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USCIS Completes Lottery for Temporary Increase in FY 2018 H-2B Cap
Headline News | 2018/06/17 00:54
On May 31, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began receiving H-2B petitions under the temporary final rule increasing the numerical limit, or cap, on H-2B nonimmigrant visas by up to 15,000 additional visas through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2018.

In the first five business days of filing, USCIS received petitions for more beneficiaries than the number of H-2B visas available under the FY 2018 supplemental cap. Accordingly, regulations required USCIS to use a computer-generated selection process, commonly known as a lottery, to randomly select enough petitions to meet, but not exceed, the increased H-2B cap for FY 2018. USCIS ran this lottery on June 7, 2018, and on June 11, 2018, began issuing notifications to the petitioners that were selected.  

USCIS will reject and return unselected petitions with their filing fees, as well as any cap-subject petitions received after June 6, 2018.

Petitions accepted for processing will have a receipt date of June 11, 2018. Premium processing service for these petitions begins on that receipt date.

Only employers whose petitions were accepted will receive receipt notices.



USCIS Efforts Lead to Prison Sentence for Fremont Business Owner
Court Center | 2018/06/16 00:54
Kondamoori, 56, of Incline Village, Nev., and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in a 33-count indictment filed May 5, 2016.  The indictment contains charges in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas.

“USCIS is committed to combatting instances of fraud, abuse and other nefarious activities threatening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” stated USCIS San Francisco District Director John Kramer. “This sentencing sends a strong message to anyone thinking about circumventing or violating our rule of law.”

Venkat Guntipally pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017, at which time he admitted that he and his wife founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms. In addition, Guntipally admitted that between approximately 2010 and 2014, he and his wife, together with others, submitted to the government more than one hundred fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies.  The end-client companies listed in the fraudulent H-1B applications either did not exist or never received the proposed H-1B workers.  None of the listed companies ever intended to receive those H-1B workers.  The scheme’s intended purpose was to create a pool of H-1B workers who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere.  Through this scheme, Venkat Guntipally, along with his co-conspirators, gained an unfair advantage over competing employment-staffing firms, and the Guntipally’s earned millions in ill-gotten gains.  Venkat Guntipally also admitted that he and his codefendants obstructed justice, including by directing workers to lie to investigators and by laundering money. 


Court makes no ruling in resolving partisan redistricting cases
Legal News | 2018/06/15 00:53
The Supreme Court will consider whether the purchasers of iPhone apps can sue Apple over allegations it has an illegal monopoly on the sale of the apps.

The court said Monday that it will take a case from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which ruled in January that the purchasers of iPhone apps could sue Apple. Their lawsuit says that when a customer buys an app the price includes a 30 percent markup that goes to Apple.

Apple had argued that it did not sell apps, but instead acted as an intermediary used by the app developers. Apple won initially in a lower court which dismissed the lawsuit.

In Wisconsin, the Democrats prevailed after a trial in which the court ruled that partisan redistricting could go too far and indeed, did in Wisconsin, where Republicans hold a huge edge in the legislature even though the state otherwise is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.

The Supreme Court said that the plaintiffs in Wisconsin had failed to prove that they have the right to sue on a statewide basis, rather than challenge individual districts.

The Democrats will have a chance to prove their case district by district.

Waiting in the wings is a case from North Carolina that seemingly addresses some of the high court's concerns. The lawsuit filed by North Carolina Democrats has plaintiffs in each of the state's 13 congressional districts. Like Wisconsin, North Carolina is generally closely divided in politics, but Republicans hold a 10-3 edge in congressional seats.

The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Wisconsin case cast doubt on the broadest theory about the redistricting issue known as partisan gerrymandering.

Roberts wrote that the Supreme Court's role "is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it," not generalized partisan preferences.


State appeals court reinstates California's right-to-die law
Top Legal News | 2018/06/14 00:55
A state appeals court has reinstated — at least for now — California's law allowing terminally ill people to end their lives.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside issued an immediate stay Friday putting the End of Life Option back into effect. The court also gave opponents of its decision until July 2 to file objections.

The law allows adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor has determined that they have six months or less to live.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia declared the law unconstitutional last month, stating that it had been adopted illegally because lawmakers passed it during a special Legislative session called to address other matters.

Ottolia didn't address the issue of whether it's proper for people to end their lives. Right-to-die advocates hailed Friday's action.

"This stay is a huge win for many terminally ill Californians with six months or less to live because it could take years for the courts to resolve this case," Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion & Choices, said in a statement.

"Thankfully, this ruling settles the issue for the time being, but we know we have a long fight ahead before we prevail."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who had asked the appeals court to stay Ottolia's ruling, also praised the decision.

"This ruling provides some relief to California patients, their families, and doctors who have been living in uncertainty while facing difficult health decisions," Becerra said. "Today's court ruling is an important step to protect and defend the End of Life Option Act for our families across the state."


Supreme Court addresses question of foreign law in US courts
Headline News | 2018/06/13 17:56
The Supreme Court says United States federal courts should consider statements from foreign governments about their own laws but do not have to consider them as binding.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for a unanimous court that federal courts should give "respectful consideration" to what foreign governments say. But she wrote that federal courts don't have to treat what they say as conclusive.

Ginsburg said the appropriate weight given to a government's statement in each case will depend on the circumstances, including the clarity, thoroughness and support for what a government says.

The Thursday ruling came in a case that involves two U.S.-based purchasers of vitamin C, one in Texas and the other in New Jersey, and vitamin C exporters in China.




Court: Compliance reached in education funding case
Legal Watch | 2018/06/12 07:17
A long-running court case over the adequacy of education funding in Washington state has ended, with the state Supreme Court on Thursday lifting its jurisdiction over the case and dropping daily sanctions after the Legislature funneled billions more dollars into public schools.

The court's unanimous order came in response to lawmakers passing a supplemental budget earlier this year that the justices said was the final step needed to reach compliance with a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling that found that K-12 school funding was inadequate. Washington's Constitution states that it is the Legislature's "paramount duty" to fully fund the education system. The resolution of the landmark case in Washington state comes as other states like Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky are now responding to calls for more money to be allocated to education.

The state had been in contempt of court since 2014 for lack of progress on that ruling, and daily sanctions of $100,000 — allocated specifically for education spending— had been accruing since August 2015.

"Reversing decades of underfunding has been among the heaviest lifts we've faced in recent years and required difficult and complex decisions, but I'm incredibly proud and grateful for all those who came together on a bipartisan basis to get this job done," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a written statement.

Over the past few years, lawmakers had put significantly more money toward education costs like student transportation and classroom supplies, but the biggest piece they needed to tackle to reach full compliance was figuring out how much the state must provide for teacher salaries. School districts had paid a big chunk of those salaries with local property-tax levies, something the court said had to be remedied.

In November, the court said a plan passed by the Legislature last year — which included a statewide property tax increase earmarked for education — satisfied its earlier ruling, but justices took issue with the fact that the teacher salary component of the plan wasn't fully funded until September 2019. This year, lawmakers expedited that timeframe to Sept. 1, 2018.

Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said that the court's order was a relief, though he noted that legislative debates over education funding aren't over. Sullivan said there is more work to be done on areas like special education, as well as recruiting and retaining teachers.



Woman accused of dismembering roommate appears in court
Headline News | 2018/06/12 07:16
A San Francisco woman looked composed and lucid as she made her first court appearance on Friday on a murder charge accusing her of killing and dismembering her roommate, whose body parts prosecutors say were discovered in plastic bags at their home.

Lisa Gonzales, 47, was in an orange jail suit with her hands cuffed behind her back during the brief appearance with her attorney. She answered a question from the judge, but she did not enter a plea. Her arraignment was continued until June 14.

Police arrested Gonzales on Saturday after her 61-year-old roommate was reported missing. Police discovered the victim's severed arms and legs in a maggot-filled storage container, according to prosecutors.

Gonzales told police that her roommate refused to move out, and the two of them argued on May 15, a San Francisco prosecutor said in a court filing. She told investigators she thinks she "flipped," but she didn't have a "real recollection" of what happened, Adam Maldonado said in the filing.

Outside court, Gonzales' public defender, Alex Lilien, said his client was a hardworking, single mother and had taken the victim, Maggie Mamer, in after Mamer said she had been evicted by unscrupulous landlords. He said he didn't have details about his client's mental health.

"She's charged with murder, and she's being portrayed as a monster in the media — and that's distressing," he said. "She's concerned about her family."

Mamer had lost her home and "fallen on hard times" when Gonzales in August 2017 offered her a room, Maldonado said in the court filing. They agreed on $400 a month as rent. But after items around the home began to get misplaced or broken, Gonzales told Mamer in April to move out in 30 days or face eviction, the prosecutor said.

Lilien said Friday that Gonzales did not know Mamer well when she let her move in, and that Mamer had a history of not paying rent.


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