As many know, before a deadline of September 30, 2023, Congress passed and President Biden signed H.R. 5860, a short-term funding bill to keep the federal government funded for 45 days. A shutdown is still possible after November 17. Below are highlights of how immigration-related services could be affected.
Many immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications and petitions would not be severely affected because they are fee-based. “Nonessential” visa processing, such as tourist visas, could be slowed or suspended abroad, however, which could increase backlogs. Consular services located in federal buildings could be affected if those buildings are closed. Applications and petitions that depend on action by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) would be affected, including those requiring a Labor Condition Application (e.g., H-1B, H-1B1, EB-3) and PERM employment-based immigrant petitions. Other OFLC functions could also cease during a shutdown, including processing of temporary labor certifications and prevailing wage determinations. Some programs that rely on appropriations could be suspended temporarily, such as the E-Verify program and Conrad 30 J-1 program for certain doctors.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fact sheet notes that if there is a shutdown, nearly three in four DHS employees—more than 185,000 people—would be required to continue working through the shutdown without receiving a paycheck during that time. Those working without pay would include law enforcement officers, analysts, investigators, and disaster response officials. DHS said a shutdown would result in, among other things:
- More than 19,000 unpaid U.S. Border Patrol agents and 25,000 unpaid Office of Field Operations officers, including CBP agents and officers working at more than 300 ports of entry and guarding more than 6,000 miles of border.
- Stopped funding to border communities and interior cities, including funding to cover costs that border and interior communities incur associated with sheltering migrants in their cities. “Recipients may be unable to draw down on a portion of the funds, and no new awards will be made under a shutdown,” DHS said.
- Short- and long-term effects on hiring and onboarding, including a pause in processing of nearly 2,500 tentative job offers to DHS candidates for employment.