The Grady Firm Speaks USC Gould Law School LLM Students

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Jennifer Grady and Andrea Graef

On April 11, 2017, business and immigration attorneys, Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Andrea Graef, JD, LLM, spoke to a group of foreign lawyers who are earning a Masters in Law (LLM degree) from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in downtown Los Angeles, California.

As a licensed attorney from Mexico and a alumna of the program, Ms. Graef spoke to the students about her experience transitioning from student to attorney, and how proper planning is essential to obtaining a job and work visa upon graduation.  one of the more popular strategies for recent LLM graduates is to use the one year available of Optional Practical Training (OPT), and apply for an H-1B visa during that time to take advantage of the cap-gap extension.

Ms. Grady explained the various visa options in detail, including the Specialty Occupation H-1B visa, J-1 Trainee visa, and TN visa for professionals from Mexico and Canada, and the E-2 Investor Visa for new and existing US businesses and L-1A option for executives, managers, and entrepreneurs opening an office of an existing foreign business in the United States. Continue reading

What to Do When DHS or ICE Comes Knocking at Your Door

By Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

ICE 2The Trump Administration has repeatedly indicated that it will take an aggressive and proactive approach to enforcing immigration laws. While it is not yet clear how and when this will translate into developed policy, it is prudent for employers to be prepared for increased oversight and enforcement. One issue that demands particular attention is how employers should handle on-site visits by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. These visits can range from basic inspections and audits to large-scale immigration raids and arrests. While such visits can be confusing and intimidating, developing a coherent plan for dealing with immigration visits and effectively communicating that plan to relevant employees will reduce the risk of making costly mistakes.

The following is a brief overview of immigration-related site visits, and what employers can do to properly prepare for, and react to, such visits. Continue reading

The Grady Firm Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary

DSC02492Thank you to all of our clients, referral partners, friends, and colleagues who attended The Grady Firm‘s Fifth Anniversary Party on April 6, 2017 at our firm’s Beverly Hills headquarters.  We had an amazing time catching up and making new connections!  We were humbled by our guests’ outpouring of support, and that many of them braved over two hours of traffic each way (and even a plane ride!) to be part of our special celebration. Our guests were able to make some new connections of their own, and have already started doing business together with their new connections.

During the event, we presented a slide show with the firm’s milestones, which you can view here.

Heartfelt thanks go to Good Heart Catering for graciously catering this event, ProChile Los Angeles for donating bottles of Chilean wine and Pisco, the California Employers Association for donating a $50 visa gift card and webinar ($109) value, and to Tom and Donna Grady for helping before, during, and after the event. Continue reading

Germans Must Retain Their Citizenship Before Becoming Dual-US Citizens: Beibehaltungsgenehmigung

GermanyUnder the German Nationality Act “Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz”, the moment a German citizen acquires citizenship of another country, he or she loses German citizenship automatically because German law does not allow dual citizenship in this context. This means that if a US resident wishes to obtain US citizenship while retaining his or her German citizenship, the applicant must first petition the German government to allow the applicant to maintain his or her German citizenship.  This requirement is unique to German citizens, and provides an additional, preliminary step before the applicant may apply for US citizenship.

In the case of an applicant who is a Legal Permanent Resident, or habitually resides outside of Germany, particular consideration is given to whether the applicant has a continuing relationship with Germany, and if he or she will suffer disadvantages or hardship if he were unable to naturalize as an American due to this rule. Continue reading

USCIS Reaches FY 2018 H-1B Cap In Only 5 Days

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Lottery BallsWASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the “Master’s cap.”

USCIS began accepting applications on Monday, April 3.  It will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  However, USCIS suspended premium processing on April 3 for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally-mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Continue reading

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 Requirements

712fv2lM04L.pngby Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On 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

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© 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

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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