United States: Immigration Fact and Fiction for the U.S. Employer: Know Your Rights – 5 Things to Tell Your Foreign National Employee in the Current Climate

On February 21, 2017, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two memoranda signed by DHS Secretary Kelly addressing immigration enforcement.  While a sitting President cannot independently modify laws or regulations without going through the normal rule making process, he/she can significantly alter policy and enforcement priorities.  These two memoranda are a clear example of a shift in focus.  While the memos largely address individuals who are undocumented, your foreign national employees may be collaterally impacted as a result of being inadvertently involved in an enforcement action, when encountering an emboldened DHS officer or even in dealing with local police officials, given their new immigration related authority.

We provide a brief overview of several issues one may encounter.  We will provide additional information in subsequent postings as these directives, and others, continue to evolve.

1. Fact or Fiction, Can Your Foreign National Employee be Detained by DHS?

The new Kelly memos make it clear that the previous administration's "catch and release" program is over.  The administration vows to deter illegal immigration by aggressively detaining noncitizens and expanding the categories of individuals who are considered priorities for removal.   The broad language of the memos suggest that  a foreign national employee could be detained and deported if he/she is convicted of a criminal offense, charged with a criminal offense, or even has committed acts that could rise to a chargeable criminal offense.  Assuming your employee has proper visa classification and he/she has been maintaining status, all should be OK.

As the law requires, we recommend all foreign nationals carry with them, at all times, proof of immigration status.  This means if your employee is a nonimmigrant worker (H-1B, L-1B, E-3, etc.) he/she should carry his/her Employment Authorization Document, I-94 card, passport with entry stamp, or other proof of lawful presence (or at least a photocopy of the relevant documents and be able to access the original quickly if needed).  If your employee is a Lawful Permanent Resident, he/she should carry his/her greencard (or at least a photocopy and be able to access the original quickly if needed).  Employees should have handy the name and contact information of their supervisor or HR representative who can also verify their employment details.

2. Fact or Fiction, Can the Company Continue to Employ a Foreign National Worker Authorized to Work Pursuant to DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals)?

As per the Questions and Answers guidance provided by DHS subsequent to the release of the memos, DACA continues as a program.  That means that if your employee is a DACA beneficiary and is employed pursuant to a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you can continue to employ him/her and they can continue to renew their work permit.   This may change in the near future but for now it stands.

Some leaked Executive Orders (EO) have included provisions to end "amnesty programs."   If this should happen, a DACA beneficiary will lose his/her permission to work in the United States.  Short of marrying a U.S. citizen, most DACA participants have no other immigration relief or form of work eligibility.  We have some hope that when implementing any new executive orders, the government will allow the "Dreamers" to continue working at least through the expiration of their current EADs so that both employers and employees alike are not impacted suddenly.

3. Fact or Fiction, Can the Company's Foreign National Employees Continue to Travel Abroad?

Yes, but customs officers at airports and other ports of entry may question the employee about their immigration status and underlying eligibility for that status.   If the employee is selected for a longer interview during the admission process, he/she will be sent to a "secondary inspection" area.  While United States citizens have the right to have an attorney present during questioning, non-citizens generally do not have such a right while the officer determines whether or not to admit the foreign national employee.

Please advise your employees that if a DHS officer's questions have to do with anything other than the foreign national's immigration status, he/she does have the right to an attorney but it is unlikely that such requests will be granted until after the questioning is completed.

Also, employers should be warned that we expect a new Executive Order (EO) re-implementing the "travel ban" will be issued next week.   While foreign nationals of the 7 countries noted in the previous EO, namely Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, will be surely impacted, it is possible the new EO will extend a "travel ban" to other countries.  As such, we recommend foreign nationals from these 7 countries not travel abroad at this time, and we will keep you updated as the new EO is released to warn potentially additional foreign national employees against travel.

4. Fact of Fiction, Can a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer Review My and/or a Foreign Employee's Personal Electronic Devices and /or Social Media Accounts?

Since 2008, it has been the position of CBP that it may, upon a "reasonable suspicion", inspect electronic devices, such as phones and laptops.  Moreover, this can result in CBP confiscating the devices for several weeks or months.  As such, employees should take proactive steps to ensure the confidentiality of client, customer and proprietary information.   This means that phones and computers should contain only information that is needed for the business trip. Some employers may want to provide laptops and phones that are used solely for business trips and do not contain any sensitive information.   Basically, if the employee does not need the device or information for the trip – it should be left at home.

With respect to social media, CBP Officers have recently been requesting passwords to review an applicant for admission's social networking activity.  In addition, social media questions – while not yet mandatory – have been added to the ESTA online application.  ESTA provides visa free travel to nationals of certain designated countries.  As such, it appears that the trend will continue so employees should continue to utilize social media judiciously and remember that no post in cyber space is confidential.

5. Fact of Fiction, Do These Changes Impact a Foreign Worker's Privacy Rights?

The memorandum addressing this issue states that DHS will no longer afford Privacy Act rights and protections to individuals who are neither U.S. citizens nor lawful permanent residents.  Since 2009, DHS has treated personally identifiable information (PII) as subject to the Privacy Act. PII includes information that is collected, used, maintained, or disseminated and includes U.S. citizens and LPRs, as well as visitors and undocumented persons.

Non-U.S. persons have had the right of access to their PII and the right to amend their records, absent an exemption under the Privacy Act.   It is unclear whether the 2009 guidance will remain in place until the DHS Privacy Office develops new guidance and it is unclear what DHS intends as to the scope, purpose, and intent of the new guidance.   For example, if your foreign national employee commits a crime or is even suspected of committing a crime as determined by an immigration officer, the employee's name may be placed on a list which DHS will be begin publishing and making public soon.

Conclusion

Most employers are committed to having a diversity of talent and to the fair and equal treatment of all employees, whatever their background, so perhaps this is a good time to share such a message with your employees.  It is probably beneficial to include that as an employer, the company will aim to support and protect colleagues, regardless of their race, country of origin, and religion or belief system, and that the previous (and perhaps future) executive orders, as well as memoranda are only likely to affect a small minority of employees but are still taken very seriously.  Confirming that impacted employees can reach out to local HR partners or managers if they have questions or concerns is highly reassuring to most employees.

Immigration Fact and Fiction for the U.S. Employer: Know Your Rights – 5 Things to Tell Your Foreign National Employee in the Current Climate

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions