Trump’s Travel Ban Unanimously Rejected by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

trumpOn February 5, 2017, President Trump’s controversial “travel ban” was unanimously rejected by the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, located in San Francisco, California. This controversial “travel ban” stems from President Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” that banned citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for the next 90 days, and suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

The Executive Order ignited protests in many airports around the country as US Customs and Border Protection officials struggled to interpret the new rules, and citizens of the banned countries were prevented from entering the United States.  Just three days later, the plaintiff, the State of Washington (“Plaintiff”) filed suit in the Seattle District Court, to stop the enforcement of the ban. Continue reading

DHS Announces New International Entrepreneur Parole Option for Startup Founders

international-flagsOn January 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new immigration avenue for foreign entrepreneurs who benefit the U.S economy. The “International Entrepreneur Rule” will serve as a pathway for qualified investors and foreign entrepreneurs to develop business enterprises which have significant public benefit in the United States.

This exciting news for start-ups and foreign entrepreneurs comes as a much welcomed development for those frustrated by the lack of immigration options available through the existing U.S. visas, which generally are not oriented to companies that are still in start-up mode.

Requirements

uscisThis new rule will be effective on July 17, 2017 and it will allow certain international entrepreneurs, on a case-by-case basis, to remain in the United States for up to five years in order to start or expand their businesses.  To secure the parole, three prerequisites are required: (1) applicant must submit the required application; (2) the application must be approved; and (3) a physical entry into the United States with the parole status is required. Continue reading

How to Comply With E-Verify Requriements

712fv2lM04L.pngOn November 2, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice increased monetary penalties substantially for employers who knowingly employ an unauthorized worker. Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is unlawful for an employer to hire or continue to employ a person knowing that the person is not authorized to work in the United States. This law requires that employers verify employment eligibility of all employees by completing a Form I-9.  Failure to comply with these rules subjects employers to substantial penalties. Continue reading

The Grady Firm Adds Intellectual Property Department to Support Entrepreneur Clients

intellectual-propertyIn order to support the dynamic needs of its entrepreneurs and business owners, The Grady Firm, P.C. has added an intellectual property departmentIntellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

An important part of growing your business is protecting your brand, which includes your company or product name, logo, or creative content.  At The Grady Firm, we can assist you with the following intellectual property services:

  • Trademark Name Search

  • Trademark Prosecution (Applications and Maintenance)

  • Cease and Desist Letters

  • Copyright Applications

  • Copyright Counseling

  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act counseling

To schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with our intellectual property attorneys, call +1 (323) 450-9010, or schedule an appointment online.

The Grady Firm Adds Andrea Graef to its Team of International Attorneys

01-17-17-headshotThe Grady Firm, P.C. is proud to add Mariandrea (Andrea) Graef, J.D., L.L.M., to its team of dynamic and international attorneys.

Ms. Graef has always worked at the intersection of law and business. Trained in both civil and common law legal systems, she brings her global view, business acumen and experience on international transactional issues to The Grady Firm. Ms. Graef earned her law degree from the Universidad de Las Americas Puebla in Mexico, and a Master of Laws L.L.M. degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in Los Angeles, California. She also studied at the prestigious L’Université Paris-Sorbonne in Paris, France and the Ludwig Maximilan Universität in Munich, Germany.  Ms. Graef is licensed to practice in all states in Mexico, and will be working under The Grady Firm attorneys on business, employment, and intellectual property matters in California, and all 50 U.S. states on immigration matters.

Prior to joining The Grady Firm, Ms. Graef counseled international trade companies on cross-border issues, earned extensive immigration experience, and continued her legal education in intellectual property and business law. She also worked onsite at a Fortune 100 Tech Company in California. In 2014, Ms. Graef co-founded an international consulting company and as an entrepreneur herself, is aware of the importance of understanding how business is done locally. Ms. Graef approaches every case from an international, interdisciplinary and multicultural perspective.

 Ms. Graef is fluent in Spanish and German, and proficient in French and Italian. She is a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA), American Bar Association (ABA), American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA), and Barra Mexicana de Abogados.

To schedule an appointment with Ms. Graef, please call +1 (323) 450-9010, or schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation online.

New Year, New Employer Responsibilities for January 2017

Golden gateCalifornia legislators continue to create new and revise old laws.  A summary of the changes for 2017, and annual best practices recommendations, are provided below:

  1. Take note of increase to minimum wage and update in payroll/ with payroll processor
  2. Advise employees of decreased mileage reimbursement to 53.5 cents per mile
  3. Post updated federal, state, and local ordinance posters in common areas
  4. Use updated I-9 form by January 21, 2017
  5. Distribute Notice to Employee to reflect changes in wages or company polices within 7 days of the change
  6. Update Employee Handbook (annually) and conduct Performance Reviews
  7. Ensure personnel files are up to date with signed documents (including Anti-Harassment policy and Arbitration Agreement, among others)
  8. Schedule Sexual Harassment training
  1. Minimum Wage

fee-increaseAs of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage has been increased to $10.50 per hour in California for employers with 26 or more employees, and remains at $10.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

In addition, several cities will see an additional increase in the minimum wage.  The following is a short list of cities with more expansive minimum wages for employers of all sizes, unless otherwise noted: Continue reading

IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rates Decrease in 2017

DSC03678

© Jennifer Grady

Beginning January 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are the following:

  1. 53.5 cents per mile for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck for business miles driven (down from 54 cents in 2016).
  2. 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents in 2016).
  3. 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged).

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs. Continue reading

Online filing with the EDD will be mandatory for Companies with 10+ Employees in 2017

bl30_online1_pg3_j_1974239g

Beginning Sunday, January 1, 2017, employers with 10 or more employees will be required to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports, and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). Employees with fewer than 10 employees will be subject to this requirement beginning January 1, 2018.

This mandate also applies to out-of-state employers who report payroll taxes to the EDD.

The e-file and e-pay mandate requires the following returns, reports, and payments to be electronically submitted: Continue reading

Increased Minimum Wage for Employers with 26+ Employees Starting Jan 1, 2017

fee-increaseThe California minimum wage law has been modified so that the wages will gradually increase to $15.00 per hour by 2022.

For the first time, the increases are grouped by employer size.  Employers with 26 or more employees will need to increase the minimum wage from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.  Employers with 25 or fewer employees will have another year until the minimum wage increases by fifty cents for their employees.

The schedule for the California minimum wage increases for large employers is as follows: Continue reading

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Very Real and Very Costly for Employers

150212-sexualharassment-stockWhile sexual harassment has been in everyone’s vocabulary since Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five graced screens in 1980, it has become a topic of increased importance and media coverage as more and more sexual harassment claims are brought against celebrities such as Bill Cosby, President-Elect Donald Trump, and former President Bill Clinton.  While you or your employees may not identify with these over-the-top personalities in positions of power, sexual harassment claims are very real and very expensive.

For example, a recent claim against the popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain cost the company $1 million in response to two employees’ claims that they were repeatedly sexually harassed and were subjected to a hostile work environment. According to the arbitrator’s written order, both women said they were subjected to offensive comments and conduct from the male kitchen staff at the restaurants, including jokes about sex, remarks about female workers’ bodies, and kissing and whistling noises aimed at female employees as they walked by. In addition, one of the women said she saw a group of male kitchen employees watching a pornographic video on a smartphone, and she frequently heard the cooks singing sexually explicit songs in the rear of the restaurant in University City.  The reality is that these activities occur more often than you might think.

To continue reading about the risks of sexual harassment in the workplace and how to protect yourself as an employer, continue reading our article in the December issue of the California Employer’s Report. Continue reading

DOL Rule Increasing Minimum Salary Requirements for Exempt Employees Now on Hold Per Court Order

gavelLast month, we discussed how the Department of Labor (DOL) was scheduled to implement a new rule that would increase the minimum salary requirements for exempt employees.  The new rule published by the DOL would have doubled the minimum salary requirements for employees from $455/week to $913/week. This rule was supposed to take effect on December 1, 2016; however, employers can breathe easy for a bit longer.

On November 22, 2016 a federal judge from the United States District Court in Texas temporarily blocked implementation of the rule, in response to a request by 21 states and business groups.  This delay is temporary, while litigation continues and the court makes a determination as to whether the DOL has the authority to implement such a rule. Continue reading

L-1B Intracompany Transferee Visa for Employees With Specialized Knowledge

international-movers-and-packersThe L-1B visa permits a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge from one of its foreign offices to one of its U.S. offices.  There is also the option for a foreign company that does not yet have an office in the U.S. to send an employee with specialized knowledge to the states to help establish a U.S. office.  Both the employer and employee must meet certain qualification requirements:

1. To qualify for L-1B classification in this category, the EMPLOYER must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad. Continue reading

Now is the Time to Start Preparing Your H-1B Visa Application

enter-usa-h1b-visaThe H-1B visa is one of the most popular ways for foreign professionals i specialty occupations to obtain a work visa, and even a Green Card in the United States.  A successful H-1B application requires sponsorship by the professional’s employer, and can be granted for three years, with one additional three-year renewal. The H-1B allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, and requires a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent.

Although USCIS will not begin accepting H-1B applications until April 1, 2017, it is critical
to start preparing your application now, as the competition for this coveted visa is fierce.  The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. However, the first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.  In 2016, USCIS received 236,000 H-1B visa applications within the first five days of the application period. Once USCIS receives enough applications to satisfy the 65,000 quota, it implements a lottery.  The applications that are not selected in the lottery are returned to the sender, along with their filing fees.  In 2016, there was a 25% chance of an application making it through the lottery with a Bachelor’s Degree, and a one third chance with a Master’s Degree.  Continue reading

Learn the Secrets Behind Starting and Building a Successful Law Firm on Feb. 21 with Jennifer Grady

law-firmOn February 21, 2016, attorney and entrepreneur, Jennifer Grady, Esq. will be teaching law school graduates how to open and develop a law firm from scratch.  Ms. Grady will provide the top 10 tips every small law firm owner should know, and will include real-world examples.  Topics will include entity formation, retainer agreements, marketing, and client retention.

loyolaThe seminar will take place at Loyola Law School on February 21, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.  The presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m., and will end with the opportunity for Q&A and networking.

To RSVP for this event, please sign up here. Continue reading

Join The Grady Firm and 2,000 Volunteers as we Adopt a Soldier Through Operation Gratitude on December 17

soldiers

Let’s join together as a community to give back to our country’s brave soldiers stationed around the world on December 17.

Operation Gratitude sends 250,000 care packages per year (almost 2 million to date!) to members of our armed services that include snacks, essentials, and letters to keep them motivated while they are away from home.

Join members of The Grady Firm, the Women Entrepreneurs Club, and nearly 2,000 other volunteers as as we participate in Package Assembly Day on December 17, 2016 from 9 am to 12 pm in Chatsworth, California.

On that day, you can assist with package assembly, read/screen letters, knit scarves, or write letters to our heroes.

You can also collect items in advance of the event to bring with you, or drop them off at The Grady Firm by December 16. Continue reading