social issues

Headshot of John Kerry with the U.S. flag in t...

Image via Wikipedia

Senators Dick Luger and John Kerry introduced today a new piece of legislation entitled “The Startup Visa Act of 2010.” This visa would permit immigrant entrepreneurs to stay or immigrate into the  United States if they have secured “significant” funds to start a new company. The goal of the act is to bring new jobs, opportunity and investment to the US.

To make the visa available, a new EB-6 category would be created. This new visa category would draw from visas under the existing EB-5 category.

One potential sticking point for many budding entrepreneurs is the proposed legislation’s definition of “significant” funds. The bill requires investment capital available from a sponsoring US venture capital or angel investor of at least $100,000 in an equity financing of not less than $250,000. If after 2 years the immigrant entrepreneur can show that he or she has generated at least 5 full time jobs or attracted at least $1 million in additional capital or revenue, then he or she would achieve legal status.

Clearly, this bill is aimed at attracting startup immigrant all-stars. Perhaps the young entrepreneur from Russia who started Chatroulette would qualify.  It will also help young entrepreneurs with great ideas who have recently graduated from college who have  obtained venture funding.

Most immigrant entrepreneurs who contact my office have great ideas but only limited access to capital.   I field a few calls a week from potential immigrant entrepreneurs who have amazing business plans which would be inexpensive to implement, but would fall short of the capital requirements.  I am not sure Bill Gates would qualify for a visa under the Startup Visa Act of 2010 if he hailed from Bangalore when he started Microsoft.

Nevertheless, this proposed law is  a step in the right direction and I support the bill.

Full Text of Proposed Legislation of The Startup Visa Act

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

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?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

There is a growing trend for companies to store information at a remote location, or a “cloud.” Whether you are using Google Docs or have remote servers physically located elsewhere, if you are collaborating with other people and information is not stored on your hard drive, you are probably “cloud computing.”

So who is effected by the move to Cloud Computing?  The move could impact companies such as software companies, internet service providers and hardware manufacturers. Companies in each of these industries will face a big change if more people turn to cloud computing to store their data.

Cloud computing is a terrific alternative for companies who have people working together on a project at different locations.  Because the costs are relatively low, cloud computing makes it easier to conduct business.  However if your business is engaged in posting user information online, you should be mindful of privacy and litigation issues.

Be aware of the types of documents that you post in the cloud and how it can be used by others. Businesses should be especially concerned about posting:

  • Business presentations
  • Employee work and health information
  • Tax and accounting records
  • Schedules and Calendars
  • Contracts
  • Trade Secrets
  • Confidential Consumer Information

If your company becomes involved in a litigation, your opposing counsel may ask your cloud hosting provider for access to company records. A business engaged in cloud computing must know that privacy laws vary depending on the physical location of your provider.

The liability and responsibility for any breach of privacy claims is something that a business needs to protect itself against. Companies can limit liability by having a properly drafted document retention policy.

For more reading about legal issues in cloud computing for lawyers, read Niki Black’s article in the Lawyerist.

If you have any questions regarding cloud computing, litigation and privacy law, contact me at the Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at 212-233-0666.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Your employees are probably participating in social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. But what are your workers doing on Facebook while on the clock? Are they networking or are they sharing their 5 favorite beers? On the one hand, you want to trust your employees and make them feel like they have autonomy to perform their work duties. On the other hand, you are paying them to work and you want them to present themselves professionally.

Recently, staffers of The Wall Street Journal were provided a compiled list of rules for “professional conduct” which regulates online behavior. Should your company follow the lead of the Wall Street Journal and draft a written social networking policy advising what your employees can post while working at the office? If you would like to limit potential company liability to lawsuits, the answer is yes. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. A written social networking policy may shield your Company from defamation lawsuits. What happens if your employee starts posting on Facebook untrue statements about a competitor? Without a written social networking policy, your Company could be sued for defamation.

2. Potential disclosure of Company proprietary information. Let’s say that your business has created the next killer app that will be ready to launch in 3 months. By having a non-disclosure section written into your social networking policy, your employee would be on notice and could be held liable for posting on LinkedIn such information.

3. Your business’s social networking use policy should encourage positive and constructive use of the social networking sites, as well as to prevent the use of such sites for personal or inappropriate reasons. You could be held liable for anything that your employees say of a personal nature on social networking sites.

4. Potential use in litigation. Information disseminated by your employees on social networking sites can be uncovered by a potential adversary and used against your company in litigation. Therefore, you should be clear about the type of topics that can be discussed on social networking sites.

5. Intellectual Property. Trademark and Copyright laws extend to what your post on social networking sites. Your social networking policy should make clear that your employees should refrain from posting trademarked or copyrighted material while representing the company.
So, your Company should regulate social networking use in a more expanded way than the way you regulate other Internet use. By being upfront about the potential problems of social networking, you could help both you and your employees successfully utilize this tool and avoid unwanted lawsuits.

Further Resource:

Online database of social networking policies.

Contact the Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at 212-233-0666 for more information about social networking policies.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]