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How will a U.S. government shutdown impact global mobility?

By now, you've likely heard of this year's impending shutdown of the American government. If not averted, this will happen on Oct. 1, as Congress has not yet passed a bill to fund federal agencies. Below, we provide links to further information to support your understanding of the situation, how we got here, and what some of the ramifications are for global mobility programs. While an agreement for either stopgap or full fiscal year funding could still be reached prior to the end of the month, mobility professionals should begin contemplating what implications a shutdown could have on their organizations and programs. 

Per Worldwide ERC's recent post

There are a few of the areas for global mobility programs to consider shut a government shutdown occur and drag out for a period of time:

  1. Immigration impact: Immigration-related processes and services offered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would be significantly impacted through the duration of a shutdown. Some of these would include the suspension of processing labor condition applications, PERM labor certification applications, and prevailing wage requests. Because the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is partially funded by visa application and other service-related fees, this funding will enable DOS to continue providing U.S. citizen services like passport issuance and visa processing during a shutdown. Despite this, employers should plan for delays in the processing of services due to a furlough of nonessential staff. Then, for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it is also likely that reduced staff capacity and delays with interagency information requests will result in processing delays. Ultimately, companies face the potential inability of individuals to apply for business and employment visas to enter the United States and many that employ foreign nationals could face disruptions related to obtaining certified LCAs for H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 petitions.

  2. Employment verification impacts: This system verifies an individual's right to work in the United States by confirming information submitted on the I-9 form. E-Verify is funded by appropriations, which means it likely immediately stops functioning the day a funding gap begins and its workers are typically furloughed during a federal government shutdown. Employers who cannot use the E-Verify system as required to conduct remote I-9 document review may need to make arrangements for new employees to provide documents in-person to a representative. Employers who are required to demonstrate completion of the E-Verify process may have to delay employee start dates until the system is up and running.

  3. Social Security impacts: Foreign nationals coming to the U.S. often need to received a Social Security number to open bank accounts and get set up on payroll. It is anticipated that this process will be severely delayed throughout the duration of a shutdown, which would result in challenges for organizations that have employees needing the services. This would particularly impact foreign nationals working in the United States who need the number to establish a U.S. bank account or get set up on the U.S. payroll. 

  4. Tax impacts: The Internal Revenue Service has indicated that it would remain open in the event of a shutdown by utilizing funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. The IRS has not indicated that a shutdown would have any impact on the 16 October extension deadline for 2023 filings, so employers should plan on meeting current filing deadlines. 

  5. Travel impacts: A government shut down could cost the U.S. travel economy as much as $140 million a day, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Even though thousands of federal workers would be furloughed in the event of a government shutdown, air travel is supposed to continue like normal. Both TSA officers and air traffic controllers would continue working. However, those workers would not get paid during a shutdown. According to NerdWallet, that shouldn’t lead to delays for travelers immediately. But if the shutdown drags on for weeks, some federal workers may refuse to work without a paycheck. So a government shutdown could impact operations at TSA, national parks, and passport processing centers.

  6. Mortgage impact:  Let's add this one and share Zillow's commentary that an estimated 2,528 mortgage originations per working day are at risk of delays with a shutdown. [1] These are originations for loans backed directly by federal government agencies, including the FHA, Rural Housing Service (RHS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA). Most of these programs can function outside of the shutdown but often to qualify an individual needs documentation from the government to qualify and will likely have challenges getting it. See this from Rocket Mortgage for more details.

For a bigger picture on the overall potential impacts of a U.S. government shutdown read this: US government shutdown: What is it and who would be affected?

And some additional content shared by other industry experts:

Why the Government is About to Shut Down (podcast)


What Would a Government Shutdown Mean for Immigration?


Government shutdown would halt some immigration services


EIG Alert: Government Shutdown Watch


Government Shutdown: The Impact on Key Travel Sectors

Potential Government Shutdown Threatens Home Loan Processing


Employers should consider the impacts a U.S. government shutdown could have on their organizations and talent if funding is not enacted before 1 October.


global mobility, united states, government shutdown, worldwide erc, immigration, department of labor, uscis, state department, visas, passports, travel, employment verification, social security, tax impact, expatriates, payroll, bank accounts, mortgage impact