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How can the US shutdown impact the H1B and student visa applications?

A potential government shutdown in the US, which would likely result in political unrest and delays to government services, is just 4 days away. There are several services that the shutdown may impair even though US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is supported by fees paid by stakeholders and is not dependent on congressional appropriations to fund its operations.

Government shutdowns in the past have resulted in significant delays, and USCIS has acknowledged those by citing “government shutdown-related delays as excusable,” which may affect services like H-1B extensions without mandating that employees leave the country.

Following is a list of immigration services that the shutdown may have an impact on:

processing H-1B, E-3, and visa applications

Applications for H-1B, E-3, and H-1B1 work conditions are processed by the US Department of work. These services will suffer since the department will close.

The DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will also stop processing prevailing wage, PERM labor certification, and other activities.

Additionally, employees of this department won’t be available to answer questions, and online systems for document filing, status checking, and uploading, among other features,

Operation of visas and passports by the State Department

There is no concern about a shortage of funding because these operations are not fee-funded, however consular availability and processing may be impacted if the office is closed.

According to Morgan Lewis, “If a consulate is affected by the shutdown, then it is likely that services will be restricted to diplomatic visas and serious emergencies.”

The ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program

Enforcement and removal actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will continue, and ICE attorneys will normally concentrate on the detained docket during a shutdown. Therefore, as SEVP is funded by fees, ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices (for, for example, F-1, J-1, M-1 visas) will continue to be open.

review of immigration

Immigration court cases on the detained docket will continue as planned during a funding lapse in Congress, while those on the nondetained docket will be rescheduled for a later time when money is reinstated. Courts that have dockets for detained cases will continue to take in and handle files pertaining to detained matters. According to Morgan Lewis, courts that only deal with non-detained cases will remain closed and not accept any files.

Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman)

The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would shut down and stop taking new case submissions online.

 

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