How does COVID-19 impact my immigration status?
Updated: May 5, 2020
COVID-19 is impacting all aspects of our lives - business, personal and social. For employees on H-1B, L-1, O-1, TN or E-3 visas and employers who have foreign national visa employees, here is a list of things to be aware of.
As of March 18, 2020, the H-1B lottery is still going ahead as planned. The deadline for registrations is March 20, 2020 12 noon (Eastern Time). If you have not registered your employees for the lottery, please make sure to talk to your immigration team or your WayLit account manager to initiate the process.
Short, unpaid leaves due to required quarantine at the employer location should not raise any immigration implications for the employees on visas, as long as the leaves are approved and taken in accordance with the company policies.
Working from Home
Foreign national employees on OPT, STEM OPT, L-1 and TN status are not required to file an amended petition as long as they are temporarily working from home in the US, in the same capacity.
Employees on H-1B are allowed to work at locations outside the office/work site listed on the employer's H-1B petition, if the location is within normal commuting distance (1 hour or less) from work location or within the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). In many of these situations, the Labor Condition Application (LCA) may simply need to be posted at the home work site (for at-least 10 days), and a new H-1B petition might not be needed to be filed with USCIS.
H-1B employees working in remote locations (outside the normal commuting distance) would be limited to work at the location for up to 60 days, after which the employer would need to file a H-1B petition amendment.
To maintain timeline and LCA audit log, H-1B employers should document any corona virus related instructions to the employees. These include their own instructions and those from third parties that their employees might be working at.
Please work with your immigration counsel or your WayLit account manager to take the correct next steps.
I-9 completion for New Employment
For any new employee, the I-9 must be completed by the employer within 3 business days of start date of the job. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires (for all domestic and foreign national employees) the employer to check the original documents and the I-9 guidance specifically prohibits examining documents "via webcam" or copies of the documents.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact WayLit's team via email@example.com and we'd be happy to help.
We are continuing to monitor the situation and USCIS' and DHS' updates, and will release additional guidance as soon as it become available.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a WayLit-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.