U.S. Government Shutdown: What’s at Stake

what is a government shutdown
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Published on 21 Nov 2023 Time to read 8 min read Last update on 8 Jan 2024

What is a government shutdown? In the intricate tapestry of U.S. immigration, the looming possibility of a government shutdown in 2024 casts a shadow of uncertainty over the processing time for crucial immigration procedures. As the nation grapples with the potential consequences of such an event, it becomes imperative to delve into key considerations and strategic preparations to navigate through these critical issues. In this article, we aim to serve as your guide in understanding the dynamics surrounding a U.S. government shutdown, offering clarity in an ever-evolving landscape.

With an emphasis on the complexities that may arise, we explore the potential impacts on immigration processes and shed light on measures to stay informed and prepared. Join us on this exploration of the intricate interplay between government shutdowns and U.S. immigration, and discover how strategic planning, coupled with the right resources, can help you navigate these uncertain waters with confidence.

what is a government shutdown

What is a Government Shutdown?

A government shutdown occurs when the U.S. Congress fails to pass necessary appropriations bills or a continuing resolution to fund government operations. This impasse leads to a temporary cessation of non-essential federal functions, as affected agencies and departments lack the necessary funding to operate.

Consequently, federal employees may be furloughed or forced to work without pay until a resolution is reached. The ramifications of a government shutdown extend beyond the immediate fiscal concerns, impacting various sectors, services, and individuals who rely on federal programs. Essential services such as national security, law enforcement, and public safety typically continue, but functions related to immigration processing, federal research, and regulatory oversight may experience disruptions.

Potential Impact on Immigration Agencies

A federal government shutdown poses a significant threat to government agencies tasked with overseeing immigration-related matters, potentially causing disruptions throughout the immigration process. Companies employing foreign nationals may encounter challenges in obtaining certified Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) essential for H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 petitions.

While the occurrence of a government shutdown is uncertain, historical patterns indicate that immigration benefits and services may experience delays should such an event transpire. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), though fee-dependent, could face slowdowns and processing delays due to reduced staff during a shutdown.

The U.S. Department of State, partially funded by visa application fees, may suspend non emergency services, affecting the issuance of business and employment visas. The U.S. The Department of Labor (DOL), not fee-generating, has historically suspended immigration functions during shutdowns, creating backlogs and prolonged processing times.

Inability to process LCAs

The inability to process LCAs directly impacts employers’ ability to proceed with crucial H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 petitions. Furthermore, E-Verify, likely non-operational during a shutdown, would leave employers unable to meet system-related deadlines until government operations resume. In summary, a government shutdown would likely increase processing times for various immigration matters, with notable impacts on employers and individuals seeking visas to enter the United States.


In the event of a government shutdown, the IRS, responsible for processing crucial documents such as the Employer Identification Number (EIN), has outlined a Fiscal Year 2024 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan. According to this plan, around 30,000 IRS employees would continue working, while the remaining 60,000 would be furloughed and unable to perform duties, whether at IRS offices or remotely.

This is a departure from the Fiscal Year 2023 plan, which ensured the IRS remained fully operational through funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. As part of the shutdown procedure, some IRS employees may cancel taxpayer appointments, acknowledging that certain functions will be temporarily halted.

Non-exempt employees are restricted from engaging in any government work, including responding to emails or calls, after a half day of permitted shutdown tasks. This disruption raises concerns about the potential delay in obtaining an EIN, a critical element for businesses opening bank accounts, in the event of a government shutdown.

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Latest News on Government Shutdown

In the latest developments regarding the Government Shutdown, President Joe Biden has averted an imminent crisis by signing a temporary spending bill just one day before a potential shutdown, prolonging the budget dispute with congressional Republicans into the new year.

This move, occurring on the heels of the passage of the bipartisan measure in both the House and Senate, ensures that the government will remain operational until after the holiday season. President Biden signed the bill in San Francisco during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, marking a late-night development. The spending package maintains current government funding levels for approximately two more months, allowing lawmakers additional time to address substantial differences over spending levels for the current budget year.

The bill introduces a two-step approach, with Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 as deadlines for passing full-year appropriations bills for different federal agencies, posing potential risks of a partial government shutdown on these dates. The temporary funding bill received support from all but one Democrat and 10 Republicans, with the new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, emphasizing that he won’t endorse further stopgap measures, setting the stage for budget negotiations in the coming year.

Petitions FIled At USCIS

If my immigration paperwork is pending or about to be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will it still be processed during a government shutdown?

USCIS, funded by filing fees, will continue processing petitions and applications. However, delays are anticipated as other government agencies involved in immigration processes, such as the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), may be affected by the shutdown. Past shutdowns suggest that USCIS might allow the submission of H-1B petitions without a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA), facilitating beneficiaries to maintain employment during extensions and change of employer petitions.


I am undergoing a PERM application for labor certification for an immigrant visa. Will the shutdown impact this process?

Yes, the Department of Labor (DOL) suspends processing of PERM applications during a government shutdown. Pending processes, including prevailing wage requests and PERM applications, cannot proceed. Delays are expected even after government financing resumes, potentially leading to a substantial increase in the PERM application backlog.

Visa Applications At U.S. Consulates Abroad

Can I apply for a visa, and will pending applications be processed during a shutdown?

Visa Franchise is dedicated to ensuring a seamless visa application process for individuals pursuing their American dream. While U.S. Consulates will continue processing visa applications contingent on available funding, it is crucial for applicants to proactively move forward before any potential shutdown.

The U.S. Department of State relies partially on fees generated by visa applications, and the duration of fund availability remains uncertain. We are here to help expedite your journey, providing support and guidance to ensure a swift and successful application process. Begin your path with a free 30-minute call, and with Visa Franchise’s expertise, you can quickly progress toward realizing your American dream.


After the shutdown, how quickly will my case be processed?

Depending on the shutdown’s duration, government agencies may take weeks to work through backlogs. Delays should be anticipated well after a budget agreement is reached.

The Chronology of The U.S. Government Shutdowns

The Chronology of the U.S. Government Shutdowns, as compiled by Statista, reveals a noteworthy trend in the duration of these disruptions. The 2018/19 shutdown stands out as the longest in recent U.S. history, lasting a staggering 34 days. Examining the timeline over the last three decades, there is a clear pattern of government shutdowns gradually extending in length.

The second-longest shutdown occurred in 1995, while the fourth-longest unfolded in 2013. In the 1980s, shutdowns were more frequent but of shorter duration, contrasting with the 1970s, where they were fewer but occasionally surpassed two weeks, notably in 1978. Government shutdowns, though not uncommon, have become more prolonged, with 20 occurrences since 1976, averaging around 8 days in duration.

what is a government shutdown


In the realm of U.S. immigration, the prospect of a government shutdown in 2024 adds a layer of uncertainty to an already complex landscape.

This article has sought to illuminate the potential impacts on immigration processes and highlight strategic preparations for the unforeseen. The dynamic interplay between government actions and immigration services underscores the need for vigilance and proactive measures.

As we stand on the precipice of an uncertain future, the question persists: Will a government shutdown materialize, and what does the future hold for the intricate dance of U.S. immigration? The answers remain elusive, subject to the winds of political and bureaucratic currents. Yet, in the face of this uncertainty, Visa Franchise remains committed to providing support, clarity, and a steadfast partnership for those navigating the complex journey toward U.S. legal residency.

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