Update: The travel ban was stayed by a judge soon after this column was written a week ago. The stay was appealed, and just last night the 9th Circuit court upheld the stay. The case is expected to be appealed again this time to the Supreme Court. In short, everyone can travel for now.
Unless you’ve been off the grid for the last few days, you have surely heard about the Executive Order that was issued over the weekend banning immigration from certain countries. While a lot of the coverage has focused on the national security perspective, the immediate and practical effects have also been felt vividly in the workplace.
In this global economy, many American employers –large, medium and small- rely on a mobile workforce that can travel internationally back and forth to complete projects and conduct business. But because the EO was implemented so abruptly it didn’t give businesses a chance to plan.
It’s a tough situation,” said Lynn Shotwell executive director of the Council for Global Immigration. “In the past, such decisions were made with enough time so that questions such as the status of green-card holders could be ironed out in advance. “Because it all happened so quickly there was a great deal of confusion.”
This is an understatement. Especially for HR people, we like to plan waaaay in advance.
So what should employers do now ?
Figure out who is affected. While employers may know which employees are non-US citizens (with H1-B visas or green cards) they don’t necessarily know their birthplace. So, send messages to employees expressing support and asking those who may be affected to come forward, so you may assist them.
Caution against travel. Some companies are advising employees who were born in one of the affected countries to cancel international travel plans (business and personal) at least for the next 90 days.
- Employees don’t like uncertainty. Reassure employees that business will continue and remind them of the company’s commitment to an inclusive global workforce. Most importantly let them know they are valued and welcomed in the organization. (Note: Choose your terminology with care, for example “travel restrictions” sounds less alarming than “travel ban”.)
Check your paperwork. Make sure you have your ducks in a row, such as completed I-9s and up-to-date visas.
Stay informed. Things are changing on a daily basis, so it’s important to find trusted sources of information and check in frequently.
That’s right. You’ll need more information than this weekly column can provide. Good luck.
Sources: Bloomberg.com; SHRM.org;
©Copyright Eva Del Rio