By CMusillo

Unless Congress passes a spending bill in the coming week, the US government will shut down at midnight on Sunday, Oct. 1. However, not all immigration processes will halt immediately in light of a shutdown.

Immigration cases proceed through several different government agencies. A shutdown will affect certain agencies (and thus their processes) differently than others.

What will Halt as of an Oct. 1 Shutdown?


Most significant to employment-based immigration cases, the Department of Labor (DOL) will not operate during a government shutdown.

Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), required for H-1B and E-3 filings, and Permanent Labor Certifications (PERMs), required for I-140 filings, cannot be drafted or filed during a government shutdown, and pending LCAs and PERMs will not be issued during a shutdown.

Further, the DOL confirmed to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that the full FLAG online filing system will be disabled during a government shutdown. LCA and PERM records cannot be accessed online or printed from the FLAG system during a shutdown.

The DOL and MU recommend that all LCA and PERM filings be filed this week, prior to the potential shutdown. While LCAs typically take at least 7 days to be adjudicated by the DOL, the DOL indicated that it will attempt to adjudicate LCAs that are received this week prior to the potential shutdown.

Finally, the DOL may allow flexibility for employers who miss filing deadlines due to the government shutdown; if such guidance is issued, MU will update its blog accordingly.

What May Proceed after an Oct. 1 Shutdown?


Cases that will be filed with or are currently pending with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will likely proceed without issue during a shutdown. In past shutdowns, USCIS has accepted late immigration filings that could not be timely filed due to the government shutdown.


Embassy services, such as visa appointments, are run by the Department of State and are also unlikely to be affected during a shutdown.


Entries to the US, including Canadian TN appointments, are handled by Customs and Border Patrol and are also unlikely to be affected by a shutdown.

If you are unclear how the shutdown will affect your case, clients are encouraged to contact their MU attorney for best strategies in the week ahead and during the potential government shutdown.