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H-1B Visa Holders Affected by Government Shutdown

H-1B visa holders are incurring effects of the partial Government Shutdown. The Government Shutdown has created further complications with the general hiring process and time expectations. As outlined in the recent FCW article, many holders are finding that they are unable to change occupations or continue their time in the United States because of currently closed electronic DOL and Homeland Security portals. The main immigration online portals such as E-Verify and iCert are among those which are put on hold.

H-1B Visa Background Information:

The H-1B Visa is limited by a cap of 65,000, but proposals have been made to increase the cap from anywhere between 110,000 and 180,000. The H-1B Visa is specifically for foreigners, outside the United States, with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The H-1B Visa provides eligible applicants the opportunity to work in the United States for 3 to 6 years. U.S. Employers can range from technology companies, federal contractors, or IT firms.

Partial Government Shutdown Effects:

Many U.S. employers are having trouble submitting and receiving approvals from the government. The hiring process for H-1B visa holders involves filing 1-9 immigration forms. This can be completed by using the H-1B visa holder’s passport, however, several states and federal communities require the employer to use E-Verify. E-Verify is a federal online system that allows employers to certify the legal status of the potential new hire. This is monitored by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make sure United States citizens and legal immigrants are provided employment. Though due to the government shutdown, the USCIS has put E-Verify offline and unavailable for use.

E-Verify has responded by stating that the I-9 requirement may still be completed. The employer is obligated to submit 1-9 forms by the third business day after initial employment. E-Verify will suspend cases that are directly affected by the shutdown. Those that qualify are those who are recently entering data into the E-Verify system.

Other Critical Issues for H-1B Visa Holders: 

Other issues arising are the idle systems providing H-1B Visa extensions and approvals. The Department of Labor is in charge of monitoring extensions, approvals, employee transfers, placements, and review management systems for the H-1B Visa. Though due to the shutdown, all of these operations have been put on hold. This also includes the iCERT online system which analyzes labor process applications. All the delays and suspensions of systems have limited many employers and holders who have a certain amount of time allotted to extension and approval deadlines.

We will continue to update our readers on the government shutdown and its immigration implications. Please contact our immigration lawyers if you would like to discuss your particular situation.