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Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): Possible October 1 Government Shutdown Could Impact Immigration Benefits

September 28, 2015

Although Congress continues to negotiate the 2016 budget, if no agreement is reached, we unfortunately may be faced with another government shutdown Thursday, October 1, 2015, which is the beginning of the federal fiscal year. Interestingly, House Speaker John Boehner announced Friday that he will resign from his post at the end of October. Presumably, the Speaker will be heavily involved with the federal budget negotiations that are underway in Washington, but it is still unclear what impact his unexpected departure will have on Congress’ ability to reach a budget deal with the White House.

Certain Department of Labor functions that are integral to employment-based immigrant visa processing are not excepted from a shutdown because DOL employees would be placed in furlough status if funding becomes unavailable. This means the DOL likely would not be able to accept applications filings for PERM, H-2A, H-2B and similar cases until a budget deal is reached. DOL’s online systems - iCERT and PERM - likely would not be operational nor able to accept PERM, LCA or prevailing wage applications, and authorized users likely would not be able to access their online accounts.

USCIS also could be impacted by a shutdown, but it is unclear what, if any, functions in that agency would remain operational if federal funds become unavailable. The agency recently announced it will suspend final adjudication of employment-based I-485 applications because the statutory cap for those visas has been met for fiscal year 2015. This suspension applies to all employment-based adjustment applications pending with USCIS through September 30, 2015.

However, USCIS will continue to accept adjustment of status applications that are filed when the foreign national’s priority date is earlier than the cut-off date published in the September Visa Bulletin for his or her preference category and country of birth/chargeability. USCIS will resume final adjudication of employment-based adjustment applications beginning October 1, 2015, when visa numbers are again available.

Contact us if we can assist you with immigration issues impacted by the October 1 fiscal year deadline.