Blog : minette kwok

Minette Kwok and Immigration Law Leaders Convene in DC

On April 17, 2015, Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Minette Kwok attended a national meeting of the board of trustees of the American Immigration Council, an organization that champions the contributions of immigrants to the American public and works to counteract the misleading and negative stereotypes about immigrants.

Minette joined the AIC board in 2012, continuing her service as a leader in the immigration bar. She has served as a Commissioner with the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization’s Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission; as Chair of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Northern California; and as Liaison to the Department of Labor, Region IX.

The AIC national board had a lively discussion on the fate of President Obama’s 2014 executive action intended to fix our broken immigration system, including the impact of an injunction issued by a federal judge in Texas against the presidential order. The board was not hopeful that comprehensive immigration reform would pass Congress this year.

Board members also shared thoughts on how immigration would impact the 2016 Presidential elections, and which constituencies and communities would impact the debate.

AIC staff and board members entertained ideas on how to best position the organization to have national impact given the stalemate in Congress on immigration reform. There was agreement at the meeting for ongoing litigation and advocacy on issues involving due process, access to counsel, abuses by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, family detention, and a timely response to states challenging the President’s executive action on immigration.

While in D.C., Minette also attended the 20th Annual D.C. Immigrant Achievement Awards, honoring Suzette Brooks Masters and the JM Kaplan Fund with the Stephen K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award, Armando Trull of radio station WAMU with the Immigrant Achievement Award, and Aditya Sood of Working Together for Change with the Immigrant Youth Achievement Award.

“After three years on the AIC national board of trustees, I’m amazed at the work of the organization on the cutting edge of immigration law and policy, “said Minette. “Its leadership and staff represent all that is outstanding, forward thinking, and compassionate within the immigration bar.”

Report from DC on National Immigration Policy

kwokMinami Tamaki LLP Partner Minette A. Kwok recently engaged in national immigration policy in Washington, D.C., in her roles as a member of the national Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council, and as a member and former national board member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

The American Immigration Council plays a leading role in the national debate over immigration reform. Minette joined the AIC national board in June 2012. The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Minette was in D.C. in early April as part of an effort to put pressure on Congress to take a forward thinking stand on comprehensive immigration reform. She joined a 400-person AILA delegation to meet with and educate Members of Congress on AILA’s positions related to immigration reform.

At an AIC reception, Minette had the chance to meet former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was being honored at the event.

“Sec. Powell spoke about his history growing up in Harlem as the son of Jamaican immigrants, bring denied entry to West Point because he was black, but later becoming the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then Secretary of State,” said Minette. “He touted his current work in venture capital in Silicon Valley, and highlighted Bloom Energy, a company founded by an immigrant and one that he is very proud of.” [Bloom Energy is a client of Minami Tamaki’s Immigration Practice Group.]

At a meeting of the AIC board of trustees, Minette and the other trustees heard from experts about the history surrounding the current immigration reform debate, on the the role of the Latino community, and some prognostications on what is to come. The AIC national board also hammered out its priorities for immigration reform.

“It was both illuminating and impressive to see the respect and recognition that AIC has developed on the Hill,’ said Minette. “I’m proud to be serving on the national board of an organization with a strong national voice on immigration issues.”

As of this writing, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act” is pending a vote by the full Senate. If it passes both houses of Congress, it would be the federal government’s first major change in immigration laws since 1986.

Minette Kwok Joins American Immigration Council Board of Trustees

Minette KwokMinami Tamaki LLP Partner Minette A. Kwok will join the national Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council, effective June 2012.

Based in Washington, D.C., the American Immigration Council has played a leading role in the national debate over immigration reform. With its focus on advocacy, public policy, litigation and education, the AIC is dedicated to changing the way Americans think and act towards immigrants, and committed towards advancing fundamental fairness and due process for immigrants.

“The AIC sits on the cutting edge of immigration law and policy, and I’m excited to be a part of it, “said Kwok. “Its leadership represents all that is outstanding, forward thinking, and compassionate within the immigration bar.”

“The Trustees voted unanimously to have Minette join the Board. She is a perfect fit for our organization given her expertise, demonstrated leadership, and contributions to the immigrant community,” said Board of Trustees Chair Kirsten Schlenger, managing partner of Weaver Schlenger Mazel LLP.

Ms. Kwok heads the immigration practice group at Minami Tamaki LLP, which focuses primarily on business immigration, representing startups and Fortune 500 companies in the IT, engineering, clean energy, and manufacturing industries, guiding employers through mergers/acquisitions, reduction in force, and phenomenal growth.

She has served as a Commissioner with the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization’s Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission; as Chair of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Northern California; and as Liaison to the Department of Labor, Region IX.

Minette has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer by Law & Politics Magazine for eight consecutive years, was selected as one of the Top 50 Female Northern California Super Lawyers, and has been awarded an AV rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating for competence and ethics issued by that publication, reserved for attorneys designated as outstanding in their field.

Delays in Prevailing Wage Determination

The Department of Labor (DOL) has temporarily suspended the issuance of Prevailing Wage Determinations (PWDs) for H-1B petitions and PERM Labor Certification Applications. To date, the DOL has not committed to a date it will resume prevailing wage processing.

The delay is due to a federal court mandate that requires DOL to reissue PWDs for approximately 4,000 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker petitions using a revised wage methodology in line with new federal regulations. To comply, DOL has dedicated all its resources to H-2B cases, and suspended PWD issuance for all other cases. DOL estimates that they will complete the H-2B cases by October 1, 2011.

The delay particularly affects the filing of PERM applications, the first step for foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency through employment. A PWD is needed for all PERM applications before it can be filed and involves the issuance of a wage level determination according to the job code and location of an occupation. The delay could result in difficult timing issues for foreign nationals who need to extend their H-1B petitions beyond the sixth year. Also, it may negatively impact children of foreign nationals who are close to aging out. Employers may also need to rerun advertisements if they are unable to utilize existing recruitment.

The DOL has not commented on how it will handle these issues for employers. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has reached out to DOL to resume processing of PWDs and address the potential ramifications of this delay. We will provide you with additional updates as we receive new information.

Source: Minette Kwok, Partner, Minami Tamaki LLP’s Immigration and Nationality Law Practice

Minette Kwok, Lynda Won-Chung Selected for Who’s Who Legal

Minami Tamaki partner Minette Kwok and senior counsel Lynda Won-Chung, both with the firm’s immigration practice group, have been selected by Who’s Who Legal, a site featuring more than 10,000 of the world’s leading private practice lawyers from over 100 national jurisdictions.

Nominees are selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. “Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed,” says the site.

Who’s Who Legal does not accept paid entries into their listings.

Minami Tamaki Immigration Practice Group Helps Navigate Immigration Visa Maze, Ease Stress

ipgThe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on April 8 announced that it was continuing to accept H-1B nonimmigrant petitions subject to the cap for this Federal fiscal year (2011).

USCIS received approximately 13,500 H-1B petitions counting towards the 65,000 cap. The agency has received approximately 5,600 petitions for individuals with advanced degrees.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.

Two and three years ago, in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the USCIS H-1B caps were reached on the very first day that petitions were eligible to be accepted, said Minette Kwok (left top photo), Minami Tamaki’s partner leading the firm’s immigration practice group.

“The poor economy is clearly causing the low number of H-1B petitions,” said Kwok. “In previous years, the petition process was stressful for foreign nationals because they didn’t know whether there were other options for them to work and stay in the U.S. It ended up being a lottery system.”

To ensure a fair system, USCIS said that it might randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit from the petitions received on the final receipt date, when the number of petitions is nearing the cap limitations. USCIS will reject cap subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the final receipt date.

“We can’t control the numbers but at least we can do our best to get petitions submitted quickly and communicate with employees quickly on news,” senior counsel Lynda Won-Chung (left middle photo) pointed out. “The uncertainty of one’s future is dependent on the visa process can be nerve-wrecking. We recall one employee’s response when we advised him the H-1B petition on his behalf was selected: ‘Wow, thank you for the wonderful news! That was such a relief! It’s celebration time for me. Thanks again for your enormous efforts.’ ”

The Immigration Practice Group of Minami Tamaki offers expertise in a broad array of immigration services. Partner Minette Kwok, senior counsel Lynda Won-Chung and associate Olivia Serene Lee (left bottom photo) routinely assist employers and employees, nationwide, in obtaining temporary and permanent employment-based visas. And just as often, they help individual clients to secure family-based immigration status through marriage or other qualifying family relationships.

Immigration matters are very personal to clients and Kwok, Won-Chung and Lee take pride in providing a level of service that enables their clients to concentrate on their jobs or other matters, allowing Minami Tamaki immigration attorneys to best assist them in achieving their immigration goals.