The government shutdown is over and the government agencies are resuming their normal operations. Some agencies are better than others in recovery. Here is an update on the agencies whose actions affect immigration matters;
USCIS: USCIS was not affected with the government shutdown since they work with user fees.
DOL (Department of Labor): DOL was the most affected agency among all. DOL did not accept new applications and did not process pending applications throughout the shutdown such as Labor Condition Applications (LCA), Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD), Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (PERM) or PERM audit responses. Although DOL resumed its operations, access to the iCert portal -where LCA (H-1B) and PERM (employment based green card applications) are processed - is either very slow or not responsive at all due to heavy demand.
DOS (Department of State): The DOS was not seriously affected by the shutdown. DOS continues passport and visa operations as well as provides critical services to U.S. citizens overseas as these activities are fee-funded and not affected by the lapse in appropriations.
CBP (Customs and Border Protection): CBP’s services are considered essential and there was no delay in CBP’s operations. The Border Patrol and the Office of Air and Marine are also continuing with operations. The Admissibility Review Office (ARO) is open and continues to function. All global entry enrollment centers are open and interviews are continuing and all Trusted Traveler programs continue to function as usual. However, the CBP website is not maintained during the lapse in appropriations. Approximately 6,000 CBP positions, primarily held by technicians and support staff, are somewhat impacted by the lapse in appropriations.
Social Security Offices: Social Security offices resumed their operations but reported processing times are slow.
State Agencies: State agencies are not affected by the shutdown since they are not part of the federal system. State courts and DMV offices are in operation.
Remzi Guvenc Kulen, Esq.