Dec 06 2018

Federal Shutdown Averted for Now

United States

At a glance

Congress has passed a short-term spending bill that will fund the federal government – including immigration operations – through December 21.

The situation

A continuing resolution passed by Congress on Thursday will fund the federal government – including immigration operations – through December 21, 2018, while negotiations on the FY 2019 budget continue.  Funding for federal operations was set to expire after midnight on December 7.  The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.

Four expiring immigration programs have also been extended without changes through December 21:

  • the EB-5 Regional Center permanent residence program for foreign investors;
  • the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system;
  • the Conrad 30 waiver program for foreign medical graduates who will work in areas of the United States that are underserved by physicians; and
  • the special immigrant non-minister religious worker permanent residence program

What the short-term spending measure means for employers

The passage of a temporary spending measure means that there will be no interruption of federal operations for now, though a shutdown remains a possibility if there is no agreement on FY 2019 appropriations legislation by December 21, 2018.

In the event of a shutdown, U.S. immigration functions would likely be affected as follows:

  • USCIS immigration benefits processing: Because USCIS case processing functions are funded by application fees, the agencies would continue to adjudicate cases, though some delays are possible.
  • Visa processing: The State Department should process visa applications as long as filing fees remain available to fund consular operations. If a shutdown is lengthy, visa processing could be affected.
  • Department of Labor immigration functions: DOL would not be affected by a shutdown, since Congress earlier this year passed appropriations legislation to fund that agency’s operations for FY 2019.
  • E-Verify: The E-Verify system would not accept or process employment verification queries during a shutdown.
  • Border and enforcement operations: Inspection functions and border application processing would continue, as would ICE enforcement.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.