Government Shutdown’s Impact on Pending Immigration Applications

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The United States has long been a destination for immigrants seeking a better life. The immigration system, though, is complex and often characterized by lengthy processing times. When a government shutdown occurs, it can exacerbate the challenges faced by those with pending immigration applications. In this blog post, we will delve into the implications of a government shutdown on individuals awaiting decisions on their immigration cases.


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Understanding the Government Shutdown

A government shutdown happens when the U.S. Congress fails to pass a budget or continuing resolution to fund government operations. During such a shutdown, many federal agencies and services cease to function or operate at a reduced capacity. While essential functions like national security and law enforcement continue, non-essential services often experience significant disruptions. All predictions seem to indicate there will be a government shutdown on October 1. What does this mean for immigration cases?

Implications for Immigration Applications

Delayed Processing Times: One of the most immediate and noticeable impacts of a government shutdown on immigration is the delay in processing times. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other immigration-related agencies may experience staff furloughs, causing applications to languish in queues. This delay can be frustrating for applicants eagerly awaiting their immigration status updates. Because USCIS is a fee-based agency and technically continues to operate during a shutdown, we will be able to continue submitting your immigration applications.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is not fee-based and operations will come to a halt during the government shutdown.  It is expected that immigration functions related to processing of PWDs, Labor Condition Applications for H-1Bs, H-1B1 and E-3 petitions; and labor certification applications (PERM) will be suspended during the shutdown.  If this happens, the processing times will significantly increase.  

Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) confirmed it will have to disable FLAG system and will not accept any applications (LCA or PERM) during the shutdown.  

Visa Issuance and Consular Services: Because U.S. Department of State (DOS) which is partially-fee based by visa applications and related fees, consulates and embassies abroad can continue to operate during a shutdown.  However, shutdowns can lead to delays in visa issuance and interviews. Prospective immigrants may experience extended waiting periods for visa appointments, which can disrupt their travel plans and relocation schedules. We will  monitor this and provide any updates if and when they become available.

For those in the midst of the immigration process, a government shutdown adds a layer of uncertainty and stress. Applicants may be left in limbo, unsure of when their cases will be reviewed or when they can expect a decision.

Related Blog: Can A Green Card Holder Sponsor A Parent?


Mitigating the Impact

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While the consequences of a government shutdown on immigration applications can be challenging, there are steps applicants can take to mitigate the impact:


Stay Informed: Keep a close eye on news and updates regarding government shutdowns and their potential effects on immigration services. USCIS and other relevant agencies often post notices and updates on their websites.


Plan Ahead: If possible, plan your immigration process well in advance to account for potential delays. Submit applications early and maintain open communication with your immigration attorney or legal representative.


Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with an immigration attorney can provide guidance on navigating the complexities of immigration processes during a government shutdown. They can help you understand your options and make informed decisions.


Passport on a table

Government shutdowns are a challenging reality for individuals navigating the U.S. immigration system. While they can lead to delays and uncertainty, it’s important to remain proactive and informed throughout the process. By staying prepared, seeking legal advice, and maintaining patience, individuals with pending immigration applications can better weather the storm and keep their dreams of a life in the United States alive.


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