Immigration Alert: Possible DOL Shutdown

The U.S. Congress continues to negotiate on the FY2016 budget, but if no agreement is reached, or if a Continuing Resolution is not passed, or no other stopgap method implemented, we may have another government shutdown on October 1, 2015.

If the government shuts down, the U.S. Department of labor (DOL) employees will be placed in furlough status which means that it will not accept applications or related materials (such as audit responses) as of October 1, nor will it process those already received, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification (H-2A/H-2B), or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. Furthermore, DOL’s online systems (iCERT and PERM) will not be operational and will not accept PERM, LCA, or prevailing wage applications, and authorized users will not be able to access their online accounts. Also, DOL would not have a functioning mailroom and would not be able to receive or process PERM audit responses or other applications received in the mail. This has a significant impact on H-1B, H-1B1 (Singapore/Chile), E-3 and PERM applications. While DOL made accommodations in 2013 to accept applications that were affected by the shutdown, there is no way to be certain it will do so again.

To date, other government agencies have not outlined any contingency plans due to the possibility of a government shutdown on or after October 1, 2015. It is reasonable to believe that in the event of a government shutdown, contingency plans will mirror plans during the last government shutdown in 2013. For example, many of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) functions (with the exception of E-Verify) will continue, since they are primarily funded through user fees. USCIS also accommodated late filing of cases that were affected by the shutdown. Similarly, the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) SEVP (SEVIS) continued operations because it is also a fee-funded program and does not receive any government-appropriated funds. In 2013, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) continued as many normal operations as possible based on existing funding. All U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ports of entry remained open, as well as all global entry enrollment centers.

A Continuing Appropriations Resolution has been introduced, which if passed, would fund the federal government through December 12, 2015.

Loke Walsh Immigration Law, PC will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they are received.