According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, a “Shutdown Furlough” is the placing of employees in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of work or funds, or other non-disciplinary reasons. The furlough will impact all non “excepted” employees. Excepted employees include employees who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work. In short, this means that most immigration cases will be impacted due to the furlough. The following provides a breakdown of how each agency is expected to be impacted due the furlough:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
According to the USCIS web-site all USCIS Offices worldwide are open. If you have an immigration matter before USCIS you should report to interviews and appointments as scheduled. Fee for service activities performed by USCIS are not affected by a lapse in annual appropriated funding. Although USCIS will continue to process cases before them, your case may still be impacted if another government agency is involved in the processing of your case, i.e., U.S. Department of Labor or the U.S. Department of State. If you have questions about the impact of the furlough on your immigration matter before USCIS you can call 1-800-375-5283.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Most of the functions of CBP will not be impacted by the furlough as their function is deemed necessary for safety of human life or protection of property. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security passenger processing and cargo inspection functions will continue during the furlough. This includes processing of TN NAFTA applications, L1 visa applications, and all other CBP related applications. Since nonessential staff will not be available during the furlough plan for border crossing delays.
U.S. Department of State (DOS)
Individuals likely to be most impacted by the government furlough are those with immigration matters before the U.S. Department of State. Nonessential DOS employees will not work during the furlough. This is expected to impact both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing. The furlough could also have a significant impact on the Visa Bulletin, causing additional visa backlogs. Contact your local consulate/embassy for details on how the furlough might impact your scheduled immigration matter.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
Nonessential employees of the U.S. Department of Labor will not be working during the furlough. This is expected to have a significant impact on the processing of Prevailing Wage Determinations (PWD), PERM, and Labor Condition Applications (LCA). The cases most impacted by DOL closure are H1B, H2A, H2B, and PERM.