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H-1B and L-1 Telecommuting as Precaution Against COVID-19

10 Mar

As employers look for ways to address and avoid the potential spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, some employers are implementing or considering staff telecommuting. Employers considering telecommuting options are also considering the potential impact on nonimmigrant status for employees working pursuant to different work visa classifications. Fortunately, the impacts are limited.

Generally speaking, L-1, TN, and O-1 nonimmigrants may work from home for brief periods of time without requiring an amended petition. Additionally, H-1B and E-3 employees may work from home in the same metropolitan statistical area (msa) as his or her approved H-1B or E-3 work location without the need for an amended petition. If the employee lives outside the msa or would like to work from a different location outside the msa while telecommuting, different rules may apply. Contact your Foster immigration attorney for more details.

When telecommuting, an employee’s job duties should remain the same or very similar to those described in their approved petitions. If the employee works in a position that cannot be performed from a remote location such that telecommuting would result in a significant change in job duties, generally an amended petition would be required.

If an H-1B employee is furloughed because telecommuting is not feasible, the employer must continue to pay the required wage rate and may not place the employee on unpaid leave. Furloughs also may impact the maintenance of underlying nonimmigrant status of any nonimmigrant employee (e.g., H-1B, L-1, E-1, E-2, E-3, TN, O-1), so employers should contact their Foster immigration attorney to discuss any potential furloughs prior to implementation.

Foster will provide additional updates on issues related to immigration compliance via our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.