USCIS Releases New I-9 Form to Be Used by September 2017

i-9USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. Download instructions are available on the Form I-9 page. Employers can use this revised version, or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17, 2017. However, on Sept. 18, employers must begin using the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, “Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.”
  • USCIS removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

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Visa Options for Fashion Models (O-1B, H-1B3, and P-3 Visas)

NYFW 2Do you dream of walking down the runway at New York Fashion Week?  Are you interested in becoming a brand ambassador for a prestigious luxury brand?  Whether you’ve mastered the catwalk or discovered your niche in commercial modelling, several visa options are available depending on your level of achievement and reason for coming to the U.S.

Fashion models typically enter the U.S. in one of two ways— the O-1B visa (for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement) or the H-1B visa (for Specialty Occupations, Department of Defense Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models).  The majority of fashion models will apply for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, while a third option for models is the P-3 visa (for Artists and Entertainers who are Participating in a Culturally Unique Program).

H-1B3 Visa for Fashion Models

Melbourne-Model-Casting-Call-3-EditTo qualify for the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa, you must be a fashion model of “prominence” and the model must possess distinguished merit or ability. Continue reading

Plaintiffs Given Broad Access to Discovery in PAGA Suits by California Supreme Court

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by Grace Lim-Ayres, Esq.

On July 13, 2017, the California Supreme Court in Williams v. Superior Court (Marshalls of CA, LLC) issued an opinion addressing the scope of discovery in representative actions brought under PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, codified in Cal. Lab. Code § 2698 et seq.).  The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations.

The Williams Court unanimously reversed the trial court’s discovery order denying plaintiff access to statewide contact information for fellow employees of other Marshalls stores.  It held that plaintiffs in PAGA actions have access to a broad scope of discovery similar to discoverable information in a class action.  The plaintiff is entitled to statewide contact information at the onset of the case to determine which cause of action to plead, and whether a broader representative action is warranted.

In what could be considered another blow to employers in an already employee-friendly state, given the relatively low threshold for pleading, employees may now bring more PAGA claims that are in fact “fishing expeditions”, which will in turn require employers to spend more time defending against them.  In addition, it is clear that statewide contact information is relevant and discoverable in a PAGA claim at the outset of the case. Continue reading

The Grady Firm, P.C. Assists with Visas for Members of the Entertainment and Arts Industries

HollywoodLocated in the entertainment capital of the world, The Grady Firm, P.C. now offers immigration legal services for entertainers, artists, and athletes seeking employment in the United States. Whether you are a hip hop dancer, actor, graphic designer, model, photographer, filmmaker, or professional athlete, the Grady Firm, P.C. can assist you in obtaining your dream of working and living in the U.S.  In addition, if you are an artist interested in participating in a cultural exchange program or an individual who wants to share your home country’s culture with the American public, a visa exists as well.

The following are U.S. visa options available for members of the entertainment and arts industry:

filmmakerO-1B:  For individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry coming to the U.S. to perform in an event or project associated with this ability. Maximum stay: Initial period of up to 3 years. May extend for time necessary to accomplish the initial event in increments of up to 1 year.  No cap. Should be filed at least 45 days before employment. For more information, click hereContinue reading

Jennifer Grady, Esq. Speaks as Expert Practitioner Panelist at SelectUSA, the Top FDI Event in the Country

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Jean-Christophe Le Feuvre and Jennifer Grady speaking on issues to consider when hiring US employees

On June 18, Jennifer Grady, Esq., spoke as a panelist at SelectUSA Investment Academy held during the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., a top foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

The Summit, hosted by Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, connects global businesses with U.S. economic development teams to facilitate investment in the U.S.  The theme of the Summit was “Grow with US” which focused on the innovative business climate in the U.S. and opportunities for investment across the country.

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(c) Jennifer Grady

This year’s Summit had a tremendous turnout with more than 2,800 international business investors, U.S. economic developers, service providers, members of the press and other key stakeholders.  Economic development organizations (EDOs) from 51 states and territories and investors from over 60 international markets were in attendance.  CEOs from BMW, Oracle, ABB, Siemens USA, GE, General Motors, and other leading global

SelectUSA exhibit hall

Economic Development Organization Exhibit Hall (Photo Courtesy of SelectUSA: https://www.selectusa.gov/2017-investment-summit)

companies were in attendance.  Senior government speakers included Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.    Continue reading

O-1B Visa for Artists or Actors with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement in the Arts or Motion Pictures

filmmakerCalling all talented artists and actors!  Are you an actor trying to make a breakthrough in Hollywood?  Or perhaps you are a renowned violinist, famous choreographer, or an award-winning pastry chef?  If you excel in your field of arts or the motion picture industry, you may be eligible for the O-1B visa.  The O-1B visa is for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry who will perform in the U.S. in an event or project associated with this ability.

The O-1 visa can be an alternative to the highly competitive H-1B visa (for skilled workers in specialty fields), which in recent years has reached its annual cap of 65,000 visas within days after opening the program.  Unlike the H-1B visa, the O-1 visa has no annual limit on the number of visas available, it can be filed year-round, and the length of stay can be extended indefinitely based on the time required to complete a project or event.

Individuals who are essential to the O-1 applicant’s successful performance in the U.S. may apply for an O-2 visa in conjunction with the O-1 visa application. Continue reading

Q-1 Visa is an Opportunity to Share Your Culture through an Employer’s International Exchange Program

Q-1 visa

Photo courtesy of http://bit.ly/2ur8zu2

Are you interested in sharing your home country’s cultures and traditions while working in the U.S.?  Are you an employer interested in obtaining approval for an exchange program in your company so that you can hire international employees on a Q-1 visa?

If so, the Q-1 visa may be available to meet your company’s specific needs for international employees.  Known as the “Disney visa” because it was originally designed by Disney to meet their need for “cultural representatives” to work in Epcot World Showcase, the Q-1 visa is for individuals wishing to participate in an international exchange program administered by an employer.  It is most popularly utilized to obtain short-term employment with Disney and used by some hotel chains to temporarily employ chefs. Continue reading

Professional Athletes, Gamers, and Entertainers who are Internationally Recognized are Eligible for the P-1 Visa

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Photo courtesy of http://lat.ms/2vEE8z5

The P-1 visa is a viable alternative for athletes and entertainers who may not meet the “extraordinary ability or achievement” requirement of the O-1 visas.  If you are an internationally recognized athlete coming to the U.S. to perform individually or as part of a team, you may be eligible for the P-1A visa. Professional athletes from a wide range of sports including soccer, taekwondo, and online gamers receive P-1A visas.

If you are an entertainer who is part of an internationally recognized entertainment group coming to the U.S. to perform with the group or are joining an internationally recognized entertainment group in the U.S., you may be eligible for the P-1B visa. Examples of a P-1B visa recipient are foreign artists who perform at a SXSW festival, a group of stage actors, and circus performers.

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Visa Options for Entrepreneurs and Recent Grads: H-1B Visa through Global Entrepreneur in Residence and J-1 Visa for International Student Entrepreneurs through University Exchange Programs

In the absence of an official “startup visa”, and in lieu of the International Entrepreneur Parole Rule, which has now been postponed until March 2018, organizations and programs exist that help entrepreneurs from around the world establish their businesses in the U.S.  These programs are generally geared towards assisting international students who have developed a technology or innovation with launching a start-up in the U.S. that creates high-paying jobs.

H-1B Visa through the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program

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Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (Global EIR) is an organization that helps international entrepreneurs gain access to visas to come to the U.S. to build their businesses and create local jobs by partnering with universities.  A university will sponsor a foreign-born entrepreneur for a H-1B visa (which is not subject to the H-1B visa lottery and quota) to work on campus to provide mentoring to students, review business proposals, or teach classes.  This is a tremendous benefit, as an H-1B applicant had a one in four chance of making it through the lottery in 2017 before the application could be reviewed by USCIS on its merits. While working for the university, the entrepreneur continues to build his or her business in the U.S.  After 6-18 months, this option could lead to an O-1 visa and Green Card.

The Global EIR currently has a presence in 13 colleges and universities across four states, including the following schools: University of Alaska, Anchorage; Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage; Babson College, Boston; University of Massachusetts, Boston; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Missouri, St. Louis; and San Jose State University.

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P-2 and P-3 Visas for Performers, Artists, and Entertainers in Reciprocal Exchange Programs and Culturally Unique Programs

USA flag pin in international collectionIf you are coming to the U.S. to perform, teach, or coach under a reciprocal exchange program or a culturally unique program, you may be eligible for a P-2 or P-3 visa.

P-2: Performer or Group Performing under Reciprocal Exchange Program

The P-2 visa is available for individual and group performers coming to the U.S. to perform as part of a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the U.S. and an organization in another country.  Essential support personnel such as trainers or stagehands who are an integral part of the artist’s performance are also eligible for a P-2 visa.

Length of Stay:  Initial period is the time needed to complete the event, competition or performance, not to exceed 1 year.  Extensions may be granted for increments of up to 1 year in order to continue or complete the event, competition or performance. Continue reading

DHS Delays Debut of International Entrepreneur (Parole) Rule Until March 2018

international-movers-and-packersby Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On Monday, July 10, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would delay implementation of an Obama-era program that would allow international entrepreneurs the opportunity to come to the United States to develop and operate start-up businesses.

In its announcement, which was officially entered into the Federal Register on Tuesday, DHS stated that the program, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, would be delayed until March of 2018. According to DHS, the delay will allow for a pubic comment period on whether to fully rescind the Rule.

The International Entrepreneur Rule, which was issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prior to President Obama leaving office, would provide international entrepreneurs with an opportunity to develop and run a business in the United States. The Rule would permit around 3000 international entrepreneurs annually to come to the United States for the purposes of developing and operating a business that offered a significant public benefit. To qualify, the entrepreneur would have to demonstrate that their business promotes public interest in ways that include hiring U.S. workers and contributing to the U.S. economy. Continue reading

Travel Ban Update: U.S. State Department Issues New Guidelines Involving Close, Existing Relationships Within U.S.

by Raj Rathour, Esq. and Jennifer Grady, Esq.

trumpOn June 29, 2017, the U.S. State Department began implementing President Trump’s new visa criteria based in Executive Order 13780. The revised criteria bars U.S. entry for 90 days, for citizens without prior connections to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Stemming from a highly publicized decision by the Supreme Court, the current preliminary injunction has been narrowed to allow only “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States”. Current controversy revolves around the specific language, bona fide relationship,” and the potential for its interpretation of federal courts and officials.

Bona Fide Relationship

auditOn May 25, 2017, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of Executive Order 13780, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, which was an executive order signed by United States’ President Donald Trump on March 6, 2017.  That order placed limits on travel to the U.S. from certain countries, and by all refugees who do not possess either a visa or valid travel documents. According to its terms, it revoked and replaced the original travel bar Executive Order 13769, which was issued on January 27, 2017. Continue reading

Santa Monica, California’s Minimum Wage and Sales Tax Will Increase on July 1, 2017

Santa MonicaAs of July 1, 2017, the City of Santa Monica will implement changes to its sales tax and minimum wage.

For small employers with 1-25 employees, the wage will be $10.50 per hour.

For large employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will increase to $12.00 per hour.

In addition, for employee of hotels, the minimum wage will increase to $15.66 per hour.

California picFinally, the sales tax in the City of Santa Monica will increase to 10.25%, making it one of the highest in the nation.  California has the highest state-level sales tax rate, at 7.25%.

The five states with the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates are Louisiana (9.98 percent), Tennessee (9.46 percent), Arkansas (9.30 percent), Alabama (9.01 percent), and Washington (8.92 percent).

The five states with the lowest average combined rates are Alaska (1.76 percent), Hawaii (4.35 percent), Wyoming (5.40 percent), Wisconsin (5.42 percent), and Maine (5.5 percent).

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The Grady Firm, P.C. Partners with Patent Law Attorneys to Offer Broader Intellectual Property Services

usptoThe Grady Firm, P.C. continues to expand its service offerings in order to accommodate the needs of its entrepreneur clients. To that end, The Grady Firm has partnered with patent law attorneys specializing in Patent Prosecution (Pre-Filing, Patent Applications, Office Actions, Post-Grant Actions), Trademark Searches, Applications, and Monitoring; Copyrights; and Licensing Agreements.

A patent application is a request pending at a patent office for the grant of a patent for the invention described and claimed by that application. An application consists of a description of the invention (the patent specification), together with official forms and correspondence relating to the application. Continue reading

Anthony Mance, Esq. to Lead Immigration Department at The Grady Firm, P.C.

anthony-headshotThe Grady Firm, P.C. is pleased to announce that Anthony Mance, Esq., has been selected to lead its international immigration practice.  Over the last three years as an of-counsel attorney to the firm, Mr. Mance has helped dozens of clients obtain citizenship, a Green Card, or a visa based on family relations, employment, or investment. Specifically, he and Jennifer Grady, Esq. have submitted successful H-1B, F-1, OPT extension, J-1, E-2, L-1A, O-1, H-4, TN, EB-3, and EB-1 applications on their clients’ behalf.

Mr. Mance is an attorney with nearly a decade of experience in immigration and business law with which he has assisted individuals and businesses with the complexities of the immigration process.  Utilizing his knowledge of international policy, immigration law, business law and finance, Mr. Mance counsels his clients in a wide variety of personal and business ventures, and specializes in helping foreign entrepreneurs establish new businesses and careers in the United States, including corporate setup.  Mr. Mance’s clients include individuals, business owners, investors, institutes of higher education, non-profit organizations, and religious organizations.         Continue reading