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Below are collections of articles and blog posts we have written that provide valuable information on various legal topics such as immigration, marriage, business practices and more. Follow us to receive notifications when new articles or blog posts are released.

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So You're Filing An Immigration Application - What's Next?
March 17, 2015

Let's assume you are ready to file an application or petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). What can you do to ensure that CIS approves your application?

  • Consider contacting a licensed attorney that practices immigration law. Using an attorney gives you security that you have used the correct form, that the application is complete, is in proper order and is being sent to the correct CIS office, and that CIS can contact the attorney if there is a problem. An attorney can also save you lots of time dealing with CIS and the application process.
  • Double check the form instructions to make sure you have included all required documentation and fully completed the application. Check www.immigration.gov to make sure you have the most recent forms and the correct fee amount.
  • Double check your responses on the form. Make sure you have answered all applicable sections.
  • Make a copy of your complete application.
  • Prepare a cover letter listing your enclosures.
  • Note that CIS likes you to indicate page numbers on your documents for certain forms.
  • Check the form instructions or www.immigration.gov for the order of the enclosures.
  • Send it via overnight delivery or certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested. That way, you have evidence of delivery.
  • Complete and include form G-1145 if you would like an email indicating USCIS received your package.
Immigration Lesson: What is an Affidavit of Support
April 18, 2014

For typical family-based immigrants attempting to obtain a green card, the petitioning relative must sign a form I-864 Affidavit of Support. By signing this Affidavit, the petitioner is agreeing with the U.S. Government that if the immigrant obtains federal governmental benefits, the government has the right to seek reimbursement from the petitioner. Note that this is only with regard to federal governmental benefits for the immigrant only, and does not include any state benefits. It also does not include any benefits received by the immigrant's family members. This agreement is in effect for the shorter period of (1) the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, (2) the immigrant dies, (3) the immigrant works 40 quarters (which would be 10 years straight employment), (4) the immigrant permanently leaves the U.S., or (5) the immigrant receives a green card based on a new Affidavit of Support. Note that divorce does not terminate the petitioner's obligations under the Affidavit of Support.

YOU WANT TO HIRE A FOREIGN NATIONAL IN AN H-1B SPECIALTY OCCUPATION?
February 25, 2014

Many employers desire to hire foreign nationals in specialty occupations, but because visas for those workers are limited, many employers are unable to do so. Timing is critical to be able to obtain H-1B visas for qualified workers. The annual allocation of 85,000 H-1B visas starts on April 1 of each year. Last year the general H-1B visas (not cap-exempt) were oversubscribed in the first week of April. So it is imperative to file on April 1, or as soon as possible thereafter, to have a chance at an approved H-1B visa.

Individual Landowner Ends up in the Dog House
February 14, 2014

In a recent Tennessee Court of Appeals decision, the Court pierced the corporate veil and affirmed an award of damages, including punitive damages, against the corporation's sole shareholder. In Dog House Investments, LLC v. Teal Properties, Inc., et al., Defendant corporation was the Lessor of real property owned by Lessor's sole shareholder to the Plaintiff dog "camp." After the property was damaged in the 2011 Nashville flood, Lessor's sole shareholder refused to fix the building (as was required by the Lease) and pocketed the insurance proceeds that were supposed to be used for such repairs. Defendant corporation apparently had no assets, no purpose, and no operations other than to collect rent and distribute it to its sole shareholder.

Immigration: Prosecutorial Discretion on the Rise in Some Immigration
January 28, 2014

According to the recent Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse Report, Prosecutorial Discretion is on the rise in some immigration courts. Prosecutorial Discretion occurs in removal (deportation) cases when the Assistant Chief Counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, or the Prosecutor) agrees to close a case prior to a decision by an Immigration Judge on whether to remove an immigrant. The Prosecutorial Discretion program began in October 2011 in an effort to reduce backlog. Prosecutorial Discretion is used primarily to allow low-priority cases to be dismissed so the Prosecutor can focus on prosecuting high-priority cases, e.g. when the immigrant has been convicted of a violent crime. The report indicates an overall 80% increase in the number of cases closed using Prosecutorial Discretion from fiscal years 2012 to 2013.

WHY BECOME A U.S. CITIZEN? FEDERAL BENEFIT PROGRAMS LIMIT ELIGIBILITY
September 17, 2013

Every year the U.S celebrates Citizenship Day on September 17th. In honor of Citizenship Day, we would like to point out some public benefits available to citizens that may be limited or unavailable to noncitizens. This list addresses larger federal programs, but is not exhaustive of all benefits available to citizens.

WATCH WHAT YOU SIGN IN TENNESSEE! RECENT CASE HOLDS INDIVIDUAL LIABLE
April 16, 2013

Those who sign in a representative capacity on behalf of a corporation or other entity need to take note of the holding in Reginald M. Mudd et al v. Rexford L. Goostree, Jr. et al, Tennessee Court of Appeals Case No. M2012-00957-COA-R3-CV, decided April 5, 2013. In a suit to recover rent due and owing under a lease agreement in which a corporation was named as a tenant, the Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed judgment in favor of a landlord against an individual who had signed a lease in the space of the signature box designated "Tenant." Even though the corporation was named as Tenant in the lease, at the signature box, Mr. Goostree signed as follows: Tenant: REX GOOSTREE, JR. by Rex Goostree, Jr. (italics where handwritten). The Court held that this was "a clear and unambiguous designation of [Mr. Goostree] as the Tenant on the lease agreement." The Court decided not to entertain other evidence of the parties' intent, indicating that "only if a contract is ambiguous does a Court look beyond the four corners of the document and consider evidence of the parties' intentions." Not only is Mr. Goostree liable for the lease and late fees, but also for the Landlord's attorneys' fees at trial and on appeal.

Tax Court Upholds Use of Gift Tax Annual Exclusion
November 12, 2012

Recently, the Tax Court held that gifts of limited partnership interests made by a decedent during his life were gifts of present interests that qualified for the annual exclusion, currently $13,000.00 per person per donee. Estate of George H. Wimmer, TC Memo 2012-157. Internal Revenue Code Section 2503(b) provides that the first $13,000.00 of gifts made to any person are free of gift tax if they are not gifts of future interest in property. Under regulations, a present interest is an unrestricted right to immediate use, possession, or enjoyment of property or the income from property. Treas. Reg. § 25.2503-3(b).

COURT HOLDS EXECUTOR PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR FAILING TO HONOR IRS LEVY
November 7, 2012

A federal District Court in New York recently determined that an executor of an estate was personally liable for an IRS levy when he distributed funds to a beneficiary after being notified of the levy. U.S. v. Michel, (2012 D.C.N.Y.) 110 AFTR 2d 2012-5117. Liability attached even though the executor's attorney advised him that the levy had been satisfied. The court determined that the attorney was not a necessary party in order to determine whether the IRS could prevail against the executor. The court determined that even if the executor had acted in good faith, the absence of intentional or negligent conduct was not relevant to his liability under Internal Revenue Code Section 6332 for failing to satisfy the levy.

Grant Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C., serves clients in Tennessee cities such as Chattanooga, Cleveland, East Ridge, Red Bank, Jasper, Collegedale, Athens, Decatur, Altamont, McMinnville, Manchester, Dunlap, Winchester, Fayetteville, Soddy-Daisy, Etowah, Dayton, Charleston, Tullahoma, Fort Oglethorpe, Dalton, Chatsworth, Calhoun, Summerville, Lafayette, Ringgold, Chattanooga Valley, Chickamauga, Tunnel Hill and Trenton.

Counties: Hamilton County, Bradley County, McMinn County, Sequatchie County, Grundy County, Franklin County, Coffee County, Warren County, Dade County, Catoosa County.

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