Relief for Foreign Nationals Processing Their Cases through the Department of Labor

October 21st, 2013 by SRW Lawyers

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), was able to continue to process applications for benefits during our government’s shutdown earlier this month since USCIS is mostly a fee-funded agency (paid by applicants seeking benefits).  However, in order for some applications (such as H-1B’s) to be properly processed by USCIS, it needed input from the Dept. of Labor, which was primarily closed during the shutdown.  Many immigration attorneys, foreign nationals and employers of foreign nationals were understandably anxious during the shutdown – given how time sensitive applications for benefits are, unforeseen delays by the DOL’s shutdown could result in an untimely application.  This would result in clients perhaps falling out of status or being unable to continue processing their case.  The end of the government shutdown was met with a big sigh of relief – by all of us.

Additionally, earlier today, USCIS stated that if an H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B petitioner submits 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.

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