As of this writing (October 15), the federal government remains partially shut down. What does this mean for cases pending with the various government agencies charged with adjudicating immigration petitions and applications and the immigration courts? Below is a summary and some unresolved issues.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is open and operating, and, individuals scheduled for interviews and other appointments are expected to appear. USCIS functions are supported by user fees, and, are therefore not dependent on appropriated funds. E-Verify, however, is currently unavailable.
The Department of Labor (DOL) is largely shutdown; this has implications for some cases filed with USCIS, such as H-1Bs and PERM-based immigrant visa applications. Specifically, the DOL office that processes applications or related materials (such as audit responses) is shuttered; this means Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification are not being processed. In fact, the iCERT portal and PERM system are static. In the past, USCIS has permitted petitioners to submit H-1B petitions without certified LCA but no word on this been announced thus far.
DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges (including BALCA) is also closed, unable to perform any case-related activities including conducting hearings. Hearings scheduled for October 1 and beyond will be rescheduled after the shutdown is resolved, and deadlines occurring during the shutdown are suspended.
Most of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities continue. All ports of entry are open and the Border Patrol is continuing operations. The CBP web site, however, is not being maintained, which means that recent arrivals will not be able to obtain I-94 print outs. Technicians and support staff – about 6,000 – are affected.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and enforcement operations continue as does the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The latter functions are fee-funded and do not receive any government-appropriated funds.
The immigration courts have issued several advisories, describing how immigration courts are accepting filings and handling filing deadlines during the lapse in government funding. Generally, hearings on non-detained cases have been suspended nationwide while detained case hearings continue, including case appeals, motions, federal court remands, and bonds.
Web sites for many of the agencies are not being maintained, including DHS’s.