US Government Shutdown: How Will It Impact Your Visa Application?

With just five days remaining until a possible government shutdown, Congress is grappling with the need for an appropriations bill or a short-term spending measure. While several immigration services are financially self-sustained through filing fees and may continue operating, there is a looming threat to specific critical functions. This includes immigration-related activities within the Department of Labor.

In past government shutdowns, USCIS recognized that delays solely caused by the shutdown were considered excusable. For instance, USCIS accepted untimely H-1B extension applications without requiring employees to leave the USA for visa purposes.

In a partial shutdown, only “essential” government employees remain on the job, while others are placed on furlough. According to the law, policy, and our prior experiences, here is how immigration-related services are influenced.

DOS (U.S. Department of State): The issuance of visas, passport services for U.S. citizens, and consular functions are anticipated to remain operational, barring potential localized funding issues affecting specific consulates. These localized challenges may arise due to various factors, including facility operating costs.

CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection): CBP officers and staff are designated as “essential” workers, ensuring the seamless operation of U.S. ports of entry and exit. Nonetheless, there may be minor interruptions in processing certain applications filed at the border.

ICE – Students (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement): ICE activities related to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) are anticipated to continue without disruption.

DOL (U.S. Department of Labor): The immigration-related operations of the DOL are categorized as “nonessential” and are expected to be halted during the shutdown. All pending applications, including PERM, LCAs, PWD requests, BALCA appeals, and more, will be paused. DOL staff will not be reachable through phone or email, and public access to web-based systems like FLAG will be unavailable. The DOL intends to offer assistance to those impacted by these measures.

CIS Ombudsman (Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman): The Ombudsman’s office and its online operations will be temporarily suspended throughout the shutdown.

Source: us visa application: US government shutdown just days away, what will happen to your visa application? – The Economic Times (