Employer Responsibilities to Consider During the Coronavirus Pandemic
As Covid-19 cases have increased workplaces are faced with increasing challenges and employers have been forced to make changes. It is important for U.S. employers to remember those foreigners who are laboring under non-immigrant visas. Employers are encouraged to avoid discriminatory policies and to take note that there are additional rules and regulations that are applicable to employees on different visa categories.
Things to Consider:
- Working Remotely - If a foreigner is on an H-1B visa and he or she starts working remotely, U.S. employers must abide by the Labor Condition Application (LCA) Posting Rules. Employers must post a notice at the worksite stating that it has filed an LCA. Notice of the LCA petition must be provided to employees in the same occupational category, either by physical posting at the jobsite for 10 days or via electronic mail.
- Material Modifications Regarding the Terms and Conditions of Employment - Generally speaking, aliens working on a temporary visa are still required to be working in the geographical area shown in their visa petition. USCIS should be informed about the change in work location as stated on the visa category and whether the change would be considered a “Material” change in the rules and regulations of the employment. Each work visa is different.
- Changes in Payment - Perhaps due to the Covid-19 crisis there is a change in the employees pay. For example; when an employee is transitioning from full-time to part-time employment an adjustment of payment needs to be done. This would be specifically obvious for those under H-1B status. Employers will be liable and required to pay H-1B employees paychecks that are owed to them as filed in the Labor Condition Application with their H-1B Submissions.
- Expired Status - Beneficiaries of nonimmigrant visas can find themselves “out of status” if the company they are working for is shutting down. If a foreigner is out of status, they may have no other option but to leave the country or change to another status under a new company. However, at the present time it may not be practical or possible for individuals to return to their home countries due to the Covid-19.
- Exchange Students and Visitors - All persons with F-1 visas can also fall out of status if there has been a school shutdown and if they have been taking online classes. The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it has geared up to be flexible with students.
- E-Verify Web-based system and Form I-9 - Every Employer is required to use the Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements at the time of hire. Under ICE and USCIS regulations it is mandatory that all U.S. employers appoint agents to examine forms and fill Section 2 of the Form I-9. Please see the USCIS website for additional information and who is eligible to act as an agent to examine forms.
- COVID-19 Travel Bans - Presently, foreign nationals from several countries are banned from coming to the U.S and employers will be unable to hire and bring them into the country. Banned Countries are: China, Iran and the 26 Schengen Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. President Donald Trump has observed that other countries like the United Kingdom, may be added to this list and some countries already listed might be removed.
- Visa Services have been Cancelled - U.S. Consulates Worldwide have cancelled immigrant and nonimmigrant visa interview appointments. All U.S. employers are encouraged to take note of the changes made for visa services and to check the U.S. Consulate Web Pages regularly and to plan in advance.
Need More Information?
If you are in need of additional information concerning Employer Responsibilities and what to do in this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic contact your nearest Immigration Attorney. The Gambacorta Law Office is available to help you at 847-433-9303.