As the longest federal government shutdown in United States history endures, Law360 discusses how the lack of government funding has impacted the field of business immigration.  Although most business immigration processes remain largely unaffected, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department, the Department of Labor, Customs and Border Protection, and US immigration courts have

The federal government has entered its fourth week of a partial shutdown since December 22, 2018 because of a budget impasse between Congress and the White House.  This shutdown is the longest since 1995-1996, when the federal government was closed for 21 days, and now represents the longest lapse in federal funding in recent history.

Many agencies and departments continue operations through this shutdown because of previously approved funding bills or the essential nature of their personnel.  The information below summarizes the operating status of agencies responsible for immigration-related activities most relevant to employers.
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For weeks Congress has funded the government through short-term continuing resolutions even though significant progress was being made on a two-year budget agreement that would increase the budget caps for both defense and non-defense spending and provide new infrastructure funding.  The decision to proceed with short-term continuing resolutions was a function of Democrats in the House and Senate as well as some Republicans making a final resolution of the larger budget deal contingent on an agreement to resolve the DACA question.  It now appears that, at least among Senate Democrats, the precondition that DACA be resolved prior to finalizing the budget deal is slipping.  Senate Democrats and Republicans are close to finalizing the two-year budget deal and hope to move that deal through the Senate quickly.

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With the filing window for H-1B petitions subject to the annual 65,000 cap fast approaching, employers should take certain steps to prepare for the heightened scrutiny placed on this visa category. The immigration priorities of the Trump administration include reform of the H-1B visa category, which allows US employers to employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations.  While changes by regulation are not imminent, policy and procedural changes can be swiftly introduced without advance notice.  Changes announced in 2017, along with current trends in petition adjudication, provide important lessons for employers seeking to utilize this visa category for their foreign work corps.

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