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Resolution for 2011 – Check Your Immigration Documents!

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With 2011 coming up, make sure to check all documents related to your immigration status.  Double check any documents with expiration dates and if needed, develop a way to remember the expiration dates for yourself (and family, if need be).  It is a way to remember when to file for any immigration renewals or extensions. 

Begin 2011 by being prepared!

Written by Immigration and Employment Law Attorney

December 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Family Law

Great Success – Client Becomes a Naturalized Citizen!

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Nothing makes me happier than making a client happy.  In this type of job (or any job for that matter), it can be hard to keep clients happy and satisfied with your work. 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a naturalization interview with a client.  Although the Client was prepared ahead of time about what to expect, it was understandable that the Client was nervous.  After all, it isn’t just any interview…it is an interview to become naturalized! 

After waiting a few minutes, the Client was called upon to complete the English and Civic tests.  The Client had studied and prepared for weeks.  Sure enough, Client passed both the English and Civic tests with flying colors.

Next came the interview with the officer.  Again, Client answered any questions asked and Client was able to pass the interview with no problems.  At the end of the interview, the officer told the Client that Client was going to attend the oath ceremony the following week.  

In the end, Client was happy. The Client really wanted to become a naturalized citizen and he worked very hard to make sure he could become one.  Through our help at the law office, he was able to successfully reach his personal goal.  And for that, I am happy.

Written by Immigration and Employment Law Attorney

December 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Posted in Immigration

Facebook – Employment and Family Law Issues

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Today’s blog is dedicated to Facebook.  What?!  What does Facebook have anything to do with Employment Law or Family Law?

Actually, alot. 

In a time where we can connect to each other through the simple click of a computer, it is no wonder why millions of people use social networking websites to connect to one another.   The idea of clicking on someone’s page and looking at the details of that person’s life – everything from relationship status, employment status, photos, etc. – is a seductive idea. 

If I wanted to, I could simply type up a name, look at that person’s page and from the comfort of my home, read everything I wanted to know about that person.  Now imagine, if I can do that, who else can do it?  

Well…anyone else could.

Almost every other day in the news, I come across an article about someone who got terminated from their job because of a Facebook posting.   A couple of examples include:

  • Employee who posted a status comparing her old job vs. the aspects of her new job.  When her prospective employer got wind of the posting, the offer was rescinded.
  • A teacher who posted some of her frustrations about teaching on Facebook.  After students and parents saw her status and complained to the school district, the teacher resigned. 
  • Waitress who posted a status about lack of tips.  She lost her job because she violated her company’s policy aganist speaking disaparagingly about customers. 

The same is true for stories about people divorcing because of Facebook.  A couple of examples include:

  • Facebook postings showing a new boyfriend/girlfriend (proving infidelity);
  • Photos of newly acquired property (maybe a big purchase while you are in the middle of your divorce when you aren’t supposed to);
  • “Trash talking” about your spouse , judge or attorneys; and
  • Games – Because games such as Farmville post onto your Wall, it is very easy to see what you are playing, how long you are playing, etc.  (evidence used to show the court that you are more preoccupied with gaming than your children).

All strange, but true.  As for divorces, I have been personally invovled in a case where Opposing Counsel obtained my client’s information through Facebook and attempted to use this information in court.  Believe me, if it can happen to my client, then it can happen to you. 

A growing number of people are finding out the hard way that what you say on a social network site can be used aganist you – whether its related to your employment  or family life. 

So just be careful about what you say and what you post.  Remember, anything that you say (or in this case, post) can and will be used aganist you.

Written by Immigration and Employment Law Attorney

December 4, 2010 at 4:22 am

Posted in Employment, Family Law

What is Workplace Retaliation?

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Most employees know that there are laws that exist to protect them from different types of discrimination and harrassment in the workplace.  However, many do not know that these same laws protect employees from retaliation. 

Retaliation can come in different forms.  It doesn’t just mean termination or a demotion.  Retaliation can include  negative actions such as being denied a raise or missing out on training opportunities.  Other examples include:

  • Discipline;
  • Salary reduction;
  • Job or shift reassignment.

What does that mean for an employee?  That means that employers cannot punish an employee for making a discrimination and/or harrassment complaints.   As long as the employer’s adverse action would deter a reasonable person from making a complaint, the action constitutes illegal retaliation. 

What should you do if you suspect retaliation?  You need to speak to Human Resources or your supervisor to see if they will correct the issue.  If your employer does not correct the problem, you may have to take your concerns to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or if you live in Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission. 

To learn more about retaliation and your rights in the workplace, contact Coane and Associates at (713) 850-0066.

Written by Immigration and Employment Law Attorney

November 27, 2010 at 2:15 am

Posted in Employment

What Discriminatory Practices Are Prohibited by Laws?

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Under Title VII, the ADA, GINA, and the ADEA, it is illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment, including:

  • hiring and firing;
  • compensation, assignment, or classification of employees;
  • transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall;
  • job advertisements;
  • recruitment;
  • testing;
  • use of company facilities;
  • training and apprenticeship programs;
  • fringe benefits;
  • pay, retirement plans, and disability leave; or
  • other terms and conditions of employment.

Discriminatory practices under these laws also include:

  • harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age;
  • retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices;
  • employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities, or based on myths or assumptions about an individual’s genetic information; and
  • denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.

Employers are required to post notices to all employees advising them of their rights under the laws EEOC enforces and their right to be free from retaliation. Such notices must be accessible, as needed, to persons with visual or other disabilities that affect reading.

In addition, Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

If you think you have been discriminated aganist, you must act quickly!  There are strict time limits within which charges must be filed.   Contact an experienced employment law attorney who can help you win your case.  

For additional information on employment law issues, contact Coane & Associates at 713-850-0066.

Written by Immigration and Employment Law Attorney

November 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Employment

USCIS New Fee Schedule Goes Into Effect November 23, 2010

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The new fee schedule for USCIS goes into effect on November 23, 2010.  Applications or petitions postmarked or otherwise filed on or after November 23, 2010 must include the new fee or the application or petition will be rejected!

Written by Immigration and Employment Law Attorney

October 31, 2010 at 11:43 am

Posted in Immigration

Affidavit of Support (I-864) – What Is It?

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One of the most frequently asked questions I come across deals with the Affidavit of Support.  In today’s blog, I hope to provide context to what the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) is and why it is important. 

All green card applicants who are petitioned by a family member must submit an Affidavit of Support (also known as I-864).   Basically, the form’s purpose is to show that those who are being petitioned for will not become a “public charge.” 

The family member who petitioned for you must be your sponsor and submit the affidavit for you that lists your sponsor’s income.  This income must be at least 125% of the poverty level based on your sponsor’s household size (including their own family and as well as all the people applying for the green card.)

In addition, the Form I-864 requires the tax return for the most recent tax year.   Since the I-864’s purpose is to determine whether the prospective green card holder has sufficent financial support, the sponsor may still choose to submit the three most recent tax returns (i.e. 2009, 2008 and 2007).    If the Sponsor’s most recent income tax return is “borderline” of being sufficent (i.e. 125% of the poverty level), I suggest providing USCIS with additional tax returns (showing the past years with greater income).

If the family member who petitioned for you does not have sufficient income to sponsor, then a different person (who must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident) may also be a sponsor.  This person will be the “joint sponsor.”  The joint sponsor must also complete an Affidavit of Support as well.  

It is very important to understand that the affidavit of support is entirely enforeable.  This means that the sponsor may be responsible to repay certain public benefits.  Remember, the affidavit of support is a legally binding document and could be enforced aganist a sponsor if the situation arises. 

In conclusion, if the Form I-864 sounds confusing, do not be alarmed.  Over the years, the I-864 has become easier to complete and it is self-explanatory.  Remember to have your most recent income tax documents available to you while you are completing the I-184. 

If there are some financial issues you have that you believe may be problematic in your case, then you should contact an experienced immigration attorney who may be able to review any financial issues you may have.

Written by Immigration and Employment Law Attorney

October 10, 2010 at 2:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized