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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.

Immigrant Provisional Waivers--Not Living Up to Expectations
April 15, 2014

Last year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") announced the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver ("Provisional Waiver") in hopes of common sense reform that would assist families to stay together. Traditionally, when a relative of an immigrant who entered without inspection filed an immigration petition on his or her behalf, the immigrant would leave the country for the immigrant visa interview, be denied due to inadmissibility, and then file for waiver of the inadmissibility bar outside the U.S. With the traditional waiver, immigrants were left outside the U.S. in a sort of purgatory while waiting on a decision from USCIS.

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.

Chattanooga must pay woman $71K for attorney fees in public records lawsuit
February 20, 2014

A Tennessee appeals court last week sent a strong message in a public records lawsuit against the city of Chattanooga, ordering the trial court to award the full $71,343 in attorney fees and expenses incurred by the citizen who brought the case.

It was the second time an appeals court overruled the Hamilton County judge in the case.

The first time, the Hamilton County judge had found the city had not "acted in bad faith as a result of its slowness in producing the public records requested" and denied the request of Rebecca Little to pay her attorney fees. But the appeals court disagreed, saying the city of Chattanooga "knew it was obligated to produce and willfully did not." It remanded the case back to the trial court and ordered the judge to determine the amount of attorney's fees to be awarded.

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.

IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam Targeted Towards Immigrants
January 30, 2014

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a warning to consumers, especially immigrants, about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country.

Victims are told by the scammer that they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

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.

Recent Decision Limits Scope of Open Records Act
January 7, 2014

Public records and the debate over obtaining access to public records took a potentially drastic turn on October 29, 2013 when the Tennessee Court of Appeals carved out a "deliberative process" exception to the Tennessee Open Records Act codified at T.C.A. § 10-7-101. InDavidson v. Bredesen, et al, No. M2012-02374-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 5872286 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2013), the Court ruled that "high government officials" can keep documents secret if they deem them part of their deliberative decision making process. The Court upheld a lower court's ruling that then-Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration was justified in denying the release of records on the basis that they were part of the "deliberative process" about how to deal with demonstrators encamped in the state Capitol in 2005 to protest cuts to TennCare, the state's expanded Medicaid program. The Court found that the deliberative process privilege is a common law privilege and that there is a "valid need" that the advice high governmental officials receive should be protected from disclosure. The Court further identified high governmental officials as "those vested with the responsibility of developing and implementing law and public policy, many times requiring that differing and various interests and viewpoints be considered."


NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS FOR EMPLOYERS WORTH KEEPING
December 17, 2013

As the New Year approaches, many of us will resolve to change our lives, drop bad habits, form new good habits, and generally start 2014 fresh, with a new sense of purpose. Too often, however, these resolutions are short-lived. Just compare the parking lot at your local gym in January to the same parking lot 4 weeks later to see a stark example of fading resolve. Truth is, promises are easier to make than to keep, even to ourselves.

Cody M. Roebuck
Author:
Can an Olive Branch Become a Weapon?
November 27, 2013

Although it is always advisable to seek an attorney's advice when litigation appears imminent, perhaps you would like to avoid litigation altogether by settling a case quickly before the attorneys get involved. You're hesitant, however, to initiate any conversation regarding an out-of-court settlement, fearing that an offer to settle would be tantamount to either admitting liability on the one hand, or, on the other, admitting that your claim is invalid or worth very little. This fear is certainly reasonable, as you might have any number of reasons for settling a dispute that have nothing to do with your belief as to your liability regarding a dispute, such as avoiding the emotional, social, and other consequences of litigation.

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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