Government shutdown averted. Are we in the clear?
While the looming potential for a U.S. government shutdown is alarming, it is not something new, nor – with a few notable exceptions, particularly in 2018 under Trump – are such shutdowns lengthy or severe. In the last 45 years, there have been approximately 21 shutdowns, none longer than 34 days, and the majority were in middle to low-single-digits. With the vote by the House and Senate to support the stopgap spending bill this afternoon and the President signing the bill, a shutdown has been averted, for now.
The bill extends funding to the government through December 3rd preventing a shutdown that, for some, could have disrupted their employment-based immigration and non-immigrant cases. As an agency funded by Congress, the Department of Labor (DOL), which processes PERM applications, and Labor Condition Applications (LCA) needed for H1B filings, the DOL would have shut down all services, potentially delaying second round selected H1B cases that still needed to file their LCA for certification.
Generally, such a shutdown would not have impacted fee-funded agencies like USCIS which operates using the fees generated from applications, or consulate activities unless a consulate failed to generate sufficient filing fees for each consulate to operate, nor would it have shutdown Customs and Border Patrol activities though it could have affected passport offices as they operate in federal buildings which would have been impacted.
As we approach the next deadline for budget approvals at the end of the 2-month extension period on December 3rd, those with immigration needs should be proactive and contact their immigration counsel to discuss potential issues with their cases should we again go through this same cycle of uncertainty.