Can H1B work from home? Yes, they can if few conditions are met. A lot depends on the location of your home with respect to your work office.
A concept called MSA (metropolitan statistical area) is important as it defines the boundaries of approved LCA.
You have to post LCA irrespective of MSA but an H1B amendment is also required if your home is in a different MSA.
Note that the requirement is not judged by 50 miles distance as many people believe. An MSA may change within a mile too.
This article will discuss:
#1 Home address is in same MSA
You can now post LCA within 30 days of starting work at home.
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Normally, you have to post this LCA on or before starting work at home.
How to Post LCA at Home
If your home is within the same MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) as your office, you can just post a new LCA at your home for at least 10 days and work tension free from home.
Attorneys recommend printing and pasting (or hanging) the approved H1B LCA at two prominent locations inside your house. These two locations can be
- Your kitchen and
- Your work table or work room inside the house or apartment
Take a picture of these LCA postings and send it to your HR’s official business email address. This will work as an official record.
This same LCA can be posted at your employer’s main office with your home address if the office is open.
LCA approval from DOL is not required if you are working within the same MSA.
A lot of employers in the New Jersey and New York area have closed offices and have sent emails to H1B and L visa employees to post these LCA’s.
USCIS should not take any adverse action in case of a site visit while your employer has officially closed the office or advised you to work from home.
We still suggest H1B and L1 visa workers keep such an official email from HR saved in their safe folder as proof.
#2 Working from Home Outside MSA
Normally, working from home that falls outside the metropolitan services area requires a newly approved LCA from DOL and H1B amendment.
During special situations like Coronavirus, the employer can ask H1B worker to work from home outside MSA if these conditions have been met without H1B Amendment:
(A) Work for up to 30 days
- H1B employer keeps paying the salary as per PWD at the original location.
- Pay lodging (Hotel cost or home rent) cost for all workdays and holidays.
- Pay the actual cost of travel, meals, and incidental or miscellaneous expenses (for both workdays and non-workdays).
A real-life example:
H1B transfer approved but the employer asked to keep working from home in a different state. The employer’s office is closed due to Cornavirus at this time.
(B) Work for Upto 60 days
- H1B employee has a permanent place of work at the original location mentioned in LCA.
- The H-1B worker spends a substantial amount of time at the permanent work site in a one-year period; and
- The H-1B’s home is located in the area of the permanent office location and not in the area of the short-term worksite(s) (e.g., the worker’s personal mailing address; the worker’s lease for an apartment or other home; the worker’s bank accounts; the worker’s automobile driver’s license; the residence of the worker’s dependents).
USCIS Site Visits – H1B, L1
USCIS is conducting H1B fraud detection site visits over the phone instead of physically visiting employer officer location.
One of our guests has reported that the USCIS FDNS officer contacted the employer and then called the H1b employee directly over the phone instead of visiting the office physically during the Coronavirus emergency week.
USCIS site visit officer then asked H1B employee to submit these documents via email directly to the officer:
- Copy of work ID card
- List of job duties performed on a daily basis.
- A copy of college degree
- Last four pay stubs
It is possible that H1B employers lay off even after Lottery selection.
It is not entirely known yet but the signals are not good, as all major US airlines are laying off and reducing flights.
If your H1B employer reduces the budget and layoffs happen, it is possible that they will not call you to work in the US even after your H1B has been approved.
This similar trend was seen in Jan 2009 after the recession when H1B employers simply did not have the job anymore after getting approvals in April 2008 lottery.
The employment termination should not be done simply on the basis of the H1B worker catching CoronaVirus. You can use your employer’s medical insurance to get treatment.
You will most probably be quarantined and would be placed under state-provided medical screenings as the COVID-19 cases are under the limelight.
Your visa status should not be affected and you can come back to work normally once you are cured.