When you’re thinking of laying off people during this COVID-19 crisis, be aware of the different obligations and consequences depending on the different immigration statuses.
As a leader, you need to step up and make sure that you’re dealing with these changes in the most graceful and effective way possible.
People on Work Permits
There are lots of ways for people to get work permits (i.e. DACA, seeking asylum, or somebody who experienced a crime and cooperated with law enforcement). If you’re going to lay off somebody on a work permit, you don’t have any obligation to support them in maintaining their status. Their ability to work is based on them meeting legal requirements independent of the job you’ve offered them.
People on Green Cards
If they already got a green card and it’s not through your company, you don’t need to do anything.
For EB1A green card for extraordinary ability or EB2-NIW (National Interest Waiver):
- If your company never signed the I-140 but you just provided a letter of recommendation or support or job offer letter, you don’t need to worry about it because your company didn’t sponsor this person for a green card.
- If your company signed the I-140 and you’re offering this person a permanent job, there could be some issues for this person when they apply for U.S. citizenship in the future. Write them a letter stating that you undertook the green card sponsorship in good faith but had to eliminate the job due to unforeseen COVID-19 circumstances. The person can then add this letter to their portfolio and have more peace of mind when they eventually go for citizenship.
People on Nonimmigrant Visas
Normally, if somebody’s work visa comes to an end and your company didn’t renew it, that person would have a 10-day grace period to either leave the country or start working at another company. But for somebody who is being laid off midstream, they have a 60-day grace period.
For more information and resources on the different obligations and consequences of laying off people on different immigration statuses, check out Immigration Law for Tech Startups podcast. If you’d like to listen, head over to 017: Immigration Layoffs in COVID-19.