Office Closures and Their Impact on Immigration Obligations: Part 2 - The Green Card Process
May 16, 2023
Welcome back to Part 2 of 2 of this blog series. This post will cover the impact of employer office closures on the Green Card process for employees, and I hope you find this sequel more closely aligned with The Godfather Part 2, as opposed to Jurassic Park Part 2. For those who spend their time at the intersection of U.S. employment and U.S. immigration matters, the importance can be more significant than any sequel, even the Francis Ford Coppola classic.
As outlined in Part 1 of this blog series, reductions in office footprints across the United States as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have a significant impact on foreign national employees. It is an important topic for those who spend their time at the intersection of U.S. employment and immigration matters.
This installment seeks to address strategies to handle office closures, cost-saving measures, and considerations for employers should they find themselves in this position. While there are various Employment-Based green card processes, this installment specifically focuses on the employment-based Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) Green Card process.
Identify the Impacted Foreign National Population and Their New Job Profile
Receiving news regarding upcoming office closures can be daunting to employers and employees alike. Employer preparedness will certainly help put employees at ease in these situations, and there is always a path forward. However, it is critical to connect with your immigration counsel as soon as possible for additional assistance with complex discussions surrounding the Green Card process for affected employees.
As an initial step, identify any foreign national employees who are slated to be impacted by the office closures. Furthermore, confirm how they will be impacted. Some key questions to ask:
- Who is impacted?
- Will these employees have a telecommuting option?
- What will be the new reporting office for these employees?
- Will the employees have a hybrid or fully remote work model?
- When will the office closures occur?
- How will future employee moves be tracked?
Consolidating this information into a singular report allows a strong, central point of data to be created from the outset—especially given that office closures may be announced on a rolling basis.
Assess the Impact and Create the Game Plan
Your Fragomen team is available to help answer these questions and assist in developing a plan forward. For those employees going through the PERM process, an office closure can have a major impact on their ongoing process and may require you as the employer to restart the process, depending on its stage.
A few key points and questions:
- The employment-based Green Card process is prospective in nature. In other words, you can start to execute your approach for those impacted employees even before the office closures take effect.
- For the PERM process, the employee must report to an office. This is important as the recruitment campaign (the labor market test) must involve a physical posting of the Notice of Filing at the office location.
- Should you leverage the “headquarters approach” for the Green Card process? If an employee can work remotely (telecommute) from anywhere in the United States, then the employer must list the company’s headquarters as the work location in the PERM documents and indicate that remote work is permissible.
- Can employees be “batched” together when restarting the PERM process? Employees who are carrying out the same role and responsibilities, and who will be reporting to the same office address, may be able to be “batched” together when restarting their PERM processes. This could lead to significant time and cost savings, so be mindful of this approach when assessing next steps.
Once a plan forward is solidified with immigration counsel, it will be important to focus on how your employees will receive these updates. Messaging to your employees is critical, and Fragomen has significant experience working with clients as they hold town halls or other events where these types of announcements can be shared effectively. These opportunities will give your employees confidence that your organization is partnering with legal professionals to mitigate any impacts to their U.S. work authorization and Green Card process, while also allowing them to ask any relevant questions.
While offices may close, immigration programs do not. It is important to ask the right questions and work with your Fragomen team to navigate these challenges together.
Need to Know More?
Please refer to part one of this blog series for any questions on office closures and their impact on employees within the nonimmigrant process, and contact Senior Associate Christopher Gregorio at [email protected] with questions.
This blog was published on May 16, 2023, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on global immigration, please subscribe to our alerts and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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