President Trump’s travel ban announcement this week has employers around the world concerned about their employees and business operations.
Rebecca Bernhard is a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in both its immigration and labor and employment practices. She says she has been receiving calls from companies across every industry concerned about what to do next. She says businesses who have people/operations anywhere in the world need to start implementing strategies now as they should assume more bans are on the way.
“The President’s written proclamation bans foreign travelers from entering the US, it does not ban all flights or all passenger flights from Europe. The ban is consistent with the earlier bans – US citizens, green card holders, and certain qualified family members are exempt. These types of travelers should make sure they have adequate documentation,” Bernhard says.
“However – according to CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection), all people entering the US from any country subject to the ban could face quarantine upon their entry to the US. There are 20 active quarantine stations in the US and the CBP and the CDC have authority – without these bans – to detain even US citizens in such facilities,” Bernhard says.
“Businesses need to think about their own operational needs: can they get their employees back to the US before 11:59 pm tonight?” she says. “Businesses should assume more bans will be implemented before we are out of the woods and take measures now to address employees in other countries.” For example, if this spreads further into India, she notes, this will have a significant impact on many US companies with large numbers of Indian visa holders in the US and with operations in India.
“Employers with Europeans already in the US should seek legal counsel on options for these individuals. While these individuals are not subject to this new ban, the measures in their own countries combined with the new ban here in the US may create circumstances where someone who needs to go back to their home country in Europe to renew their passport or other key documents will not be able to re-enter upon renewal,” Bernhard says.
“Unfortunately the new proclamation to include Europe in the ban of entry does not provide us with any information on the cooperation between Canada, Europe, the UK and the US in helping to control the spread. It is interesting, for example, that people who have traveled to the UK recently are not included in this newest ban on European travelers, notwithstanding WHO and UK’s own health reports on confirmed cases which are at least as high as some of the smaller countries included within the new European ban,” Bernhard says.
“We are relying on authorities at the point of origin to enforce this ban – but what quarantine measures should we be implementing here at home? The WHO, the CDC, other reputable medical organizations do not appear to be on the same page with the White House. As a result employers are having a hard time understanding what they can do to keep their employees and workplaces safe beyond limiting travel without running afoul of claims from employees alleging discrimination or privacy violations,” Bernhard adds.