Immigration Alert: Employing immigrants during economic slowdown

Published 25 November 2008

There are important employer obligations to consider when employing immigrants during an economic downturn

Lawyers with the Mintz Levin Immigration Practice Group write that the current economic downturn is requiring many of their clients to begin looking for creative solutions to increasing budgetary pressures. Many clients may be considering such measures as layoffs, scaling back employee hours, adjusting salaries or benefits packages, “benching” some nonessential employees (the practice of retaining employees who do not report to work, and not paying those employees while they are “idle”), and other such solutions. Employers should be aware of the unique restrictions and issues related to these practices if they impact nonimmigrant employees in H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 status, as all of these are governed by the Labor Condition Applications (LCA) filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) for the positions in which these individuals are employed. In addition, special precautions must be taken by employers filing PERM applications, not just if the employee has a layoff but if the occupation in question is in a sector affected by the downturn, such as the financial services industry.