Across-the-board funding cuts, or sequestration, took effect Friday, March 1 for all government agencies, including those playing a vital role in immigration processing. Though the Departments of Homeland Security, State Department and Department of Labor have not stated how or if their immigration-related operations will be impacted, delays are possible for many immigration processes.
Of particular concern to employers is the possibility of processing delays at the Department of Labor. DOL is responsible for processing labor condition applications (LCAs), a prerequisite to filing H-1B petitions, as well as prevailing wage determinations and PERM labor certifications. With the FY2014 H-1B cap season opening on April 1, delays in LCA processing could have consequences for employers planning on filing cap-subject H-1B petitions for the next fiscal year. Employers are advised to continue preparing their FY2014 H-1B petitions, including filing the necessary LCAs. The sequester might also delay DOL’s processing of prevailing wage determinations, which would impact employers’ ability to conduct recruitment required under Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) regulations.
Customs and Border Protections is likely to be affected by the sequester, with delays in the inspection and admission of foreign nationals at ports of entry possible.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded in large part by filing fees and as such, may be the agency least affected by the budget cuts. However, if affected, it may experience delays in processing of immigration petitions and applications.
Department of State has advised that it may experience delays in visa processing due to the spending cuts.
Again, it is important to remember that no specific information as to delays has been provided by any of the above agencies. We will be following this closely and reporting on any new developments.