Reiff said government contractors whose projects are on hold during the shutdown face a dilemma: to furlough or fire foreign workers.
Because of the conditions on the high-skilled visas, even furloughed foreign workers have to be paid. If a company decides to fire the worker, that firm is then faced with starting the arduous hiring process over again.
And for the foreign worker, taking a temporary unpaid furlough or losing the job altogether means they are violating the terms of the visa, which could cause problems in the future if they try to renew a visa or change immigration status. There is no grace period for immigrant workers to be unemployed and they could face deportation or be denied visa extensions.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which processes the immigration paperwork for such workers, said it will evaluate future renewal and status change applications of workers furloughed or fired on a case-by-case basis.