Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Education Path For A Criminal Lawyer

The legal system plays a fundamental role in protecting the rights of individuals. Working in the legal profession is often viewed as a lucrative and rewarding career. There are many areas that a layer can specialize in. One area that is both challenging and lucrative is criminal law. A criminal lawyer has the opportunity to work in legal defense, prosecution, and even pursue a career as a trial judge.

Criminal lawyers, or criminal attorneys, advise and represent those who are accused and charged with a criminal act. They present evidence, advocate for their client by arguing on their behalf in court, and also make sure their clients' rights are not violated. Like other lawyers, criminal lawyers must follow a strict code of conduct and ethics.

There are a number of educational steps one has to take in order to obtain a successful career as a criminal lawyer:

1.) The educational requirements to become a criminal lawyer are normally 4 years of undergraduate study followed by 3 years of law school. A bachelor's degree is required for law school admission. Courses taken in a number of different in areas is considered an asset. Courses can include: English, social studies, political science, public speaking, government, philosophy, and history, are useful. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can be very valuable when applying to law school. One may also want to consider volunteering or working in some area of criminal law.

2.) The next step of a career path to criminal law is to apply to an accredited and recognized law school. You first have to take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. The LSAT exam is used as a standard assessment tool by law schools. The LSAT is given four times per year at hundreds of locations across North America. The test is designed to assess an applicant's propensity for practicing law.

3.) Acceptance by most law schools depends on the applicant's LSAT scores, the applicant's undergraduate school's standing in the education community, and prior work or volunteer experience. There may also be a personal interview. Once accepted into law school, there is three years of intensive study. At the end of the three years, one will acquire a law degree. Law school graduates receive the degree of juris doctor. (J.D.) Generally, one cannot work as an attorney until taking and passing the bar exam. Each state has its own bar exam. Graduates will need to pass the bar exam in the state(s) where they intend to practice law. After passing the bar exam, a license to practice law will be granted, and one can begin to practice criminal law in that state. A person must be licensed to practice law in the courts of any state or other criminal field. Many states also require applicants to pass a separate written ethics examination. Graduate lawyers usually begin their careers as associates working with experienced criminal lawyers or trial judges.

Criminal law is one area that is seen as a successful career choice. Criminal law is a challenging career but plays an important role in ensuring that the judicial system maintains and promotes equality and justice for all.

Many professional criminal lawyers can be found in the state of Florida. These criminal attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale are adept in defending clients charged with diverse crimes.


How Does Your Solicitor Assess The Value Of Your Whiplash Compensation?

Every solicitor will need to prepare your whiplash claim as if it was going to go to a final Court hearing. In the majority of cases this will not happen, but your solicitor must always prepare for the worst case scenario. Therefore, they have to obtain as much evidence to support your claim as possible. The most important evidence that is needed relates to your medical condition.

If you have suffered a whiplash injury, your solicitor will need to obtain details of your medical history to ensure that you have not suffered previously with any neck problems. They will ask you to complete a form of medical authority which will allow them to write to your General Practitioner and obtain copies of your medical notes. They will also write to the Accident & Emergency Department if you attended hospital to obtain copies of the notes for your visit.

Reviewing The Medical Notes. Once they have received the medical notes, they will review them to ensure that the evidence supports your claim for pain and suffering. They do not do this to challenge your evidence, merely to support your evidence. They also need to examine the notes to see whether you have had any previous neck problems and to see whether the accident has aggravated those.

Instructing A Medical Eexpert. Once they have reviewed your medical notes your solicitor will have to instruct a medical expert to carry out a medical assessment. This could either be a General Practitioner or an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Before they can instruct an expert they have to agree the choice of expert with the other driver's insurance company or solicitor. This usually happens by sending a choice of three potential experts, one of which is then approved by the insurers.

Once the name has been agreed your solicitor will send a letter of instruction detailing the circumstances of the accident and your subsequent injuries. A date will be arranged for you to attend a medical examination (you are normally welcome to take a friend or your partner with you) and a relatively brief review of your medical condition will be carried out. The Doctor will ask you to turn your head left and right, backwards and forwards, to assess any limits in the range of movements as a result of your injuries.

He will ask about your pre-accident medical history and will also have reviewed your medical notes (and reviewed the report from your solicitor).

Once the examination is complete you will leave the Doctor and he will prepare a report. You will be able to claim any travelling expenses to attend the appointment as part of your legal claim for compensation.

Sometime later the report will be received by your solicitor and will be reviewed to support your claim for compensation.

Other Evidence To Support Your Injuries. In addition to the medical evidence, if your injuries are relatively severe your solicitor may obtain statements from members of your family, your partner and friends. This will be important to detail the impact the injury has had on your day to day living. The other witnesses will be asked to attend the solicitor or he may interview them in their own home.

Other Evidence To Support Your Losses And Expenses. In addition to the evidence from the medical expert and witness statements, you will be asked to keep all receipts and wage slips (if you lost earnings) so that your solicitor can prepare a full and detailed account of your losses. The document he will prepare is called a 'Schedule of Special Damages'.

Your solicitor will need all documentation so that he can prove to the other side (and to the Court if necessary) that you incurred these expenses and lost earnings or made other losses as a result of the accident. The documents required might include:-

Wage slips (to show loss of earnings, bonuses and promotions etc). Receipts for repairs to your car. Car hire receipts (for a replacement car). Medication. Treatment receipts (e.g. physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment).

All of this evidence is required so that your claim for pain and suffering and the losses attached to it can be presented to the other side and to the Court.

Read more about Accident Claims Scotland? Nick Jervis is a Solicitor (non-practising) and consultant to Edinburgh Solicitor and Personal Injury Specialist Stan Moffat of Moffat and Co.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wills and Trusts - Legal Facts and Figures

What is the difference between wills and trusts, and what difference does it make to me?

You have probably seen some film where all the family gather around to hear the lawyer reading the will of a recently deceased great uncle, with the assembled family members sitting and listening eagerly to the provisions of the trust set up under the will. If you imagine that such proceedings are only relevant to very wealthy people, or you simply do not recognize the importance of dealing with these issues while you are still in a position to do so, you are not alone. Estimates are that over half the population of the United States do not get round to making a will. Presumably many of these never proceed to drawing up a will because of a lack of grasp of its relevance to their situation.

The distinction between wills and trusts.

The concept of the will is better known that that of the trust. The will is a legally bounding document that lays out how a person's property is going to be divided up after his death. Executors to administer the will are named and there may also be provisions appointing guardians for young children until they search a certain age.

The trust establishes a body for taking over the ownership and managing the deceased person's assets. Trustees are named to manage the trust and distribute funds or property to beneficiaries. There are a number of different kinds of trust. Most frequently a discretionary trust is set up. As the name indicates this trust arrangement leaves it up to the trustees to decide how assets should be distributed. The person who sets up the trust normally puts in writing his wishes about how he wants the trustees to handle the assets.

Other trust types include the protective trust where a person is given a life interest in the trust. It is also possible to establish what is termed an accumulation and maintenance trust. This arrangement can be used to protect the interest of young children who are not in a position to make financial decisions on their own behalf. They become eligible to benefit from the trust when they reach a certain age, eighteen or twenty one are the usual ages set.

It is also possible to make trusts revocable or irrevocable. In the latter case the person setting up the trust resigns the right to change its provisions while in the former case he reserves the right to change its provisions.

Whatever provisions you decide to make for your estate, and it is very worthwhile to make such provisions, you are strongly advised to use the service of an experienced lawyer who knows all the intricacies of your state's property law

Principal attorney Michael W. Alpert is an Ivy-League graduate of Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law. Admitted to practice in all New York State Courts and Eastern and Southern District of New York. The New York City law firm opened in 2005. Prior to firm foundation, a Deputy Nassau County Attorney in the Bureau of Municipal Affairs and the Bureau of Tax Certiorari and Condemnation. See: New York Attorney

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Handicapped Or Disabled - Special Needs Individuals Need a Plan After the Caregivers Have Passed On

For the most part, the law is relatively standardized across state lines. However most attorneys are only licensed to practice law in one specific state. What this means, for example, is even though an attorney may practice in Bloomington, MN or Minneapolis, MN, that same attorney may be unable to provide legal services or advice to a person in Wisconsin, a mere 15 miles away. The exception to the rule is any licensed attorney is able to represent in the federal court system. This can be crucially important to those individuals that are at much higher risk to lose their individual rights, such as special needs individuals, developmentally disabled individuals, or those who have suffered a personal injury..

Developmentally disabled and special needs adults often are ignored or are not given the same basic treatment that non-developmentally disabled people are given. For young children it can be worse. In fact, the general public frequently has viewed disabled and special needs individuals as bizarre and less than human. Parents can be a beneficial buffer between the outside world and their children. Eventually though, that buffer will one day be gone.

In order to ensure that your special needs relative is properly taken care of, an attorney specializing in drafting supplemental needs trusts and special needs trusts needs to be consulted. The purpose of a supplemental needs trust is to not jeopardize any government benefits for which a special needs individual is eligible, such as medical assistance and supplemental security income, while still providing other additional benefits to the special needs individual. This type of trust may be given a different name depending upon each state.

A special needs trust is a little different. Special needs trusts are designed with inheritance or proceeds from a personal injury case in mind. When the parents, relative, or primary caregiver passes away, the trust will help protect the beneficiary's individual medical assistance benefits and supplemental security income benefits and still allow an inheritance or settlement to be received.

Many of these same attorneys will help plan the estate of parents and individuals as well. All of these wills, trusts, and estate planning are designed to ensure the disposition of any money and property are received by the listed beneficiary instead of being liquidated and sent to the state. The most important function of a will and estate planning though, is the selection of a proper guardian for younger children should the unthinkable occur and the parents die prematurely.

For more information and guidance about supplemental needs trusts and special needs trusts, visit Special Planning, LLC. specializes in estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, and many types of insurance including long term care, disability, and health insurance.
Daniel Elliott is an independent contractor who authors articles and media on a variety of topics for diverse audiences., Inc. ( produces Website design, hosting, and search engine marketing services for many of the clients, industries and markets related to the articles and media authored by Dan Elliott. If you would like Dan Elliott to ghost write or pen an article for you or your company, please contact him with your specifications.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

United States Fiance Visa: Do We Need to Meet Before we can get a K1?

The United States Fiancee visa (known in immigration circles as the K1) is a favored immigration method for many unmarried couples wishing to be together in the USA. In order to better understand the K1 process it is first necessary to understand some of its requirements.

At the same time, acquiring a US fiance visa is possible, but US immigration law imposes certain requirement before one may do so. Many stipulations can be circumvented, but others must be adhered to.

An inflexible regulation governing K1 visa law is the provision that both the K1 visa petitioner and beneficiary must have been in each other's physical presence before the USCIS, the descendant of the INS, will grant a fiance visa.

When they enacted the legislation promulgating the K-1 visa, the legislators made it very clear that the visa petitioner and beneficiary ought to have met at least once before a fiancee visa should be issued. Inherent in a K-1 visa application there is a requirement that the relationship between the parties must be genuine. One factor that tends to prove the bona fide nature of a relationship is the fact that both parties have met in person. Even in the computer age where a very genuine and caring relationship can arise between two people utilizing online chat, email, and two way video; US Immigration law still mandates that those in a bona fide relationship meet 1 time if a K1 application is to be granted approval. In extenuating circumstances a K-1 visa application might be approved by USCIS where the couple has never been together, but that scenario would be very out of the ordinary. Even still, the Immigration Service very rarely approves a K-1 application if the couple has never met each other in person. There are certain cultures and religious groups that will not allow an affianced couple to meet prior to the day of their marriage. As a result, USCIS has carved out a sort of niche exception to the K1 meeting requirement where the fiances' religious practices forbid meeting.

Further, there is an extreme hardship waiver that can be obtained that waives the meeting requirement for a K-1 visa. If one wishes to have the meeting requirement waived they must prove that a failure to grant a waiver would result in an extreme hardship by forcing the US Citizen to travel in order to meet his or her fiancee. In many cases, an example of this type of hardship exists where the US Citizen has some sort of debilitating illness.

This showing of extreme hardship is akin to an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility which requires a showing of extreme hardship in order for a finding of a legal ground of inadmissibility to be waived.

For more information contact Integrity Legal via email at or call toll free 1-877-231-7533 or on the world wide web please visit:


Cheap Dental Insurance Rates - Find Affordable Dental Insurance Quotes

If you want to get dental insurance and save, you need to know the dental insurance rates that are offered by different insurance providers. You need to get the one that works best for your lifestyle and is within your budget.

The insurance quotes on dental insurance rates can help you with your objective. It´s like you´re window shopping online. Just with the click of your fingers, you get an idea on how much dental insurance rates are from this provider and how much it is from the other provider.

If you are having a hard time looking for dental insurance rates you can afford, you shouldn´t give up. There are so many sources for what you are looking for, you just need to figure out what plan do you want exactly. Eventually, you will find a policy that will comply to your demands.

The dental insurance rates depend on the dental operation you want done. Before you sign up for a particular insurance provider, you need to know as much as you can about dental insurance rates which include co-payments and deductibles.

If you feel you are already know the basics of dental insurance rates, then you can fill up one of the countless insurance quotes which you can download online. The form is so simple and you can fill it up just like that.

In doing so, it is easy for you to find the best value for your money. You can also take a peek on the premium that you are entitled to once you decide on which insurance plan you are going for.

Make sure that the dental insurance rates you choose provide you with the coverage you need. Most importantly, the price must be within your budget.

Can you believe that people are still asking why you need to know about dental insurance rates? Well for one, at least if you are informed about the matter, you have a clue on how expensive dental care is. Dental insurance is like health insurance.

You pay for it, yes, and it might seem like a hassle to some people but think of it this way. It will be harder for you to pay for every visit to the dentist that you have to do if you don´t have dental insurance as opposed to having one.

At least with dental insurance rates, you are confident enough that you are getting your money´s worth. A dental operation is not needed for you to maximize the money you used to buy a plan from the dental insurance company.

You can just make the most out of the benefits that come from the plan. For example, teeth whitening. There are some dental insurance rates that allow you to have one cleaning per year while other dental plans allow you to have two.

Learn where to buy cheap dental insurance at my site.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

EFCA and a Little RESPECT - What You Can Do to Prepare


I am astounded that so many of today's viable companies are failing to prepare themselves for the drastic changes that will likely be brought about by the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) [fn 2] and the Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers Act (RESPECT). [fn 3] Although the jury is still out on the likelihood of their passing during this legislative session, one thing is for certain - unions will continue to work vigorously in order to ensure that this golden opportunity will not pass them by.

What Exactly is EFCA?

You have undoubtedly read dozens of articles and opinions about EFCA and its intentions. Depending on what side of the aisle you are on, you already have a firm understanding of the Act and its potential consequences. Simply put, EFCA would make it easier for unions to organize workers without your knowledge and quickly unionize your company. In fact, under EFCA, a union could effectively organize and file before it is even brought to your attention. Rather than provide you with yet another opinion on why EFCA should not become law, I will discuss how EFCA would affect your business and what you can do to prepare.

Another Caveat - The RESPECT Act

Before you delve into EFCA, you need to be aware that the current administration intends on adding yet another ingredient to the mix that will aid EFCA and its ability to circumvent the current process. In its most basic form, RESPECT would redefine the role of a supervisor thus making them eligible for bargaining [fn 4]. Currently, supervisors are exempt and considered part of a company's management. These change(s) would practically eliminate the position of "supervisor" as a legal classification and allow the unions to gain a powerful tool in the organizing process. The unions would add an element of your management to their membership and permit them to use union supervisors as a means to recruit subordinate workers.

EFCA and its Objectives

Once you sift through the rhetoric and study EFCA in its entirety, you will quickly understand how damaging this bill could be to your business. There are three (3) main issues proponents of EFCA want included in the package. First, they want to eliminate current secret ballot elections with "check-cards." Second, they want to fast-track negotiations into arbitration. And third, they desire substantial fines and punitive damages be imposed only on employers. Below is a quick comparison of the current law and what changes EFCA would create.

· Currently, an election is held if more than 30 percent of employees sign statements asking either for representation by a union.
· With EFCA, you are unionized if authorization cards are collected for 50% plus one of your employees, no election needed.
· Under current law, employees are afforded the opportunity to hear from BOTH SIDES during a campaign period.
· Under EFCA, employers will have no knowledge of the card collecting process nor would they be allowed to discuss the issue with their employees.
· Presently, any election held is supervised by the NLRB, which ensures that employees cast their ballots in a confidential manner.
· EFCA will implement a "check card" system that will be prone to intimidation and peer pressure by union organizers because employees will not be able to cast their votes privately.
· Under current NRLB rules, the union and the employer negotiate over a collective bargaining agreement that will define certain the wages, benefits and other critical workplace issues.
· Under EFCA, if an agreement cannot be reached within a specific amount of time, an arbitrator appointed by the federal government will resolve the dispute.
· For decades, both parties are required by law to bargain "in good faith" to try to reach an agreement.
· However, under EFCA, unions would have no incentive to negotiate a contract "in good faith." Union organizers could easily slow down the process to ensure that negotiations go beyond the deadline thereby mandating the appointment of an arbitrator.

EFCA & RESPECT - A Dangerous Combination

This combination is disturbing on more than one level. First and foremost, RESPECT will exacerbate an already coercive process in the securing authorization cards. As previously mentioned, an employee now has the right to a "secret ballot" election, which provides them with the ability to vote without fear of intimidation from the union or fellow employees. Not only does EFCA strip the employee of this right, but RESPECT would make that vote known to the employee's SUPERVISOR as well. Imagine a situation where one or more of your employees are asked to cast an open vote - the results of which are immediately known by those present including the union organizers, their co-workers and now their would-be union supervisor. No rational individual could believe that this employee would vote in opposition to the union if he wanted to remain in good graces with not only his co-workers but also more importantly, his supervisor.

In addition to the employee being coerced into a union he may not really need, the relationship between employee and supervisor would be forever skewed. Supervisors are routinely charged with making numerous decisions regarding their subordinates including scheduling, pay, vacation and disciplinary matters. Bear in mind that if your supervisors become unionized, they will then be required to act in the best interest of the union - not your company. Accordingly, you will be faced with questions never before anticipated. How do you engage those supervisors? What will be your policy on providing information to those individuals? Can you trust them to help you run your company? How will union supervisors affect your bottom line? How vulnerable am I to violating the NLRA? These and other compelling questions await you should RESPECT become law. The time is now to take action - you can take steps to prepare yourself for the inevitable.

The Current Issues - Their Anticipated Results

1. Secret Ballots Being Replaced by "Check-Cards"

This is the most widely publicized and debated proposal under EFCA. Generally speaking, EFCA will remove the current secret ballot system in favor of a check-card. Currently, an election is held when a union acquires signed authorization cards from at least 30% or more of employees. Although unions argue that the election process favors employers, this could not be farther from the truth. Unions routinely win over half of elections held and in 2008, they won about two-thirds of all elections held. [fn 5]

Under EFCA, if a union collected authorization cards for 50% plus one of your employees, your company would be instantly unionized. Moreover, you will have no knowledge of this process nor will you be allowed to discuss the issue with your employees. More importantly, the check-card system will be prone to increased intimidation and peer pressure by union organizers because employees will no longer be permitted to cast their votes privately.

Because EFCA will open the door for union representatives to engage in coercion and other pressure tactics, your employees will be subjected to not only harassment by those union representatives, but also intense peer pressure by their co-workers. Your workplace will experience increased levels of anxiety and strife between the non-union and unionized employees. It is also not unrealistic that employees may assert you have allowed a "hostile or intimidating work environment." Normally, this term is used in cases of sexual harassment, but I believe that courts will entertain such assertions for employees who can demonstrate hostility or resentment from other employees to include harassment and retaliation. Accordingly, you will notice an immediate decrease in productivity and an increase in tardiness, "no-shows" and claims of illness. Moreover, you may also experience a reduction in employee morale and an upsurge in workplace confrontations.

Your job is to implement some sort of "bullying prevention policy" so that it will be in place and apply to all employees, both union and non-union. Ensure that this policy is properly distributed and included in any future collective bargaining.

a. One Alternative to Check-Cards

Even if the check-card provision fails to pass, unions and their legislators are already proposing alternatives such as "quickie elections", a.k.a. "EFCA Lite or EFCA 2.0." Under this proposal, union organizers would be permitted to secretly organize employees in advance of any filing of an election petition. The union would be able to predict, with almost certainty, whether or not they would win or lose a "quickie election" against your company. Having this type of pre-emptive analysis would allow the union to modify its existing strategy or temporarily forgo that particular venue in favor of a more viable one. Either way, you will not have the ability to talk directly with your employees and you will be perceived as disinterested even though you had no knowledge of the attempted unionization.

Because you would be prohibited from discussing these and other serious issues with your employees, the organizers would then become the employees' sole source of information about unionization. The union would be free to make promises, misleading or untrue statements, or both without any rebuttal by you. Because the unions will forgo any negative views of unionization such as compulsory dues, the possibility of strikes (including their consequences) and even union discipline, the employees will not have a full understanding of the ramifications should they join.

After the union has spent weeks indoctrinating your employees, then, and only then would the employer would be allowed a relatively short period of time (rumored to be about 21 days, which is half of the 42 days currently allowed) to educate your employees about unions and to clarify or correct any distortions made by union representatives.

Regardless of when you are allowed to address your workforce, you will be at a huge disadvantage in trying to ascertain what issues were discussed and what distortions were made about you and your company. Since you will not be able to rely on your employees to be completely forthright about their discussions with union organizers, you will be up against overwhelming odds trying to convince your employees that the union may not be a quality alternative.

2. Binding Arbitration on First Contracts.

Under EFCA, if an employer were unable to reach an agreement within a set time frame (TBD) the issue would be ruled on by an arbitrator appointed by the federal government. No big deal, right? Wrong. Bear in mind that the President has recently announced his intention to nominate two union attorneys to become board members of the NRLB. Both nominees are long-time labor lawyers and senior members of the SEIU and the AFL-CIO. [fn 6]

Also take note that the President will have the ability to: 1. Appoint three individuals from his party to the staggered terms of the Board; 2. Designate one of them to be the Chairman; and 3. Nominate the General Counsel. If these appointments are confirmed by the Senate, there will be a Democratic majority on this powerful labor board for the first time in many years.

This of course would be advantageous to union organizers - and harmful for you. Union negotiators could slow down the process causing a stalemate in negotiations, which would lead to the mandatory intervention of the arbitrator. Unfortunately for you, this individual would have little or no experience in your particular business and has no incentive to ensure that your company is treated fairly. Moreover, the appointee will not be accountable for any mistakes or errors in judgment that would be part of a binding resolution.

Currently, and throughout our history, both labor and management have used certain options at their disposal in order to gain leverage and win concessions the most common of which are strikes called by the union and lockouts imposed by the employer. If EFCA is passed into law, then both the company and the union (employees) will be forced to accept terms and conditions that may or may not be in the best interest of all concerned. You (and your employees) should understand that your company is at the mercy of an arbitrator once negotiations come to a halt.

3. Increased Penalties Against Employers.

EFCA would impose significantly harsher penalties on employers found to be in violation of the NLRA. Employers who discharge an employee in violation of the NLRA while union organizing activity or bargaining for an initial contract is taking place would be liable for back pay/damages under the new law. EFCA would also impose a civil penalty of up to $20,000 for each unfair labor practice willfully or repeatedly committed by an employer during such times, in addition to any make-whole remedy already available under the NLRA. The difference? EFCA will not impose similar penalties upon unions found to have committed similar ULP's against you.

This proposal is designed to instill fear in the minds of small business owners. The mere chance that a company could commit an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) [fn 7] and face substantial fines would be enough to cause any owner to surrender to union demands.

What You SHOULD Do

First, sit down with your management team and develop a comprehensive action plan. The type of plan you design will depend largely on the size and nature of your business; your venue (are you an "at will" state); your company history; and your ability (especially financial) to ward off a union campaign. If you have the means, create a "task force" comprised of senior managers selected from various departments to include IT, payroll & finance and of course, human resources. It is suggested that you do not include those "supervisors" who could eventually be reclassified under RESPECT.

Once you have your team in place, develop a position statement and disseminate it throughout your company. Ensure that this statement clearly defines WHY the company is confident a union is not in the best interest of all concerned. Depending on what bills are eventually passed, this publication may be your only opportunity to state your position to your employees. Make every assumption that your company is being targeted by union officials and the goal of your team is to make every reasonable and legal effort to prevent this from occurring. Bear in mind that if EFCA passes, the unions will begin targeting those companies that are the most vulnerable and any sign of weakness will surface.

What You Should NOT Do

By all means, refrain from any act that could be alleged to be a ULP. Examples of those actions can include, but not be limited to: Threatening employees with loss of jobs or benefits if they join a union; promising benefits to employees to discourage union support; transferring, laying off, terminating or assigning employees more difficult work tasks because they engaged in union activity.

Understand that EFCA will provide for not only more stringent penalties for companies who are found to be in violation, but this determination is SUBJECTIVE and will be made by a NLRB employee.

What You CAN Do

a. Analyze

The best time to conduct a study is BEFORE something happens. Charge members of your task force with making an overall assessment of their department and your company. Have your team identify any vulnerable spots in your employee structure, why those weak links exist and remedy those problem areas quickly but effectively.

Union concerns are usually workplace safety, improved benefits and wages, better working conditions and increased job security. For example, an operations manager may determine that a certain piece of machinery is consistently breaking down causing employees to work harder and under hazardous conditions. Remember all the union needs is one disgruntled employee and they are in the door.

You may also consider tightening security in order to eliminate the use of company computers for non-business related activity. Bear in mind that this type of ban must be uniformly applied [fn 8] and if implemented, make certain those changes are published throughout the entire company.

b. Educate.

Provide instruction to your managers on how to maintain a union-free work environment. Once you understand the various reasons why employees seek out unions (and why unions are drawn to them) you will be able to identify early warning signs of potential union interest.

Start by educating your employees about the significance of signing a union authorization card. Workers need to understand that signing a card is similar to signing a power of attorney and giving up their right to voice their individual opinions or deal directly with company management about their issues. You can also inform workers that once they become a union member, they are subject to various forms of corrective action by union management to include discipline and fines. In addition, once members select a representative, even those workers who do not belong to the union are bound by the collective bargaining agreement and are prohibited from negotiating individual contracts with the employer. [fn 9] Stress that union representation does not guarantee increases in wages or benefits and add that if both sides are compelled into arbitration, they may in fact receive less in certain areas.

Again, stress to your employees that once they go union, they will be bound with whatever work conditions are agreed upon under collective bargaining or worse, those mandated by the aforementioned government arbitrator. Remind them that should they later determine that the union is not in their best interest, ridding themselves of the union as a whole will be difficult, if not impossible.

b. Document, Document, Document.

Whatever your strategy, make sure that you properly document every decision and action taken by management including any past and pending disciplinary action; proposed changes in employee benefits to include compensation, insurance and retirement plans; changes in your policies and procedures; reclassification of employees - you get the idea. Make sure that you have a valid reason for making such changes (i.e. that corrective action was completely justified; that employees are getting better health coverage by changing providers; that the company can demonstrate lower turnover and increased succession since implementing new guidelines). If and when you are called on to justify your actions, you will be prepared to defend those choices.

Instruct your managers to document and subtle or obvious changes in behavior by their employees. Indicators that union organizers may be present are employees who meet in abnormal places and meet frequently with different people and employees who are considered "leaders" are now seen as followers or outcasts. They may notice workers from different departments begin to meet regularly. There are also outward indications that a union may be present. Excessive and abnormal absenteeism; complaints from a group of employees rather than one person; and employees who ask repeatedly questions about company policies or guidelines.

c. Training.

Provide your team with the latest information regarding EFCA and RESPECT as well as relevant updates to NLRA. Make sure that you clearly define your objectives to the team and ensure that they understand the negative impact a union could create. If necessary, have counsel or HR personnel train your managers so they are capable of answering questions posed by their employees. In conjunction with this, your company should immediately being networking with groups and organizations that are opposed to EFCA and companies who have remained union-free.

You should have a workplace violence plan, policy, or training program in place. Train supervisors (and yes, RESPECT supervisors) to identify and report inappropriate or unauthorized behavior. Make it clear that unauthorized behavior will not be excused and will taken seriously. Appoint someone to document and track this (and other plans) and to adjust when deemed necessary. If you have not done so within the past year, begin a regimen of training classes in labor law and unions, sexual harassment, EEO, etc. Review and update your orientation program with a focus on being union-free, workplace succession and other positive traits within the company. Employees who are properly informed and trained consider themselves part of the team and may not feel the need to search for a sense of belonging (a union).

d. Develop a Response.

Don't wait for a union representative to come knocking on the door before you arm yourself and your employees with the understanding and knowledge needed to ensure that the union representative is acting within the law. As previously mentioned, educate your employees so not only can they understand what a union is all about, but also to ensure they can identify and report various forms of harassment, coercion, or any other illegal or unscrupulous tactic used to "force" them to sign an authorization card.

Include your security department in any response plan. Employers who have in-house security should ensure security managers are kept abreast of all recent developments and should be required to attend all "task force" meetings. Companies who sub-contract their security should keep confidential information to a minimum due to the fact that select security officers are unionized.


Make no mistake. The current administration and union lobbyists are working diligently to implement these unprecedented changes by using the check card proposal and other provisions. The facts are that EFCA and RESPECT will do nothing more than reduce the overall production of viable companies and force small business owners to go under. Your responsibility is to ensure that if this occurs, your company will be prepared to successfully contest a union campaign or minimize any damage as a result of a union addition.


[fn 1] The author is a HR/ER consultant. Contact @

[fn 2] The "Employee Free Choice Act" (EFCA) H.R. 1409, §560. This Act was originally introduced on March 10, 2009 in the 111th Congress. The latest bills introduced in both houses of Congress are similar to last year's bill, which passed the House but failed in the Senate due to a filibuster.

[fn 3] The "Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers" (RESPECT) H.R. 1644, §969.

[fn 4] Section 2(11) of the NLRA presently defines "supervisor" as: Any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment. 29 USC §152(11).

The RESPECT Act would change the definition of "supervisor" by altering Section 2 (11) in the following three ways: Striking the word "assign"; striking the phrase "or responsibly to direct them"; and inserting the phrase "and for a majority of the individual's work time" after the phrase "in the interest of the employer."

[fn 5] Sam Hananel, Associated Press - Published on Thursday, May 07, 2009.

[fn 6] Craig Becker has been Associate General Counsel for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for 17 years and works within that same capacity for the AFL-CIO. Becker earned both his law school and undergraduate degrees from Yale in 1981 and 1978, respectively. For the past 27 years, Becker has taught and practiced labor law.

Mark Pearce has also practiced union-side labor law for a large portion of his career. In 2008, the New York State Governor appointed Pearce to serve as a board member on the NYS Industrial Board of Appeals, an independent, quasi-judicial agency in charge of reviewing certain rulings and compliance orders issued by the NYS Department of Labor. According to his law firm's bio, Pearce has also served on the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Coordinating Committee of the AFL-CIO, and is a member of Cornell Adjunct Faculty -Upstate, New York State United Teachers Local # 37-950, an affiliate of American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO). Pearce received his law degree from the State University of New York, and his undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

[fn 7] 29 U.S.C. §158.

[fn 8] Media General Operations Inc. d/b/a Richmond Times-Dispatch v. NLRB, Nos. 06-1023, 06-1061, and 06-1213 (4th Cir. March 15, 2007). The court found that that an employer violated the NLRA by prohibiting employees from using its e-mail system to discuss union matters while allowing employees to send e-mails concerning other personal and non-work-related matters.

Jeffrey L. Starnes, J.D.
Associate Partner
Noland & Associates

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Does Your Trust Need a Corporate Trustee Or a Corporate Beneficiary?

There are a wide variety of diverse business structures that exist in the current environment and this can be the cause of much stress and confusion for many business owners. However, it need not be this way. The best structure for your business is generally determined by what your main intentions or desires are for both the short term and long term. This could be for asset protection reasons, optimizing tax effectiveness, or a combination of the two, or perhaps even something else altogether.

The best way to determine which structure is best for you is to speak with your professional business advisors, including your accountant and tax lawyer as well as any other financial advisors that you might have. Your advisors will be able to work with you to devise the best business structure that will meet your intentions and the needs of the business.

One of the most common ways of using a business and trust structure is to have a family trust. Perhaps the main benefit of a family trust is that at the end of each financial year you are able to nominate which beneficiaries are to receive proceeds from the trust as well as how much each will receive. Of course the money never actually leaves the trust, but profits must be distributed and they are immediately re-invested back into the trust.

The benefit of this arrangement is that this allows funds to be distributed to those beneficiaries with the lowest income levels and therefore less tax is paid. For example, it may be ideal to direct proceeds to the younger members of the family or non-working spouses as their income will be in the lower range marginal income tax brackets.

Alternatively, if all of the beneficiaries of a family trust are earning significant amounts of taxable income then it may be beneficial to have a corporate beneficiary of the trust. In this situation, any proceeds that are allocated to the corporate beneficiary are taxed at the Company Tax rate of 30% as opposed to the higher marginal tax rates that may be applicable for individual beneficiaries. For example, if the individual beneficiaries are in the top marginal tax bracket a significant 15% could be saved off your tax bill.

You may also elect to have a company as the trustee for your family trust. This ensures that the trust is not owned or dictated by one individual but rather it is overseen by all directors of the company. In this arrangement all of the assets of the trust are legally held in the business name. This provides a level of asset protection for the trust and its assets as should the company or any individuals come into financial trouble the assets of the trust are secure and unable to be touched by any debtors.

As you can see, there can be significant benefits in adopting trust arrangements into your new or existing business structures. Family trusts, corporate trustees and corporate beneficiaries are just one slice of the pie. With the right advice and by implementing the optimal arrangement for your individual situation you can not only potentially reap the benefits of significant tax benefits but also secure the ongoing stability of your business and financial affairs.

Contact the team of professional lawyers and accountants at The Quinn Group to discuss the best business structure options for your business. Whether it is changes to existing structures or advice for new or proposed ventures we will work with you to ensure that your affairs are structured to work towards the goals you desire. Call us on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online inquiry.

The Quinn Group is an integrated, accounting, legal, and financial planning practice offering expert advice to help you achieve your business and personal goals. With more than 15 years' professional experience, we are committed to building long-lasting relationships with our clients by providing superior service in a timely and cost-effective manner. For more free advice please visit Lawyers.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Security Clearances and Intellectual Property Laws

Many people brag about having a security clearance, but it's really nothing to brag about it only means that the government now controls what you say. In other words if your field of endeavor has to do with something that is top secret you can't even talk about it, you can e-mail anybody and discuss it, and you can't even really talk about the subject with anyone except people at work.

Worse, when you quit or are reassigned you can't talk about that topic with anybody because now you are somewhere else and there's no one at work that understands the topic and you can't talk to them, even if they did. Running a think tank is very interesting, and on occasion people have asked for me to work on various projects and discuss with me the issue of security clearances, and nondisclosure agreements when it had to do with corporate secrets, or new technologies.

For a civilian about the worst thing you can ever do is get a security clearance, even if you are a consultant and you are promised to be paid handsomely for a short-term project. Because once you get a security clearance you can be thrown in jail if you say something about a specific topic. Even if you read about the exact issues in the newspaper, or a trade journal, it's often still considered secret and you can't even discuss the subject matter.

As far as I'm concerned, "you can take your security clearance and shove it!" And for you corporate folks you can take your NDA or nondisclosure agreement and put it where the sun doesn't shine. The fact is if you are in the know and you take the right trade journals, and the right news alerts, and you study the industry and read all the white papers then the chances are you know more than most people with security clearances in that particular subject anyway.

Secret or black projects often marginalize and compartmentalize the project so no one knows about the whole thing. I often find when talking to people that have security clearances' when I mention a certain topic they tell me they're not allowed to talk about it and when I start talking to them anyway they are shocked that I know all that I know, they always assumed that all that was top secret.

That's ridiculous, top secret in today's fast-moving information flow is about two weeks. If you sign a security promise to get a security clearance you are going to be sorry in the future. Please consider all this, because I know more than you think.

Lance Winslow is a retired franchisor - Lance Winslow's Bio. Lance Winslow is formerly the CEO of WashGuys family of franchises for instance one of Lance Winslow's favorite companies on the team;

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IPR Enforcement and Impact on BRIC Economies

With the TRIPS Agreement coming into force in 1995, BRIC countries have undertaken significant reforms in their intellectual property systems. A relatively new analytical definition of the industrial components of the economy is 'Creative industries', in which creativity being an input and intellectual property is the output. Globally, mapping exercises have concurred that the creative industries are indeed 'economically significant' and legitimately comparable to other high profile sectors in terms of their contribution to income, employment and trade.

Concept of IPR in BRIC

Brazil enacted its first intellectual property law in 1887. Brazil meets International Standards of Intellectual Property Protection. Brazil is a signatory of several conventions, treaties, and agreements that define basic, internationally-accepted standards of intellectual property protection including, among others, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Brazil is also a member of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The new Industrial Property Law came into force in May of 1996. This law brought Brazil's patent and trademark regime up to par with the international standards specified in TRIPS. Intellectual Property protection in Brazil includes Copyright Law, Software Law and also some secondary laws.

In Russia the concept of IPR was understood as mostly patents during the times of the former Soviet Union. The owner of the Patents as well as all innovations was always the state. The concept of IPR has already been drastically changed in Russia and now IPR is seen in consisting of Patents, Trademarks, utility modes, designs, domain names and copyrights. After 10 years of Russia's independence, the country has started to come into compliance with International requirements for intellectual property rights protection. Today also much work is needed to be done to bring Russia up to International standard.

Indian Intellectual Property Laws keep pace with the technological developments & Intellectual Property Laws of other countries. India has different positions with respect to intellectual property right in prior to the member of TRIPS and after the signatory of TRIPS agreement. Patent, Copyright, Trademark and Design were only existed as branch of IPR prior to TRIPS agreement. However, at present Patents (Amendment) Act 2005, TradeMarks Act 1999, Copyright Act 1999, Design Act 2000, Trade secrets, Layout Design of Integrated circuits 2000, Geographical Indications 1999 and Plant Variety 2001 related to IPR are enforced in India. India signed the TRIPS agreement in 1995, joined Paris convention in 1998, Budapest Treaty in 2001, Universal convention for Copyright (UCC) in 1952, Washington Convention for Integrated Circuit in 1989, and convention in Bio-diversity (CBD) in 1994. India is signatory to Berne Convention and Indian Government has already approved Madrid Protocol.

China has had a history of 25 years in the filed of Intellectual property rights protection. China's current legal IPR framework began in the 1980s, however, in that short time, China has made impressive strides in protecting and enforcing IPR. China became the member of WIPO in June 1980. The patent law of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was adopted in 1984. In 1993 the law of the PRC against unfair competition was enacted and the copyright law was enforced in 1990.

Enforcement of IP Rights

The originate and history of IPR in BRIC countries as explained above indicates the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the BRIC countries has also been introduced long back , and the journey is clearly far from over.

In spite of having diverse histories, the BRIC economies are receiving roughly similar treatment from the wealthiest nations. Copyright and trademark piracy have always been chosen as a topic for the assessing the future of BRIC intellectual property regimes. However, other areas of intellectual property protection have broader significance to most industries and play a vital role in the economic development of the industry as well as the nation. In particular, the impact of patents on innovation and economic performance is so complex that a well organized patent system is crucial to ensure maximum benefit for a country's firms and its overall economy.

Despite divergent pasts, the BRICs are generally on the same page today when it comes to the protections afforded pharmaceuticals. The revised law in Brazil now complies with TRIPS, at least in regard to subject-matter protection. Brazil instituted a formal system for the approval of generic pharmaceuticals. After Russia instituted modern patent property rights with individual ownership, Russia currently protects pharmaceutical patents. The previous Indian Patents Act (1970) recognized patents on pharmaceutical 'processes', but not on 'products', allowing domestic pharmaceutical companies to produce cheap copies of patented drugs made by foreign companies using alternative production methods. India's introduction of product patents in 2005 heralded innovation and rapid development of that nation's pharmaceutical sector and delivery of new medicines. The Mashelkar Committee revised report was submitted in March 2009 concluded that every effort shall be made to provide drugs at affordable prices to people of India. The report also stated that it would not be TRIPS compliant to limit granting of patents for pharmaceutical substance to NCE (New Chemical Entities) only, and exclude an entire class of inventions i.e incremental pharmaceutical inventions. According to the conclusion of this report, incremental innovations" involving new forms, analogs, etc with significantly better safety and efficacy standards shall be encouraged.

Chinese social environment for the protection of intellectual property right is complex. The locally produced generics and copy products dominate the Chinese drug market. It is estimated that about 97 percent of the drugs produced by local companies are generics or counterfeits in China.

The component available in all the BRIC compulsory licensing statutes is the provision for government use in times of national emergency. Commercial working of patent is mandatory in India, Brazil and Russia. The failure to manufacture a patented article locally may lead to the imposition of a license. According to Indian Patent Act importation does not amount to working of a patent. Perhaps the most significant compulsory license use by BRIC countries will come not from supplying the home market, but rather from exporting pharmaceuticals to developing or least-developed countries that have taken out licenses. As explained above, India, China and Brazil each have significant pharmaceutical manufacturing sectors and are accomplished at producing generic medications and all of them are the members of TRIP. Natco had filed application for compulsory licenses for export of generic anti-cancer drugs Sunitinib and Erlotinib, both patented in India to Nepal under section 92A of the Indian patent law. However, Natco subsequently requested Controller of Patents to withdraw its applications for compulsory licenses.

Despite the similarities in compulsory licensing provisions, there is a significant divergence in how those flexibilities have been historically utilized in the BRICs. The differences serve as an outline of relative intellectual property development, and may provide a metric for future evaluation. More importantly, it is possible that one path will provide the paradigm for the other BRICs seeking a balance between rights and access.

Economic Significance of IPR on BRIC economies

With the BRICs strengthening their IPR systems during the past decade they have experienced increases in real flows of imports and increases in the real stock of inward FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). The authorities in BRICs have exhibited stronger IPR policies, because of the recognition that infringement activities impose a cost in terms of foregone tax revenues and job creation, with adverse affect on inward technology transfer as well as domestic innovation.

Between 2000 and 2005, the BRIC countries made a contribution of 28 percent of the global growth in dollar terms and 55 percent in purchasing power parity terms. The intra- BRICs trade also reported to accelerate to 8 percent from 5 percent in 2000. In BRIC countries technology transfer via trade and FDI has been an important factor into developing technological capabilities. There have been countless signs of developing trade relationships, including the sharp spurt in Brazilian trade with China, Chinese investment commitments in Brazil and the exponential growth in trade between China and India.

IPR alone does not determine technological success or even increased access to technology, other complimentary factors that specifically affect innovation and technology diffusion such as quality of knowledge institutions, financial system, availability of trained human capital, and networks for research collaboration or interaction are the important factors which BRICs have to facilitate for the technological success.

Software Patents: A unique field of patenting

There is intense debate over the extent to which software patents should be granted. Different countries and regional offices have different standards for granting software patents. Section 3(k) of the Indian patents act prohibits the grant of the patent an invention that is directed to software per se. Indian Patent Office has now introduced Draft Indian Patent Manual 2008. As per section 4.11.6 of Draft Indian Patent Manual 2008, the method claim should clearly define the steps involved in carrying out the invention. It should have a technical character. In other words, it should solve a technical problem. The claim orienting towards a "process/method" should contain a hardware or machine limitation. Technical applicability of the software claimed as a process or method claim, is required to be defined in relation with the particular hardware components. Brazil provides special protection to software by copyright and software laws which came to effect on 19th June, 1998 and Feb 1998 respectively. A US federal court Judgment on disallowing business method patenting, may have a direct impact on the ongoing debate over amendments to the Indian patents manual. It has been studied that Business method patents are seven times more likely to be litigated as compared to other patent.

In Brazil infringement of copyright in software can give rise to criminal penalties. After the Berne Convention, computer software was treated as a kind of literary work under the Copyright Law in China. Software is still barred from patenting in Russia.


BRICs have all found their own way in preserving at least some legal sovereignty in the intellectual property arena. Although the BRICs have so far grown more than envisaged, yet all is not satisfactory as far as the economies of BRICs are concerned. Current success is obviously no guarantee of future performance. More progress is required if they are to continue to deliver the best possible outcomes over a longer period of time.

Snigdha Rani Das is a Managing Associate in the patent department of Anand and Anand and a registered patent agent as well as a trademark agent. She holds a B.Tech degree in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering.

Her area of expertise is in prior art and patentability search, patentability assessment, drafting of the patent specification conforming to Indian and International level, prosecution in India and Internationally, providing opinion, handling opposition and infringement analysis in the area of Electronics, Software, Business methods, and Mechanical. She actively participated in various workshops in the IP sector and given lecture in the International conference.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

DNA Test For Family Based Immigration Cases

In a family-based immigration petition, the applicants are required to submit primary documents such as birth certificate, school records, and other documents that help verify the claimed family relationships. When these initial or secondary documents are missing or have proved inconclusive, the U.S. immigration authorities such as USCIS or U.S. embassies overseas may request the petitioner and the beneficiaries to take a DNA test in order to determine the biological relationship scientifically and conclusively.

The immigration applicants bear the complete responsibilities of arranging and paying for DNA testing. However, the U.S. immigration authorities strictly require that the DNA test, if pursued, be performed by one of the laboratories accredited by the AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks).

Typically, DNA testing is utilized to determine paternity, maternity and siblingship in family based immigration cases. Most immigration applicants may need these DNA tests under the following circumstance:

The majority of the applicants who choose to take a DNA test are requested by USCIS after they file the petition or by the U.S. embassies/consulates after their interview because their primary documents do not satisfy the immigration authority to approve the petition. The request may come in a form of Request for Further Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). In this situation, the DNA test is completely voluntary and optional. However, because of the conclusive power of DNA family relationship testing, the testing results are regarded as a piece of critical evidence for the immigration purposes.

If an individual opts for the DNA test to prove the family relationship, he or she can contact one of the AABB-accredited DNA testing laboratories that are approved by the U.S. immigration authorities to perform this type of test.

Typically, the DNA laboratories with knowledge about the immigration DNA test process will send a specimen collection kit to the requesting U.S. immigration agency overseas or its designated panel physicians, who will arrange and witness the specimen collection for tested parties overseas. The tested parties residing in U. S. can go to one of the specimen collection facilities associated with the testing laboratory. At the collection, the tested parties will be properly identified and their IDs verified to satisfy chain of custody, which ensures that the testing results can be used as legal evidence.

The collected specimens then will be shipped directly back to the testing laboratory in U.S. for analysis. When results are generated, the DNA laboratory will send the results directly back to the requesting USCIS field office or U.S. embassy/consulate overseas in conformity with the official immigration testing protocols.

If chain of custody is broken in this process, the immigration authorities can challenge the results. The DNA test results cannot always guarantee the approval of an immigration case.

Related information about DNA test for immigration purposes can be found on USCIS website and on Department of State's website.

Universal Genetics ( is a leading AABB-accredited DNA testing laboratory in the U. S. Conveniently located in Los Angeles and with a large specimen collection network across the country, Universal Genetics has helped a lot of immigration applicants bring their families together through DNA testing. Universal Genetics has accumulated comprehensive and in-depth knowledge about immigration DNA tests and the testing protocols. It has a service team that is able to speak multiple languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Universal Genetics is proud to be a specialized DNA testing laboratory for immigration purposes.

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Immigration Laws in the United States

Immigration law is the federal law which regulates immigration to the United States. Immigration law in the United States is governed by federal statutes and determines whether a person is an alien, the rights, duties, and obligations associated with being an alien in the United States, and how aliens gain residence or citizenship within the United States. Immigration laws also deal with asylum seekers. The Naturalization Act of 1790 was the first federal immigration statute.

Modern immigration rules are governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. This Act created the Immigration and Naturalization Service also known as the INS to serve as the federal agency responsible for the enforcement of immigration laws. However post 9/11, the INS was replaced by the Department of Homeland Security. Three agencies of the Department of Homeland Security - U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement (CBE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - now perform the duties of the INS. The Immigration Act of 1990 equalized the allocation of visas across foreign nations, eliminating archaic rules, and encouraging worldwide immigration.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 deals with illegal immigration. This Act imposed tough criminal sanctions on employers hiring illegal aliens. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 regulates the process of an alien entry into the United States.

A person can become a US citizen by birth or by naturalization. Naturalization is the process by which aliens can become US citizens. The process of naturalization is governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act. An alien seeking US citizenship must file an application with the USCIS. The alien must be at least 18 years old and a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and must be residing in the US for five years immediately preceding the date of application for naturalization.

There are separate rules of naturalization of aliens whose one parent is a US citizen or an alien married to a US citizen. Alien relatives of a US citizen can also apply for US citizenship based on the relation to the US citizen. The USCIS will make a decision on the application and inform the alien of its decision. If the application is denied, the alien can file an appeal and request that the application be decided by another officer. If the second officer too denies the application, the alien can seek a review of the decision in the US District Court.

Raul Jimenez has worked as a state prosecutor for the last 5 years. He is a specialist in Civil Law and has taught various college level courses. Currently Raul is working to develop the Legal Services section of, California's premier source of information. If you are looking for any type of legal service within the Greater Los Angeles area, be sure to check out

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Obtaining an Eb5 Investment Visa at a California Regional Center

If you have decided to use the eb5 visa to enter the United States from your home country, your next step is to decide where to open your business. If you are just using the typical path to an investment visa, you can select any area in the country. However, if you do not want to manage your business everyday, a Regional Center in a Targeted Employment area is best for you, in which you have about 50 areas to choose from.

Many immigrants select the sunny state of California. Considering that its economy is somewhat extensive and stable, this is not surprising. It seems nearly any business can thrive in the large state, and there are several Regional Centers to choose from. One is the California Military Base, or CMB, which is centered on six military bases that are now closed. The geographic location is in both Southern California and the County of Sacramento.

There are many benefits to going with CMB when you obtain your investment visa. This particular location combines the money put in from investors like you with both private funds and government money. The result is the creation of more than ten jobs, and you do not have to be directly involved in the hiring process. Ensuring you fulfill this requirement is paramount in the investment visa procedure, so this should be an important consideration.

This location also tries to ensure that you will see a return on investment. There is a four percent cap on business expenses, which means that you will not have to put a lot of money into business operations. This is especially positive if the business does not do particularly well for some reason, as you will not lose much money from day-to-day expenses. Another safeguard in the investment visa process through CMB is the existence of an escrow account in which your investment funds are placed until the petition gets approved. No one else has access to your money, so if you are denied an eb5 visa, you will get your $500,000 back.

The CMB location has been approved by the USCIS, which means it has full government support. The two entities work together to ensure that you get approved fast and can open a company with minimal risk or daily involvement. Proving the creation of at least ten full-time jobs is particularly easy at CMB, as this location has consistent contact with the government, which in turn facilitates progress toward an eb5 visa for you.

Lastly, the location of CMB is prime. California is known for its great weather and multitude of things to do. You may choose to open your company through CMB, in which case it will be less than just a couple hours from the beach. Furthermore, if your business does particularly well, you might choose to live within walking distance to the beach. The ability to let the Regional Center handle your company's daily operations will certainly offer you time to just enjoy life, which is easy to do in sunny California.

For more information visit EB-5 Investor Green Card or visit the website for information on obtaining an EB-5 visa.

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Quick Facts About United States Green Card

How to Get Permanent Immigration Status (Green Card)?

Basically, there are five ways of being a permanent immigrant of United States:

1. By immigration through a family member, who is already a permanent resident
2. Immigration through employment (by complying to the employment eligibility criteria for US)
3. Immigration through investment (by investing a fixed amount of money in US)
4. Immigration through Diversity Lottery (also known as DV lottery) program, and
5. Immigration through "The Registry" provisions as described in Immigration and Nationality Act

More information about the benefits and the ways of getting United States green card is available on website of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

United Stated Green Card Lottery

Every year 55,000 people get permanent immigration status or Green Card through Diversity Lottery program of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applying for a green card through DV lottery program is among one of the easiest ways of getting Green Card.

This process is called lottery, because the winners are selected randomly through an automated computer program. Unlike other process of permanent immigration this is easier, as people do not have to go through rigorous documentation and verification process.

There are a few difficulties when applying to the lottery

Difficulty in filling in an online form - Many people still need help using the computer and a limited access to internet.

Language Difficulties - The form and all explanations are only available in English.

Technical difficulties with the photograph -Technical aspect (size, resolution, format, uploading an image) as well as content aspects.

Time - Due to the great load on the SD website during the registration times, the form is limited to half an hour, after which you will need to start over. And must be submitted in Oct-Nov.

Application Service Review Providers

A possible solution for the difficulties in application completions could be to use one of the professional organizations that assist clients to overcome the above mentioned barriers and to employ on this opportunity to enter the green card lottery program.

Usafis is an application review provider for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Usafis services hundreds of thousands of applications a year. Usafis services guarantee that a person's application will qualify for all the standards listed by the U.S. government Immigration policies and rules regarding this program, by providing a professional support and assistance in helping clients to fill out their form in the best way possible and submitting all the form at the right time.

If you are also interested in immigrating to the United States then Diversity Lottery program is the best way to apply for Green Card.

Green Card Lottery Online Application Services. Enter US Green Card Lottery program online to win a US visa with USAFIS. For more information please visit us at:

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Consider the States That Have an EB-5 Regional Center

If you are planning to use the eb-5 visa, particularly the Regional Center route, you have a lot of decisions to make. The obvious ones are deciding whether you will start a new business or buy a company that is in trouble financially. If you do start a new company, you must select a product or service to sell, and then hire ten new employees. It seems like the decisions are endless, but one of the most important choices is where you will start this company.

So you have already decided to go down the eb-5 Regional Center pathway to owning a business and entering the United States. Once you have created a business model, you need to choose an area to set up shop. You should take into account the areas that need a new business most, but you should also consider the environment in which your new business will thrive. If you plan to live near the new company, you should also think about the type of surroundings you want in your new home. Vermont is just one state that has the eb-5 Regional center program and welcomes new business owners.

If you are worried about getting approved, you should select an area that is known for high approval rates. Vermont not only has a 100 percent rate of approval at the time of this writing, but it is also known as one of the fastest approved areas. U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services appears to place eb-5 Regional Center approvals at the top of their to-do list, particularly in Vermont. It could be because of the currently stable economy compared to some other states, or it is perhaps due to the large array of industries that are successful in the state, such as sugaring, lumbering, and the dairy market. Additionally, enough jobs are needed that getting applications for new companies approved is important.

Nearly every area in Vermont qualifies as an eb-5 Regional Center, which means that you have many options if you move there. Additionally, you will have more assistance in Vermont than in other states, as the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development runs the Regional Center. This means you do not have to participate in day-to-day operations of your business if you do not want to. This gives you freedom to live your life how you want, including choosing an area away from your business if you desire. You can live anywhere from larger cities like Burlington and Rutland to smaller towns like Montpelier and Newport. No matter where you live, know that the Vermont eb-5 Regional Center program also affords business owners two week per year for free at a resort that offers golfing and skiing. Clearly, if you want to live the good life in the United States, the eb-5 visa in Vermont could be for you.

Of course you can choose any state that has a Targeted Employment area. Vermont is just one of about 50 current centers. However, if you enjoy cold weather, skiing, and snowboarding, Vermont might be the best place for you. The ability to obtain your visa quickly, a need for your business, and allowing the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to help operate your company should also be considered advantages for this state.

For more information visit EB-5 Investor Green Card or visit the website for information on obtaining an EB-5 visa.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Are the Differences Between All Those Identity Theft Protection Services?

Identity theft protection is basically a way for you to stay a step ahead of cyber criminals and others that would try to use your information for their own gain. With so many different companies offering preventative measures to protect your personal information, it can be a very daunting task to figure out which is the best option. There are many choices for identity protection in the world today based on your needs, the cost of the product, and what the company offers by way of protection.

Your personal needs for guarding your individuality may vary depending on what you already have with companies you already use, such as your bank, credit cards, and credit report monitoring. If these needs are already covered, a company that offers just those particular services may not be of use to your individual requirements.

A company chosen to defend your private information will also differ depending on individual cost. Most companies will charge a monthly fee that will fluctuate due to the level of security you decide to utilize. Although the cost will be different from company to company, cost is not always the best determining factor. Company A may be more expensive than Company B but may not offer as much reinforcement and vice versa. Utilizing a company with the best price for the most amount of security would be a better option.

Not all companies that offer personal protection for your individuality present you with all of the options you desire for your personal and financial wellbeing. Protection comes is three forms; fraud determent, fraud detection, and fraud defense. Fraud determent is where a company acts to prevent identity theft before it happens. Fraud detection is the watchdog of sorts used to let you know of suspicious activity on your accounts. Fraud defense is the proactive measures taken once identity theft has taken place in order to rectify errors that have already occurred. Every company is different and may not encompass all three services.

Every company is different, though they all support the same cause; safeguarding you. Determine what your needs are, what your budget is, and which company fits those requirements.

By the way, by researching and comparing the different identity theft protection services in the market, you will be able to determine the one that meets your specific needing and it is reasonable priced. Nonetheless, it is advisable to check several offers before making any decision, this way you will save time through getting the right identity theft protection plan for you and money by securing the better results and the best company available in the market.

Hector Milla runs the Identity Theft Protection Service website - where you can see his best rated identity theft protection recommendation.

Visit for further information and read our full review of the best identity theft insurance firm, plus articles and video training about how to get the most of your identity theft protection program.

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What Are Some Tips When Applying For an Identity Theft Protection Service?

The rate of identity theft is highly on the increase and together with is the rise of many firms that claim to be able to protect your identity. Many of the firms claim to provide a 24/7 service and many other benefits. However, do not fall victim to fraudsters, many companies are new in the field and they will not give you the desired satisfaction due to their lack of experience. It is a wise choice to locate a reliable service provider. Do not be scammed into paying for an unreliable service. Before signing a contract with a firm make sure it offers you the following services.

• Make sure that the company is able to keep your credit cards safe. By safe monitoring of your accounts, the company should be in a position to freeze your accounts and prevent any unauthorized transaction. They should be able to keep the account in the frozen status until you can verify that the transaction is okay.

• The protection company should give you an access to a credit analyzer that lets you monitor your credit card transactions and any new opened loans. The company should have essential tools to send your virtual account warnings of intended fraud. Through the advance warnings, it has been possible to reduce the probability of being a victim of identity theft.

• A good protection company should be in a position to protect your medical records as well. This is also to prevent the theft of your medical identity, this occurs where fraudsters use your medical cover by pretending to be you. This increases your insurance payments.

• Most protection companies charge you on the average of 50 pounds annually to protect your identity from fraud. Some companies may prove to be exorbitant but make sure the service is well worth it as some may offer other added services.
As the saying goes its better to be safe than sorry therefore do not fall victim to identity theft a small pay to the right company can prevent you from loosing your entire bank account.

By the way, by researching and comparing the different identity theft protection services in the market, you will be able to determine the one that meets your specific needing and it is reasonable priced. Nonetheless, it is advisable to check several offers before making any decision, this way you will save time through getting the right identity theft protection plan for you and money by securing the better results and the best company available in the market.

Hector Milla runs the Identity Theft Protection Service website - where you can see his best rated identity theft protection recommendation.

Visit for further information and read our full review of the best identity theft insurance firm, plus articles and video training about how to get the most of your identity theft protection program.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Employee Free Choice Act - An Economic Catastrophe For US Small Business

As a CPA in practice in Southern California, I see business of all shapes, sizes, and types. I have seen firsthand the effects of globalization and our current recession on the small businesses in our area. I have seen many good businesses close their doors because they can no longer compete with overseas labor. According to the SBA Office of Advocacy data, small businesses are job creators. Their data and research shows that small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms; they create more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product; and they create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs.

To say that anything that hinders the effectiveness of American small business affects America is not an understatement. Currently, legislation is being debated in the Senate called, "The Employee Free Choice Act". Implementation of this act as currently presented would effectively eliminate the ability of small business to compete in a global labor market by favoring unionization at the small employer level. In my mind, anything that further hamstrings small business in this recession affects America at a fundamental economic level.

That's why I went with the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce this past week to lobby against this legislation in Washington D.C. There were delegations representing small business across the country, including chambers from all over California, Indiana, South Dakota, Florida, and Texas. It was a whirlwind trip of two days. It began Tuesday evening with a reception at the US Chamber of Commerce building where we briefed on the details of the bill, along with who the current supporters of the bill were. Wednesday nearly 200 hundred of us were bused to the capital where we met with our Congressmen and women and the State Senators to voice our opinions. It was a tremendous experience that I think everyone should experience once in their life.

Here's what we communicated with our legislators:

This act, if implemented as currently written, would dramatically increase the way in which union organizers can establish a union in a work place. Currently, when a group of employees indicates that they might want to unionize, the National Labor Board is brought in to hold a secret ballot election. This proposed legislation eliminates that step. Additionally, if passed, the union would be permitted to automatically form once 50% plus one of the employees is signed up.

The most disconcerting part of this process is that the sign-ups could take place in the workplace or at the employee's homes, allowing union organizers going door-to-door urging people to sign up. We communicated to our legislators that we believe that the decision to join a union or not should not be one that is made under intimidation, be it from the employer or the union! We let them know that that decision should be made secretly; in the same way we elect our government officials to represent us.

Another clause in the act would require the union and the employer to come to an agreement within 120 days. It provides that if an agreement is not reached during this time, a government official would step in and pick between the proposals of both sides. We feel that it is inappropriate for the government bureaucrats to dictate to business owners and employees their work rules, pay, and benefits.

Anything that makes American labor less efficient is almost always a bad idea. In our current economic downturn, it could be catastrophic. Union favoritism as expressed in "The Employee Free Choice Act" will force more jobs overseas, positioning American labor to be even less competitive in a difficult global market. Increasing the speed at which jobs leave America will only encourage us to create short-term solutions that do not fix long-term problems, jeopardizing the foundation that small business provides our economy.

Make your voice known today. Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and remind them about the detrimental effect this legislation will have on U.S. small businesses, the backbone of the American economy.

Copyright (c) 2009 Nick Hodges

Nick Hodges, President of NCH Wealth Advisors, provides US expatriates with the best tools, strategies and planning techniques to help expats manage their tax and financial goals and dreams on a day-to-day basis regardless of their location. To claim your free gift, ExPat Life Portfolio Kit, visit his site at =======>

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Stage Construction Injuries

Although many concert and theater stages are permanent structures that are rarely disassembled or moved, there is also a huge demand for stages that can be moved or assembled in a relatively short period of time. Outdoor music showcases, touring music shows, one-day performances, and other events often require the construction and breakdown of stages on a regular basis.

Workers who are required to assemble and move stages as a part of their duties may be put at risk of injury or death. Portable stages and other structures designed for transport often require parts that are quickly assembled and disassembled and may be held together with many pins and small connective pieces. When many easy-to-remove pieces are used to hold up a structure, there is a great risk of problems, defects, and accidents.

Common stage-construction injuries include:

• Workers injured by falling parts during construction

• Stage-collapse injuries

• Injuries sustained by falls from the structure

• Trauma caused by falls from elevated positions during construction

• Faulty materials causing pieces of the structure to fall

• Lacerations caused by jagged parts and faulty construction

• Back injuries from transporting heavy parts of the structure

Temporary structures should be placed on an even surface and should be tested before use. It is important to check the structural integrity of a stage or platform before people are allowed to walk on it or use it for a performance.

Although stage collapses may injure performers and audience members, it is usually the workers who are required to build the structure that suffer the most injuries in stage construction accidents. Workers are often put at risk due to the hazards of the building and de-construction process.

It is recommended that all stage-construction workers examine the parts and pieces thoroughly before building the platform. Any parts that exhibit excessive wear-and-tear should not be used. Any parts that are broken should be immediately replaced, and workers should never skip steps in the building process. The use of defective materials and failure to obey safety rules can result in serious injury to workers and employees.

If you have been injured in a stage construction accident, you may be eligible for worker's compensation benefits to help you as you recover from the accident. If you would like to know more about worker's compensation, visit the website of the Pennsylvania worker's compensation attorneys of Lowenthal & Abrams, P.C.

Joseph Devine

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Why You Must Have a Will For the Sake of Your Children

I have a confession to make. Until a few weeks ago, when I decided to write this article, I had not updated my will in almost ten years. I had a hundred reasons why, but none of the reasons were worth enough to pay the toll on the Garden State Parkway. They were all just poor excuses. Many people never get around to preparing their will or updating it as circumstances change. Oftentimes, the excuse we hear from our clients for not having a current will is the perceived cost in time and money to have an attorney draft one. I also believe there is a fear of confronting our individual mortality that causes many of us to put off this necessary task. Not writing your will and failing to do even the most basic estate planning can have a disastrous effect on your loved ones and their survivors.

A will is a legal declaration giving instructions as to what person(s) or organizations(s) are to receive your property after your death. This declaration names the executor or personal representative who will be responsible for settling your estate. If you die without a will you are said to die intestate and this means the state is forced to determine the rightful heirs of your estate and distribute your assets to those heirs through the state's probate process. Your will is the only way you can nominate who will be responsible for the care of your minor children. There can be no more important a decision than determining who will care for your children in the event that you and your spouse die prematurely. In the worst possible scenario, in which both you and your spouse die in a common accident, the probate court will appoint a guardian for your children, in the absence of any written will designating a guardian. This guardian may be someone you might never have permitted even as a babysitter for your children, let alone someone who now holds the future of your children in their hands. Not only will your children be recoiling from the shock of the loss of their beloved parents, but also their situation will be made even worse by having to be raised by an individual that may not share your common values and beliefs. This guardian could also be designated as the custodian, by the state, of your assets that are passed down to your children in the event of your untimely demise, further compounding the matter.

The solution is to draft a separate written will for both you and your spouse. In order for a will to be valid it should be in writing, signed by you and two witnesses in the presence of a Notary Public. To best insure that your minor children are adequately cared for upon your death the will should include the following:

1. The establishment of a custodial account or a minor trust, in which the assets of your estate are transferred for the benefit of your children

2. The designation of a custodian for the custodial account or a trustee for the minor trust

3. The designation of an appropriate guardian to care for your children

4. Designating an executor to your estate who you believe will put your children's interest first

You need to secure a competent attorney who is well versed in Estate law and the Probate process. The cost of creating a very basic will can range in price. My experience has been that attorneys typically charge anywhere from a minimum of $125 an hour and up for drafting a will. Depending on the complexity of your will it may take a few hours or more for an attorney to draft. If after reading the above you are not immediately agitated enough to pick up the phone to schedule an appointment with an attorney, while we don't recommend this as a long term solution, you can purchase one of many "Draft your own will" software programs available in the marketplace. It should take you no more than two hours to craft a very simple, standard will. Keep in mind that what you get is a basic will that may not be sufficient to protect the rights and welfare of your children or other beneficiaries. You should have two witnesses sign each of six copies of the will in the presence of one another. One copy will go into a secure place within your home, one will go into a safe deposit box at your local bank, one will go to the designated guardian, one will go to the custodian or trustee of the minor trust and one will go to the executor of your estate. The sixth copy will go to the attorney you will run to to have a proper will drafted, as soon as possible.

Tom is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Financial Planner, CLTC (Certified Long-Term Care) and President of Cerefice & Company, the largest CPA firm in Rahway, New Jersey. Tom works with clients helping them manage their money, retirement planning, college savings, life insurance needs, IRAs and qualified plan rollovers with an eye towards maximizing tax benefits and minimizing taxes. Tom is founder of the Rich Habits Institute and author of "Rich Habits".

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