August 1, 2016
Many Dominicans require their domestic employees to travel with them while they are in the United States. Domestic employees may travel on a B1 nonimmigrant visa reserved for business travel only. However, additional steps are required before being issued a domestic employee nonimmigrant visa. Domestic employees—who include workers such as nannies, nurses, drivers, and others performing services for valid travelers—will be working while in the United States, and require additional documentation.
Employers must fulfill certain steps to appropriately travel with a domestic employee. First, there must be a working relationship of at least one year prior to the date of travel. Second, there must be a legal contract paying the prevailing wage for the employee’s profession in the assigned United States territory. It is important to understand the difference between a minimum wage and a prevailing wage. A minimum wage is a wage set for all workers at the national and local level that cannot fall under an assigned dollar value. Many employers believe that domestic employees should be paid minimum wage and will usually arrive at the embassy with a contract reflecting this value. However, domestic employees must be paid the minimum prevailing wage in their region, and a B1 domestic employee visa will not be issued unless the employer complies with this legal requirement. Third, employers must understand the necessity of adhering to the contract used to obtain the B1 domestic visa. Failure to comply with the contract is a violation of United States labor law and an improper use of a valid B1/B2 visa. An employer’s visa, regardless of previous usage or travel history, will be canceled if there is sufficient evidence to prove that the contract has not been honored during travel to the United States. Logistical steps to better understand the appropriate prevailing wage may be found at the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center (http://www.flcdatacenter.com).
For further information on possible employer violations and assistance for domestic employees, the emergency number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.