Immigration Hiring During the Covid-19 Crisis
If you’re one of the many employers who depends on immigrant labor then the Covid-19 crisis may have brought you new concerns and challenges. You can send a citizen employee to work from home with no further action. Sending an immigrant employee home or hiring a remote, immigrant worker may require additional paperwork.
There are also implications for hiring employees in general. Nevertheless, there is good news: in many cases the government has acted quickly to make accommodations.
Hiring New Employees
DHS has made hiring a little easier by waiving in-person verification requirements for Form I-9. While you’ll have to re-verify employment eligibility in person at a later date, you can now accept documentation remotely via video conference, fax, or email.
You might plan to keep those employees remote, but they’ll still have to report for an in-person verification later.
If you plan to hire H-1B employees there are posting and notice requirements. You may do this via an email to your employees or via a notice on your website, but you need to make sure all your employees are aware of the notice.
Remote Work for H-1B and E-3 Employees
Your office location is the work location on the employee’s Labor Condition Application (LCA). You may need to get an amendment.
Not all employees will need an amendment, but it’s important to consult with an immigration attorney to be sure. The employee’s geographical location, duration of remote work, and type of work will all play into the legal steps you’ll have to take to remain in compliance.
Note it is easier to remain in compliance if your employee lives within normal commuting distance of your office, but you shouldn’t rely on that if you want to keep your worker legally employed. There are also 30-day short-term placement options.
Remote Work for L-1 Employees
If you have L-1 employees then you already know you must maintain an “office” where you are doing visit and that USCIS can perform spot checks to make sure that office exists. This can be difficult when everyone is working from home.
There are a few ways around this. For example you might have one or two people at the office maintaining proper social distancing so the spot check doesn’t lead an inspector to believe (mistakenly) that the business has closed. If that’s not possible you may wish to work with your immigration lawyer to protect these employees.
Laying Off Employees
If you lay off noncitizen employees you may not be able to get them back. USCIS has given laid off H-1B workers more time to find work, but they may nevertheless fall out-of-status quickly.
It may be wiser to take advantage of payroll loan programs or other relief programs which allow you to keep employees on the payroll.
Reducing work schedules or compensation may be possible, but you won’t be able to trim more than a few hours a week. Most H-1B and E-3 visa programs require full-time work, which means the employee works for at least 35 hours. In cases where the employee was approved for part-time work you can’t pay the employee for fewer than the minimum number of hours indicated on your application.
Immigration issues are complex at the best of times. WE are working remotely during this crisis. If you need a consultation, just call (215) 405-0555.
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