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H-1B Lottery Registration: Time to Get Started!

H-1B Lottery Registration: Time to Get Started!

It is time to start getting ready for the annual H-1B lottery registration period, which is expected to open sometime in March 2022.  (USCIS has not yet announced exact dates.) 

As a reminder, individuals who have never previously been in H-1B status will need to go through the lottery registration process.  This may include, for example, employees or candidates who are:

  • Working with you pursuant to F-1 OPT/STEM OPT.
  • Working with you pursuant to a dependent EAD based on their spouse’s nonimmigrant status
  • Located outside the U.S.

We have prepared a bulletin providing a detailed overview of the process timeline, deadlines, and important things to know.  Please note that this bulletin will be updated as we receive more information from USCIS regarding exact dates.  (The link to the bulletin will remain the same as it gets updated.) 

Please review our bulletin closely as it contains important information.  Action items for you to be aware of at this time are: 

  1. Please start collecting and providing the names and email addresses of potential candidates now.  We ask that you provide this information by February 1, 2022.  Due to anticipated volume, advance planning is critical.  
  2. Please note that cases initiated on or after February 23, 2022 will be subject to additional surcharges.  Further details are listed in the bulletin linked above.   

If you have candidates who were not selected this year, or if you have provided the names of potential candidates to us throughout the past year, our office will follow up by mid-January. 

We anticipate reaching out to the bulk of H-1B lottery candidates throughout the months of January and February.  In the meantime, please feel free to provide any interested candidates with our flowchart overviewing the process.  The flowchart will be updated once we receive more information from USCIS regarding exact dates.

Thank you, and happy holidays! 

We Lost a Great Friend, Justice Harry Low

We Lost a Great Friend, Justice Harry Low

Justice Harry Low honored with the alumni award at the 2018 Dale Minami Berkeley Law Alumni Fellowship Event.

Justice Harry Low passed away last week. He was a great friend to our firm, but even more importantly, he was an outstanding jurist, supporter of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, mentor to many young attorneys, and a fierce advocate for civil rights. Our profound condolences to his wife, Mayling, and his family.

Harry was San Francisco’s first Asian American judge, a Justice of the California Court of Appeal, California’s 38th Insurance Commissioner, a mediator, an arbitrator, and leader of numerous organizations.

Despite his success, he eschewed titles and allowed us to just call him “Harry.” This reflected his humility and deep sense of humanity. You could talk to him casually and without formality with such ease in the presence of someone so accomplished.

Harry was a wonderful supporter of our firm and its attorneys. He encouraged large nonprofits to retain us, a minority-owned firm, to diversify the professionals they relied upon. He stopped evictions of our clients in Japantown during the “urban renewal” devastation removing Japanese Americans from Nihonmachi and African Americans from the Fillmore in San Francisco during the ‘60s and ‘70s, lobbied for the appointment of Asian American judges, and supported civil rights causes we fought for. He was an early activist and inspired us to continue our journey for equal rights and equal dignity.

And he did this all with grace, finesse, and civility, which belied his strong commitment to our communities. Harry had an effortless manner, as a judge, mediator, and arbitrator, which mirrored his kindness to everyone in personal interactions.

We at Minami Tamaki LLP owe a special debt to Justice Low – “Harry“ – and will honor his legacy in law, civil rights, and commitment to the community.

Dec. 16 Virtual Event ‘A Stain on American Jurisprudence: What ‘Korematsu vs. United States’ Means for Us Today’

Dec. 16 Virtual Event ‘A Stain on American Jurisprudence: What ‘Korematsu vs. United States’ Means for Us Today’

The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority.” – Chief Justice John Roberts on Korematsu v. United States, 2018.

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami headlines a free virtual event on Thursday, December 16, 2021, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Korematsu Institute, in a discussion facilitated by actor and independent filmmaker Lane Nishikawa.

REGISTER HERE

As an attorney on the legal team that overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu, Dale will share behind the scenes stories from the case and the implications and relevance of Korematsu in our world today.

See biographies for the panelists here.

This program is co-sponsored with the San Diego Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States. This panel is part of the program series: The Rebellious Miss Breed: San Diego Public Library & the Japanese American Incarceration. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a partner of the NEH. Visit calhum.org.

California Law Expanding Penalties for Wage Theft Goes Into Effect on January 1, 2022

California Law Expanding Penalties for Wage Theft Goes Into Effect on January 1, 2022

A new law making the intentional theft of wages punishable as grand theft, and thus a felony, will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 1003 (“AB 1003”) into law on September 27, 2021. AB 1003 creates California Penal Code Section 487(m), which makes the “intentional” theft of wages in an amount greater than $950 from any one employee, or $2,350 in the aggregate from two or more employees, by any employer in a 12-month period punishable as grand theft.

AB 1003 defines “theft of wages” as “the intentional deprivation of wages, as defined in Section 200 of the Labor Code, gratuities, as defined in Section 350 of the Labor Code, benefits, or other compensation, by unlawful means, with the knowledge that the wages, gratuities, benefits, or other compensation is due to the employee under the law.”

Under AB 1003, independent contractors are included under the definition of “employee” and hiring entities of independent contractors are included under the definition of “employer.”

Changing intentional wage theft to a felony may increase the number of charges brought against employers by government authorities. AB 1003 also does not prohibit employees or the California Labor Commissioner from commencing a civil action to seek remedies provided for under the California Labor Code. The new legislation also allows base wages, gratuities, and other compensation that are the subject of a prosecution to be recovered as restitution.

Employers should ensure compliance with wage and hour laws, including, but not limited to, making sure all wages are paid in a timely fashion, ensuring policies are in the place to identify payroll errors, and tracking the payout of all gratuities.

For more information on, you may contact Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, or Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.

Lisa Mak Begins Term as President of the Asian American Bar Association in January 2022

Lisa Mak Begins Term as President of the Asian American Bar Association in January 2022

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak begins her term in January 2022 as President of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”), one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the nation and one of the largest minority bar associations in California.  

Lisa will be the first attorney from Minami Tamaki LLP to serve as President of AABA. She served as Vice President and President-elect this year, after serving as Treasurer in 2020 and as Secretary in 2019. 

The AABA 46th Annual Gala is scheduled for March 30, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Lisa chose “Speak Up, Rise Up” as the gala theme when reflecting on the anti-API hate incidents in the past few years and how our community and allies spoke up, fought back, and elevated the crisis into a mainstream issue. At the gala and throughout her term, Lisa will aspire to honor AABA’s history of speaking up for our community and to continue building that momentum while elevating our members in the legal profession and keeping our voice at the table. 

Lisa continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Partner Sean Tamura-Sato and Associate Claire Choo are former AABA board members. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations. 

A deep commitment to our communities and diversity issues guides Lisa’s service. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach and for the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She is actively involved in the California Employment Lawyers Association (“CELA”) and serves on the Board of CELA’s foundation. Lisa is also a past board member of the Bar Association of San Francisco. 

Lisa is an Associate in Minami Tamaki’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group. Her practice includes employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, contract claims, and labor code violations. She is experienced in litigation, from pre-litigation negotiations to trials and appeals. She also advises employees on employment contracts and severance agreements. She writes frequently about social justice and workplace equality issues, and her work has been published in Plaintiff Magazine and on the CELA Voice blog. 

Lisa has served as trial counsel in multiple trials involving a wide variety of employment disputes in state and federal court. In 2016, she was co-lead counsel on a five-week jury trial which resulted in a $3.5 million total verdict for four female officers at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The verdict was listed in the LexisNexis “Top 10 Employment Verdicts” for 2016 and was recognized by Leaders in the Law in its “Northern California’s Leading Lawyers” 2017 publication. 

She was selected by Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch for its 2022 list and as a Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2015-2021, an honor awarded to no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state. In 2017, Lisa was honored with the Legal Advocate Award from the Center for Workers’ Rights and with a civil rights award from the Equal Justice Society. 

Lisa graduated from UC San Diego summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and received her law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law. 

Olivia Serene Lee Authors Article in New Book, ‘Immigration Options for Academics and Researchers’

Olivia Serene Lee Authors Article in New Book, ‘Immigration Options for Academics and Researchers’

Partner Olivia Serene Lee authored the article “Gathering Evidence for Researchers in Private Industry” in the new book Immigration Options for Academics and Researchers, 3rd Ed released in October 2021 by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Olivia is an elected Director on AILA’s national Board of Governors.

Immigration Options for Academics and Researchers, 3rd Ed. breaks down the legal environment of this unique branch of immigration with practice pointers and articles, analyzing it from many different angles, including border and consular issues.

With articles written by AILA attorneys and members of NAFSA, this new third edition includes advice on avoiding and challenging RFEs; tips for handling researchers in the private sector, at public universities and colleges, and in unionized positions; client intakes including developing alternative strategies, avoiding potential pitfalls, and planning efficiently; clear, detailed information on increasingly complicated F and J visas; and reviews of AAO cases involving a variety of academic-related petitions.

Learn more and purchase the book here.

Minami Tamaki Obtains $2.675 Million Settlement for Injured Pedestrians

Minami Tamaki Obtains $2.675 Million Settlement for Injured Pedestrians

Minami Tamaki Senior Associate Seema Bhatt obtained $2,675,000 in settlements for two of our clients who were injured while walking by a truck that failed to yield.

“May,” a 36-year-old woman was walking across a street when she was struck by a truck that failed to yield to her, injuring her and her aunt “June”. Initially, May complained mostly of pain on her head where she struck the pavement. However, in monitoring her symptoms over the next several months, we noted that she developed symptoms of post-concussive syndrome, including dizziness, slurred speech, and inability to focus.

We referred May for treatment and for further diagnosis with experts in traumatic brain injury. May also complained of soreness in her hip, which suggested a more serious injury than originally reported. We encouraged further workup of this condition, and her doctors found she had a tear in her hip cartilage.

May worked in a startup company in customer relations and quality assurance, but her symptoms made her job too difficult for her to handle and caused her to take a less stressful job. May underwent arthroscopic surgery on her hip, and may require another surgery in the future. However, her concussion symptoms continued to interfere with her job and her relations with her husband and children.

May’s doctors diagnosed her with mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the collision. However, the experts hired by the driver’s attorneys claimed May was simply depressed, and that her emotional problems were due to causes other than the collision. We rebutted these defense claims with the testimony of a world-recognized expert on PTSD and, at mediation, Seema settled May’s claim for $2,250,000.

May’s aunt June, a 74-year-old woman, suffered fractures of her left ankle and right wrist, trauma to her left wrist, and injury to the soft tissues of her left thigh. Complicating June’s injuries was a preexisting cyst in her left wrist due to an autoimmune condition, dermatomyositis, which made the wrist especially susceptible to inflammation due to trauma.

As a result of her wrist being injured in the collision, this condition flared up to the point June required surgery to remove the cyst. This was followed by a procedure to drain the wound, and hand therapy to restore function of her left hand. At mediation, Seema obtained a settlement for June in the amount of $425,000, bringing the total settlement for our two clients to $2,675,000.

New Regional COVID-19 Travel Ban for Several African Countries

New Regional COVID-19 Travel Ban for Several African Countries

On November 26, 2021, President Biden announced a new COVID-19 public health travel ban from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in response to the Omicron Variant.

Effective November 29, 2021, at 12:01 am EST, foreign nationals who have been physically present in any of the above-mentioned countries within 14 days of travel to the U.S. will be barred from entry with the exception of the following:

  • U.S. citizens and nationals;
  • U.S. lawful permanent residents;
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents;
  • A foreign national parent or legal guardian of an unmarried U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 21;
  • A foreign national sibling of a U.S. citizen of lawful permanent resident, provided they are both unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • A foreign national child, foster child or ward of a U.S. citizen of lawful permanent resident, or a prospective adoptee with IR-4 or IH-4 visa;
  • A foreign national who has been invited by the U.S. government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the COVID-19 virus;
  • A foreign air or sea crewmember;
  • Certain A, C, E-1 (TECRO or TECO employees), G and NATO nonimmigrants within the scope of section 11 of the UN Headquarters Agreement;
  • A foreign national whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives;
  • A foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest; and,
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces and their spouses and children.

Exempt individuals must comply with the existing vaccination and testing requirement.

The CDC website provides updated information regarding testing and vaccine requirements.  The U.S. will accept vaccines that are FDA approved or authorized as well as those that are on the WHO’s emergency use list.

MT Perspective:

The Department of State has not issued guidance how to apply for the “National Interest Exception” to obtain a waiver for the travel ban.

As of November 29, 2021, it is unclear whether the criteria and standards for the previous regional travel bans will apply. It is also unclear whether the Department of State will issue a visa even if the foreign national is subject to the ban and has not been granted a waiver.

MT is closely monitoring the COVID-19 travel ban and restrictions and will continue to provide updates.

USCIS Completes Third Round of Selections for FY2022 H-1B Lottery

USCIS Completes Third Round of Selections for FY2022 H-1B Lottery

On November 19, 2021, USCIS announced that they have selected an additional 16,753 registrations for this year’s H-1B lottery.

If your company filed any H-1B registrations this year that have not yet been selected, you will be able to check for updates on each case in the myUSCIS portal.

  • Cases that indicate “Selected,” and were not already selected in March or July, have been selected in the additional round and the next step will be to file a petition between November 22, 2021 and February 23, 2022.
  • Cases that indicate “Submitted” will be held “in reserve.” We do not know when USCIS will provide final confirmation of non-selection; for last year’s lottery, USCIS did not provide final confirmation of non-selection until February 2021.

In June 2021, USCIS announced that they received 308,613 registrations for the 85,000 available slots, of which it selected 87,500. In July 2021, USCIS selected an additional 27,717 registrations.

If USCIS does not receive enough petitions to meet the annual cap, it may select additional cases from the reserve. We do not know if there will be any additional rounds of selections in the coming months.

Our office will reach out to candidates regarding the status of their cases. We will begin work on the petitions for those selected in the lottery over the course of the next week.