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On April 1, 2010 The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will accept new H-1B visa applications for Fiscal Year 2011 (for work which starts on October 1, 2010).  Now is the time to review your files to see whether you are in need of any H-1B visas for your workers.

You should be on the lookout for any interns from colleges working for you or anyone else who has a  J-1, E-1, E-2 or O-1, to H-1B visa. Be aware that the paperwork to file H-1B visa preparation is  more lengthy than ever.  This is because the Department of Labor is requiring a Federal Tax ID verification process.

What is an H-1B visa?

H-1B visas are granted by the immigration service (USCIS) to foreign nationals that are individuals who are offered a position in a specialty occupation.

What is a Specialty Occupation?

A specialized occupation is one in which require a high level of specialized knowledge.  The Immigration Service generally mandates that the job offered to would required at least the equivalent of a 4-year US Bachelor’s degree.

Employer Requirements:

  • The job offer must be in a specialty occupation
  • The job offered for the visa must meet Department of Labor criteria for wages
  • The company, not the employee submits the immigration visa application
  • No US Citizen is available for the job

Advertising Requirements:

  • The employer is required to advertise the position offered in the United States before petitioning to employ H-1B workers for those positions

H-B Limits:

  • Only 65,000 of the immigration visa applications are issued every year
  • Non-profits visa applications are exempt from the cap

Because the H-1B Visas are limited each year and often exhausted on the first day of filing, it is important to start the application process now.

Call the The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson if you have a question about immigration at 212-233-0666 or visit my website.

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Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
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What privacy rights do you have on social networks? Nearly everyday, civil litigators like myself and law enforcement officials request information from Facebook regarding user information.  Understandably, Facebook has been very difficult in responding to such requests, believing that users have a right to privacy concerning its users information. But how much right should users of social networks have over information that is of public record?

Many social networking sites have taken the position that they will not respond to requests for information without a subpoena.  This is a problem because users cannot obtain access to their accounts even if their account has been hacked.

This is especially problematic when it comes to the problem of cyber bullying. I have been trying to obtain records from Facebook for a client whose child whose account has been hacked by a cyber bully.  Facebook has been unwilling to provide information to me about my clients own account.

According to, the Deputy General Counsel of Facebook, Mark Howitson told lawyers at the Legal Tech Conference in New York today that they are ready to fight requests for user  information without a subpoena.

Unfortunately, you can only serve that subpoena in California which is problematic if you live in New York. Even with a subpoena, they will only provide basic subscriber information unless that user gives his or her consent.  The company believes that it does not have to provide user information under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which was passed before Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, danced to his first disco tune at his bar mitzvah. Since this issue is relatively new, a congressional hearing is forthcoming.

Mr. Howiston suggests that the best way to obtain information from Facebook is to make a simple friend request, which is of little utility.

What do you think?  What right of privacy should you have on social networks?  Should there be a cyber bullying exception?

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2009 Toyota Corolla photographed in Washington...
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The Wall Street Journal reports that another wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Toyota claiming sudden acceleration as the cause.  A young mother of two children died when her Toyota Corolla sped through a stop sign in Houston and crashed into a wall.

As a result of the crash, the mothers husband,  Michael Harris, filed a against Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., gas pedal maker CTS Corp. and the company that leased the vehicle.  It is  likely that this is the third such case filed in response to acceleration problems on Toyota vehicles.

Toyota issued a voluntary recall related to floor mats and the accelerators in some 3.8 million vehicles in November. Last month it recalled 2.3 million cars, including many 2009 Carollas, to fix a mechanical problem with the accelerators.

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Calvin Chin, an American entrepreneur in China, wrote an insightful guest post in Techcrunch about startup culture in China.  He recently attended the World Economic Summit in Davos, so you know that he has his ear to the ground on what’s going on in the largest country in the world.

Calvin Chin believes that the Chinese government has placed a premium on stability with the goal of lifting millions out of poverty at the expense of freedom of information.  This emphasis on stability, with power in the hands of the few, allows for big decisions to made quickly and without opposition.

Many of our world business leaders are also placing a premium on government stability. Thomas L. Friedman, the op-ed columnist to the New York Times, noted that at Davos many are questioning the stability of the American government. With the Republicans unwilling to pass legislation in Congress and the Democrats running to the hills, the American political system is deadlocked. With the economy in crisis, and perhaps a Marshall Plan needed, many question the economic future of America.

Many successful tech startups in China understand that the stability of their government is paramount for economic growth, even if their freedom to operate is limited. Nimble startups are able to navigate by having a keen awareness of any political or market changes.

Because Chinese startups are obviously located in China, they are unable to pack up and leave simply because the law changes or if their computers have been hacked like Google.They simply adjust. When the government decides to censure microblogging sites, startups use the existing infrastructure to to set up a microblogging site that screen Tweets.

Other successful startups in China follow these models:

  • Localize an international hit and making it cheaper and better. Chin cites Kuukie which basically rips off  Moo in the custom business card business.  Look for a Chinese startup to localize hot US startups like Foursquare.
  • Look for a fit for Chinese net culture with a product that you don’t see elsewhere.

Founders of startups are still able to circumvent the censors and obtain information by using web clients.  The system makes it difficult for big companies to compete locally.

Washington must learn from China and remove the clouds of uncertainty that plague our political system.  American startups and small business are unable to take action unless they know the cost of health care.  Without action now, look for more startups from Mao Inc. at the expense of Silicon Alley.

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Seal of the Internal Revenue Service
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2010 tax year brings several changes to small business tax law.  I know, the thought of taxes isn’t a pleasant topic to think about, unless you are an accountant. However, a look now at the tax position of your company can help you assess how your business can benefit and comply with the amendments to the tax code.

Listed below are 6 amendments to the 2010 tax laws that could have an impact on your small business. This list is subject to change, especially since President Obama outlined in his State of the Union address that there will be more aid for small businesses.

  1. Reduced Mileage Rates. The mileage rate that businesses can use to deduct for automobiles has been lowered.
  2. Home Based Businesses and the First time owner tax credit. If you run your business out of your home and plan to purchase a home for the first time, there is a $8,000 tax credit. Be aware that you need to purchase your home by April 30, 2010.
  3. Cancellation of some Business Debt. The rules are a bit complicated, but certain businesses can decide to delay recognition of income from the cancellation of business debt in both 2009 and 2010.
  4. Domestic Production Activities Deduction. “Domestic production” applies to a restricted group of businesses including architectural, construction, engineering or a few other companies. In 2010 this deduction is upped to nine percent of qualifying business net income.
  5. Tax Credit for Research and Development. This tax credit was set to end in 2009. The House of Representatives has voted to extend the credit, however the Senate has yet to vote on it.
  6. Depreciation and Section 179 Expenses. Small Business had been able to deduct up to $250,000 of the cost of machinery, equipment, vehicles, furniture and other such propertused during 2009. In 2010, this limit is due to drop to $135,000.

These are just a few of the changes.  For more see, Tax Changes for Business by the IRS or contact my office at 212-233-0666 if you are in New York State.

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Clorox looks to Hire an In-House Social Media Attorney

January 26, 2010

According to AdAge, Clorox is seeking a full-time in-house legal counsel who will focus on social media. Clorox is looking for a lawyer who would help them avoid legal issues,  such as when Toyota and its ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi  improperly used photographs without permission in a social media campaign. Of course, they could […]

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New York Venture Capital Stages a Small Recovery

January 25, 2010

Crain’s New York Business reports that venture funding for New York startups was up about 1 percent in the 4th quarter. However, only 66 companies received funding, as opposed to 86 the year before. Venture funding in New York area is concentrated in three industries: Biotech Medical Devices and Equipment Software Investors appear to be […]

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Access to Your Archived Tweets

January 22, 2010

If you are a heavy user of Twitter, nothing is worse than trying to find an important link that is buried in your feed. Check out Twitter Archives.  If you think the interface to the Google homepage is stark, wait till you take a look at Twitter Archives. One big problem with the site is […]

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Bloomberg’s State of the City Speech Contains Only a Few Pledges of Help for NYC Small Businesses

January 21, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg outlined his agenda for helping NYC small businesses in his State of the City speech on Wednesday January 19, 2010.  Unfortunately, it looks like there are only three. He promised to steamline the City’s application process for restaurants and bars; Expand a job program to help immigrants; Help Haitians to apply for temporary […]

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What can Companies do to Protect their IP and Data from a Google-like Cyber Attack?

January 21, 2010

Protecting intellectual property from a cyber attack is something that all companies need to be concerned about. Google recently released information about a targeted attack on their intellectual property and data that occurred in December, 2009. The attack came from China and according to Google, resulted in the “theft of intellectual property from Google.” Apparently they were […]

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