Shutdown Over: What Happens Now

Congress ended the self-imposed government shutdown this week. The shutdown was a bit odd, from my view, insofar as not everything shut down. In the immigration sphere, some immigration courts remained open, others didn’t. USCIS continued to adjudicate petitions, but the Department of Labor went on hiatus. Whatever the case, the bureaucracy is now finding its legs again.

A few items worth posting in the aftermath:

  • USCIS says that if an H-1B, H-2A or H-2B petition is now submitted with evidence establishing that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was due to the government shutdown, USCIS will consider the government shutdown as an extraordinary circumstance and excuse the late filing, if the petitioner meets all other applicable requirements. More specifically, this means if a petitioner was unable to work with Department of Labor due to the shutdown, to obtain labor condition application or a prevailing wage determination, such a delay will not be held against the petitioner.
  • The Office of Foreign Labor Certification is once again processing labor condition applications, prevailing wage requests, and labor certification applications. The on-line PERM and ICERT systems are reportedly running slow today, due to backed up demand and capacity.  The sites did not get up an running until this morning.
  • The electronic E-Verify system is back up and running.
  • All other immigration-related agencies seem to be up and running, with minor adjustments being made in scheduling as are practically required for those coming back to work.

Perhaps most importantly, there is some suggestion that immigration reform is the top agenda item for many legislators and the President, now that the budget and debt issues have been temporarily resolved. Some experts suggest that immigration is a good issue for the Republican Party to tackle right now, to try to recover a bit from the public opinion hit the G.O.P. has taken in relation to the shutdown. Time will tell.