IT Reshoring News

January 09, 2019

USCIS Still Processing H-1B Visas During Shutdown

We're in the middle of another government shutdown. Or is it? Certain departments still operate…including, it seems, the ones involved in approving H-1B visas for foreign workers.

Even when shut down, the U.S. Government tries to bring in foreign workers.

During a government shutdown, many federal services simply stop running. Others continue without pay. Still others just keep running as if nothing's amiss.

Does that include those agencies involved in the H-1B process? We checked.

The H-1B visa application process involves two U.S. government departments: the Department of Labor (DOL), and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS).

The process begins with an employer filing with the Department of Labor, asking for approval to petition USCIS on the foreign worker's behalf. If approved, the employer files an I-129 petition with USCIS, requesting an H-1B visa.

Both USCIS and the DOL are open during government shutdown. They have their own funding, making them independent of a shutdown's funding freeze. Parts of each department must run as 'critical' components of national operations, as well. 

At the same time, many Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel must work without pay! Some of the federal government's priorities appear skewed to us.


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