As trusted attorneys, we know how frustrating the visa application process can be. Unfortunately, workers who have already been granted a U.S. visa could be forced to undertake the immigration process all over again as a result of the government shutdown.
Many “non-essential” government projects are on hold, sending employees home in droves. Some L-1 visa workers, whose jobs depend on federal funding, could face deportation as government contractors decide whether to furlough or fire foreign workers.
Here are the problems facing high-skilled foreign workers during the shutdown:
- Equal pay. Furloughed foreign workers under government contracts are required to be paid during the shutdown, making it more likely they will be fired to save costs.
- Employment violation. If a foreign worker loses his job, there is no grace period of unemployment. Any lapse in employment may result in deportation.
- No unpaid residence. If a worker opts for an unpaid furlough, he may face problems when renewing his visa or applying for a change in immigration status.
- Lack of information. The U.S. Department of Labor, which houses the Office of Foreign Labor Certification, has been closed due to the shutdown and cannot answer questions about the current state of workers.
Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remains open, officials must evaluate applications of workers furloughed or fired on a case-by-case basis—a process that will likely be delayed due to the shutdown.