Thursday, March 7, 2013

Impact of the Federal Budget Sequester on Immigration Processing, 03/01/2013

As has been widely reported in the media, across-the-board funding cuts are set to take effect today at U.S. government agencies unless Congress can reach a compromise on the federal budget. The Departments of Homeland Security, State and Labor are all subject to cuts, but have not yet specified how their immigration processing operations would be affected. If funding reductions take place, employers and foreign nationals could see delays in adjudications, border inspections and visa issuance. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is primarily funded by filing fees and may see the fewest effects if sequester takes place, though it is subject to budget cuts to some degree. Customs and Border Protection is expected to be among the hardest hit among DHS operations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement this week released some low-risk foreign nationals from detention facilities, citing looming budget cuts. 

At the State Department, officials have already warned that consular services like visa processing might be delayed. Labor Department functions – including PERM, labor condition application (LCA) and prevailing wage operations – are not funded by fees and could also face delays due to cuts.