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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing today for all H-1B visa extension of stay petitions. Premium processing is now available for all types of H-1B petitions. H-1B visas provide skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations, including information technology, engineering, and mathematics. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. If that time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application. In addition to today’s resumption of premium processing for H-1B visa extension of stay petitions, USCIS had previously resumed ...

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Employers with 25 or more employees must now start paying minimum wages at the rate of $12.00 per hour starting July 1, 2017. This also means that overtime exempt employees must also be paid fixed salaries of at least two times the applicable minimum wage rate for full-time employment (2 X $12.00 X 40 = $960.00 per week or $960.00 X 52 weeks = $49,920.00 per year). Exempt employees who are paid less than this formula will be entitled to overtime pay and other benefits limited to non-exempt workers.

Employers with less than 25 employees will be required to pay the $12.00 minimum wage rate starting next year on July 1, 2018.

The minimum wage for workers in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County have started to increase early beginn...

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Beware of Becoming Enslaved by a Severance Agreement!

Many hardworking employees who dedicate their lives and sacrifice their own health and family for the good of their corporate employers will sooner or later find a pink slip in their inbox, usually right before the holidays. Whether it's due to "downsizing" or for whatever pretextual reason the employer can think of to justify their non-disriminatory reason for their termination of employment, getting fired hurts. Getting fired creates immediate fear, especially for those living paycheck to paycheck and have a family to support. Employers try to soften the blow by offering a severance package consisting of a severance check, usually calculated at one week of pay per year of service, a...

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Buy Your Way Into the USA!

By Thomas M Lee

The Entrepreneur Parole Rule Lets Foreigners Buy their Way Into the USA Starting July 17, 2017

The US Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") has finalized new regulations creating the Entrpreneur Parole Rule, which takes effect on July 17, 2017. The DHS believes that this final rule will encourage foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the United States, which are expected to facilitate research and development in the country, create jobs for U.S. workers, and otherwise benefit the U.S. economy through increased business activity, innovation, and dynamism. Particularly in light of the complex considerations involved in entrepreneur-based parole requests, the DHS also believes that t...

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Give me a break!!

By Thomas M Lee

The California Supreme Court recently held that employees cannot be "on-call" or "on-duty" during their rest breaks

On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers may not require their employees to remain "on duty" or "on call" during rest breaks. In Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., the plaintiffs were required to keep their pagers and radio phones on during rest breaks and to remain vigilant and responsive to calls whenever the need arose. The employer-defendant argued that the guards were simply required to keep their pagers and radio phones on in case an incident required a response and that most of the time the breaks were uninterrupted. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Under the law, an employee who is...

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USCIS FILING FEES SET TO INCREASE ON 12/23/2016

Just in time for the holidays, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") has recently announced an increase in the filing fees for almost all of its applications. In particular, applications concerning the "million dollar investment greencard" face filing fee increases in the thousands of dollars.

Further, certain low-income naturalization applicants may pay a filing fee of $320 plus the $85 biometric services fee. For eligibility details and filing instructions, see Form I-942, Request for Reduced Fee andForm N-400, Application for Naturalization.

The USCIS is almost entirely funded by application and petition fees. The fee schedule was last adjusted in November 2010....

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The End of DACA is Near!

By Thomas M Lee

President-elect Trump Will Likely Retroactively Cancel DACA!

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.

Further, DACA recipients can apply for a travel permit if the travel abroad will be in furtherance of:

  • humanitarian purposes, including travel to obtain medical treatment, attending funeral services for a family member, or visiting an ailing relative;
  • educational purposes, such as semester-abroad programs and academic research, or;
  • employment purposes such as overseas assignments, interviews, conferences or, training, or meetings with clients overseas.

More importantly, when a DACA recipient returns from their trip abroad and are admitted back into the U...

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New 2017 CA Employment Laws

By Thomas M Lee

Get Ready for the new 2017 California Employment Laws!

Governor Brown has just signed several important measures that bring new changes to California's employment laws, most of which will take effect on January 1, 2017. Here are some of the highlights:

1) Increased Paid Family Leave and State Disability Benefits:

Effective January 1, 2018, state Paid Family Leave (PFL) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) wage-replacement benefits will increase to 60 or 70 percent of a participant’s wages (from the current level of 55 percent), depending on income level and up to the statutory cap. In addition, the current seven-day waiting period for PFL benefits will be eliminated as of January 1, 2018. PFL benefits, which are wholly f...

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6 Sick Days for employees in Los Angeles city starting 7/1/2016

Starting July 1, 2016, most employees within Los Angeles city will be entitled to accrue six sick days (48 hours) of paid sick leave per year.

California state law already provides that employer must provide three days (24 hours) of paid sick leave per year. However, this does not supersede local ordinances, and employers must comply with both the state and the local laws, whichever is more favorable to employees. Since the L.A. ordinanceis more favorable, employers within the city of Los Angeles must starting providing 48 hours of paid sick leave to their employees starting July 1, 2016.

Unlike state law, which contains exceptions for certain employees, such as he...

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