What happens if there is a government shutdown?

If the government shuts down, then it’s important to note that while some services will be suspended for as long as the shutdown lasts, other services will continue to be available.

 

These services will continue to be available:

  • USCIS processing of cases will continue.  This is because USCIS processing is wholly fee-based, i.e., the cost to the government of processing USCIS cases is paid by the petitioner or applicant and is not part of the U.S. government budget.  AOS interview appointments and naturalization interviews or swearing-in ceremonies will stand.  H-1B petitions (with one important exception, see DOL section below) can still be filed and pending petitions will continue to be processed.
  • Visa processing at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad will continue.  Visa applications are also fee-based.  Individuals with appointments at a consulate during the shutdown should assume that their scheduled interview will go forward.
  • CBP processing to admit visitors into the U.S. will continue.  CBP and TSA services are considered “essential” and are exempted from the shutdown.

 

Alternatively, these services will be suspended until the end of the government shutdown:

  • Department of Labor services will be unavailable, including;
    1. LCA processing for H-1B cases.  The portal for submitting LCAs will be unavailable.  Any pending LCAs will sit in abeyance until the Department of Labor reopens.  Any H-1B case that does not already have a certified LCA will not be able to be filed with USCIS.
    2. PERM processing.  The portal for submitting or updating PERM cases will be unavailable.  Cases cannot be filed until after the Department of Labor reopens.
  • The E-Verify website will be unavailable.  This is the program that employers use to verify work authorization of new employees.  Employers enrolled in E-Verify should plan to verify their new hires through the system as soon as the website is back up.  In the meantime, of course, employers are, as always, still obligated to verify work authorization through the I-9 process.