Category Archives: Immigration

Quirky Question #254, Foreign currency fluctuations and expat employees


I am an HR manager working for a US company that sends employees on long term assignment abroad.   One of our senior assignees recently rang me to say how worried he is about Greek politics and the potential effect on the Euro.   He wanted to know what I was going to do about it.   I was a bit puzzled at first as, obviously, I can’t sort out a European currency crisis, but it turns out that what he is really worried about is his own pay.  His salary is set in Euro, and he is worried about how he will pay his US dollar mortgage and his mother’s US care home bills if the Euro falls.  I reassured him that we would look at his salary again if that happened (which didn’t really satisfy him).  Later, I began to worry about what would happen if I promised a pay raise and then the value of the Euro rose against the dollar again.   What can we do to make things more secure for our employees working overseas without taking on too much business risk? Answer→

Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting: Impact on Employers

Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting

On May 26, 2011, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, No. 09-115. In the 5-3 decision, with Justice Kagan taking no part, the court affirmed the Ninth Circuit and held that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”) does not preempt provisions of Arizona’s Legal Arizona Workers Act (“LAWA”) imposing civil penalties on employers who hire unauthorized aliens and mandating that employers conduct employee background checks through E-Verify.


The IRCA makes it “unlawful for a person or other entity . . . to hire, or to recruit or to refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien.” 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(h)(2). While the IRCA prohibits states from imposing “civil or criminal sanctions” on employers who hire unauthorized aliens, it does allow states to impose penalties through “licensing and similar laws.” LAWA does just that, allowing Arizona courts to suspend or revoke the licenses necessary to do business in that state if an employer intentionally or knowingly employs an unauthorized alien. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§23–211, 212, 212.01.

The IRCA additionally requires employers to document via an Employment Eligibility Verification Form, commonly known as Form I-9, that all individuals hired after November 6, 1986, are either United States citizens or aliens properly authorized to work in this country. Answer→

Quirky Question # 165, Employment Cases Before the U.S. Supreme Court


This question is not especially “quirky.” I know that last year, you described the important employment cases that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to consider in the following year. I’ve seen a lot of press recently about the Walmart-Dukes case. What other employment cases will the Supreme Court be considering next term? Answer→

USCIS Fraud Unit Site Visits

USCIS Fraud Unit Site Visits

The Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been conducting employer site visits for several years.  The unit has recently expanded the worksite visit program by adding substantially more staff and broadening its investigative efforts.  What this means is that the employers that have sponsored foreign workers for employment (e.g., H-1B petition) may have an increased chance of getting a site visit by an FDNS unit officer (or a private investigator contracted by USCIS), who, in most situations, will arrive at the worksite unannounced.  Employers will want to be prepared for such surprise visits.

FDNS officers typically spend anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes at the employer’s site.  The officer will likely ask to speak to a human resources manager.  Infrequently, the foreign national beneficiary of the petition in question and his or her direct supervisor or manager may also be contacted. Answer→

Downsizing and Foreign Nationals, Quirky Question # 76

Quirky Question # 76:

I read with interest your analysis of alternatives to layoffs [Quirky Question # 71].  We have a slightly different issue.  Like many companies, we are facing the difficult prospect of downsizing staff.  We are a small technology company with operations in the US and an office abroad.  Among our professional staff are a number of foreign nationals with a veritable alphabet soup of immigration statuses.  We have a permanent resident, a couple of H-1B’s, and L-1A, an L-1B, a TN and an F-1 foreign student thrown in for good measure  If we lay off or reduce the hours or salaries of these individuals are there any special considerations we need to think about from an immigration perspective? Answer→