Employer Expectations in COVID Conditions

Written by Frida P. Glucoft

Employers should beware: even during the COVID-19 pandemic, certain employer compliance and obligations continue and others are created.

NOTICE: if your work force is working from home and you have any individuals in H1B or E3 status, there are postings and notice requirements. There are technical rules which must be followed and documents to retain for the future when we return to the worksite.

TRAVEL BAN: the travel ban for entry to the USA from abroad remains in effect. The exception is for US citizens and lawful permanent residents and their families. In addition, many countries around the globe do not permit anyone but nationals of their own countries to enter.

Be sure your employees do not make travel arrangements without advising you well in advance.

VALIDITY of DOCUMENTS: now is a good time to remind your employees who hold work visas to check the validity of their documentation and documents for immediate relatives. Those key documents include: passports, visa stamps, Form I94, Visa approvals and EAD work authorization cards for the employee and their spouse.

FURLOUGH, LAYOFF & RIF: there are special and specific rules which apply to visa categories and must be examined as to the impact on the visa holder in the case of a furlough, layoff or reduction in force (RIF). The employer must also notify the USCIS and sometimes also the Department of Labor in the case of a change in work status. These rules carry penalties if employers do not comply on a timely basis. Check with your immigration attorney as soon as these decisions are made; there are timely notices which are required and there may be a return transportation cost involved (as with O1 visa holders and H1b visa holders).

REDUCTION IN HOURS / REDUCTION IN PAY: any such action also has an impact on visa holders and requires the employer be well aware of employer obligations which attach before any such action is taken. The employer may have to comply with notice requirements and in many instances new filings are required with the agencies.

The MSK Immigration Department continues to work closely with our colleagues in the Labor & Employment Department to ensure that we provide up to date counsel regarding all employment-based immigration issues. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

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