The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which encouraged employers and employees to adapt to new models rapidly, will likely reverberate in U.S. and global workplaces for years—with a move away from traditional brick-and-mortar offices as a sustainable mode of working. Since telecommunications capabilities have advanced, the practice of employees working remotely has grown. Post-COVID-19, even industries that had not previously considered remote work (depending on the location, the terminology varies from “remote work” to “home work” to “telework” to “telecommute”) have been required to adapt. In a global context, employers must navigate vastly different rules, regulations, and employment practices to maintain compliance.
COVID-19 has had significant implications on how employers engage a workforce—particularly with respect to U.S. immigration. The employment changes caused by the pandemic, combined with President Donald Trump’s recent proclamation prohibiting certain H1-B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visa beneficiaries from entering the United States, may forever change how U.S. employers engage non-U.S. nationals. In particular, without the opportunity to resume or start the employment of foreign nationals in the United States, employers are forced to consider remote cross-border engagements, including hiring foreign nationals in their home countries or, in cases where individuals are stranded away from home due to COVID-19-related restrictions, in other countries. The European Union’s recent announcement easing entry restrictions on some countries—but not the United States—signals that this phenomenon is relevant elsewhere as well.