Public Charge – 領取公共福利影響綠卡申請?

2019年8月14日美國國土安全局發表了一部新的法規,將對有意移民的公共福利受益人產生重大影響。原先此法規預計在2019年10月中正式生效,但因此項改革過深過廣,許多維權團體向法院提出告訴,並向數個法院聲請臨時禁制令,暫停該法生效。然而,美國聯邦最高法院在2020年1月27日認定該法案並無違憲,且於2020年2月24日生效施行。

什麼是公共負擔(Public Charge)?

「公共負擔」指的是可能成為主要依靠政府來維持生活的外籍人士。白話來說,就是將來可能主要依靠公共福利維生而造成美國政府財政負擔的外國人。美國政府在評估你是否會成為它的負擔時,將會同時考量下列數個要素:年齡、健康、家庭狀況、資產、財務狀況、是否領取某些特定的公共福利、教育程度及專長。領取公共福利並不是成為公共負擔的唯一考量。

公共負擔適用於我嗎?

公共負擔適用於在美國境內的綠卡或簽證申請者。若您為美國公民,或已持有綠卡,正在更新綠卡或正在申請成為美國公民,則公共負擔並不適用於您。但若您計劃離開美國超過180天,公共負擔可能將適用於您,請進一步諮詢律師。

公共負擔並不適用於以下特殊簽證申請者或持有者:

  • 難民
  • 政治庇護者
  • U/T Visa 申請者或持有者
  • 防止婦女受暴法案的申訴者
  • 特殊青少年移民申請者

領取哪些公共福利會被納入公共負擔考量?

受影響的公共福利主要為現金補助:

  • 社會安全生活補助金(Supplemental Security Income)
  • 家庭臨時紓困補助計畫(Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)的補助金
  • 各州或地方的現金援助計畫

公共醫療補助的長期住院醫療照護也包含在內,例如政府提供的療養院或精神病院等長期護理公共補助。短期的住院恢復則不包含在內。

哪些公共福利不會被納入考量?

非現金性質的公共福利,或非維護生計的特殊目的現金補助都不包含在公共負擔的考量範圍內。例如:

  • 失業救濟金
  • 公共醫療補助,包含疫苗接種、傳染病檢測、短期恢復治療、產前保健、緊急醫療救護等非長期住院醫療照護的補助
  • 兒童健康保險計畫(Children’s Health Insurance Program)
  • 營養補助計畫,包含糧食券、婦嬰及兒童營養特別補助計畫、學校午餐及早餐計畫,及其他緊急食物補助計畫
  • 住房補助
  • 兒童保健服務
  • 緊急支援,例如低收入家庭緊急支援計畫(Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)
  • 緊急災難紓困援助
  • 寄養及領養援助
  • 教育補助,例如就讀公立學校
  • 職業培訓計畫
  • 家庭臨時紓困補助計畫中的非現金補助
  • 屬於收入性質的現金發放,例如Title II Social Security benefits、政府退休金、退伍軍人福利,及其他形式的收入福利

被認定為公共負擔的影響

當您有意申請成為美國永久居民,例如申請綠卡時,美國移民局就會用上述標準來評斷你是否可能會成為公共負擔。一旦您被認為公共負擔,則會影響您的永久居留申請,換句話說,您可能就拿不到綠卡。此外,不僅永久居留申請,一些非移民目的的申請也可能受影響,例如延展您的非移民簽證。不可不慎。

想知道您是否可能被認為公共負擔,或了解更多有關公共負擔法規的議題,請持續關注本專欄,或請聯絡我們

*本文章僅供參考,個案仍需由律師分別評估,本文並不做任何擔保。

H-1B 簽證電子註冊制度即將正式上線

2019年初,美國移民局對H1B工作簽證申請祭出重大改革,其中一項改革為採納電子註冊系統,預計將在2020財務年度上線。

關於H-1B工作簽證,以往申請人必須在每年的四月一號至五號間,將所有的申請材料全數遞交申請,移民局再從中抽取中籤者,並進行實質審查。

在電子註冊制度上線後,申請人的雇主必須在每年大約三月中時,在網上註冊申請,此時並不需要遞交申請人的完整申請材料,僅須在網上填寫例如雇主名稱、EIN號碼、申請人姓名、護照號碼、職位、最高學歷等簡要資訊。移民局會在開放註冊前30天公告該年度註冊時程,開放註冊時間至少為14天。

註冊時程結束後,移民局將會從中註冊名單中抽出中籤者,只有中籤者才需要進一步向移民局提交完整的申請材料,並由移民局從中進行實質審查。

此項新制度將在2020財務年度正式上線,移民局新架設的註冊網站預計將會在該14天的註冊時程內達到流量高峰,各位雇主及申請人一定要及早上線註冊,避免因系統因素錯失了註冊時間。

有美國簽證/移民的需求或疑問,歡迎隨時聯繫我們

相關文章:

2019年H-1B拒簽率創新高

2019年住房穩定及承租人保護法案

租屋就像談一場戀愛,前階段與房東的曖昧交涉,租期中難免產生一些小摩擦,後階段又該如何和平分手互不相傷害,這些都是租屋時必經的過程。

紐約州在2019年6月通過一項租金管制改革法案「2019年住房穩定及承租人保護法案(“Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019”)」以期更能保障承租人的權益。我們將以上述租屋三階段來介紹新法案將如何影響您的權益。

一、磋商階段

  • 信用紀錄與背景調查

新法案規定房東只能收取最高美金20元的信用紀錄調查費來對潛在的承租人進行背景調查。此外,房東必須在調查完畢後,提供該承租人一份信用背景調查報告的影本,以及調查費用收據。

當然,承租人可以主動提供房東其過去三十天內所自行調取的信用紀錄報告。此時房東就不能夠再以須調查信用背景為由而收取費用。

  • 租客黑名單

「黑名單」是房東識別潛在房客是否曾有不良租屋紀錄的方式。房東通常會委由私人公司查詢法院判決來了解潛在房客是否曾經被房東驅逐(Eviction),或曾有其他租屋糾紛。

新法案規定,將來房東不得以房客的黑名單紀錄為由,來拒絕出租房屋給該房客。

  • 押金

新法案規定,房東僅能收取最高一個月份房租的押金。

  • 屋況檢查

簽訂租約後,在租客搬入前,房東必須提供機會使租客能與其一同前往檢驗屋況。並且將檢驗結果納入租賃契約的一部分。這份屋況檢驗報告將可作為將來房東是否可抵扣押金以填補房東損害的證據。

二、承租階段

  • 遲繳房租

o 遲繳1-6天:遲繳通知及遲繳費

此時房東必須在租金到期日後五天內以Certified mail通知房客其已遲誤,並僅能從租金到期日後第六天開始起算遲繳費(late fees)。遲繳費最高僅能收取美金50元或月租金的百分之五,取其低者。

o 遲繳6-14天:驅逐程序

新法規定房東必須在進行驅逐程序前最少14天,對租客發出書面催繳請求(“14 day demand for rent”),若房客未能在這14天內繳清房租,房東便能向法院提出驅逐程序。

三、租約更新或中止

  • 租約更新

o 未滿一年的租約或其實際居住未滿一年:若房東計畫不再更新租約,或計畫將上漲超過百分之五的房租,則房東必須要在租約到期30天前對房客發出通知。
o 一年以上而未滿兩年的租約,或房客實際居住一年以上而未滿兩年:上述通知必須在租約到期60天前對房客發出通知。
o 兩年以上租約,或房客已實際居住兩年以上:上述通知必須在租約到期90天前對房客發出通知。

  • 租約提前中止

若房客決定在租約到期前搬離,則房東有責任自行減輕損害(mitigate the damage):房東至少必須採取合理的步驟,嘗試將房屋轉租給他人。若房東已成功的將房屋轉租,則搬離的房客將不須再負擔租約到期前的房租。

想了解更多您的權益,請持續關注本專欄。

2019年H1B拒簽率創新高

2019年H1B簽證的拒簽率來到了歷史新高! 截至2019年第三季度為止,美國移民局對於首次申請H-1B工作簽證者(Initial H1B Petition)的拒絕機率,從2015年的6%一路飆升到2019年的24%。

在這邊先說明一下申請H-1B簽證的步驟

首先,經過萬中選一的H-1B簽證抽籤程序後,若您很幸運的中籤,移民局將開始對你的背景資料進行實質審查。審查內容包含你的雇主是否真實存在?你是否真的符合工作資格?你的雇主真的有聘用你的需求?

移民局在初次審查後,若發現你的證據不夠周全,或對於你的資料有所疑慮,他們可能1)直接拒絕你的簽證申請,或是2)對你發出RFE補件通知(Request for Evidence)。

若您接到RFE補件通知,在律師的協助下補完所需證據資料後,移民局可能1)准許你的簽證申請,或2)拒絕你的簽證申請。

我們在這篇文章裡提到拒絕率,包含初次申請案件中,沒有RFE就被拒絕的案件,以及經過RFE後被拒絕的案件。

這個飆升的概率顯示移民局審查H-1B簽證的標準已更加嚴苛。在這種嚴峻的時刻,你更需要選擇一位細心、專業律師來幫助你提交申請或補件。

了解更多權益,請持續關注本專欄,或請聯絡我們

Fraud Disclaimer and Alert

It has come to our attention that someone has been usurping the name and the trademark of Anderson & Associates, LLP (this Firm), purporting to be a UK solicitor who allegedly has an office at Suite 1, One Sceptre House hornbeam Square North Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG2 8PB VG, England.

Please be aware that this Firm only has an office at 61 Broadway, Suite 2809, New York, NY 10006, USA. This Firm does not retain, collaborate, or associate with any UK solicitors or legal practitioners and does not make any unsolicited contact.

If someone approaches you purporting to be from this Firm for investment or partnership, IT IS A FRAUD. Please report to us immediately. We thank you for your attention.

The introduction of New York’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“HSTPA”)-Part C

Part C. So You Didn’t Make Rent this Month? Recent New York Legislation Protects Your Rights

Day 1-6 of Not Paying Rent –Notification & Late Fee

A landlord must notify the tenant via certified mail, within 5 days of the rent due date. Late fees may not be charged until the sixth day after the rent was due. The maximum late fee is restricted to either $50 or 5% of the monthly rent, whichever is less.

Day 6-14 –Legal (Eviction) Proceedings

A landlord must make a demand for rent in 14 days prior to the proceeding. Oral demands are permitted but will not count for purposes of a legal demand. The tenant will have 10 days to answer the demand or be in default. The tenant may also pay the rent prior to the proceeding, in which case the landlord would not be able to continue with the proceeding.

A Landlord May Not Use the Following Methods to Evict a Tenant

  • Using or threatening the use of force;
  • Landlord conduct which interferes with the tenant’s comfort, tranquility, peace, or quiet in their unit; or
  • Preventing or threatening to prevent the tenant’s occupancy of the unit (such as changing the locks).

The introduction of New York’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“HSTPA”)-Part B

Part B. Problems with your landlord? Recent New York legislation enhances your rights.

Lease Renewals

If a tenant has been living in a unit for less than one year, and the landlord plans to not offer a lease renewal or plans to increase the rent by more than 5%, the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days advance notice. If the tenancy was for 1-2 years, the landlord must provide at least 60 days’ notice. If the tenancy was for 2 years or more, the landlord must provide at least 90 days’ notice.

Early Lease Termination

If a tenant decides to vacate his/her unit prior to the lease end date, the landlord now has a duty to mitigate the damages. This means that the landlord must make “reasonable and customary steps” to relet the unit for the current lease value or market value, whichever is lower. The effect is that whereas formerly, a tenant who abandoned his lease would almost certainly still be on the hook for the remainder of his/her lease payments, with new legislation, the landlord must try to find a new tenant to lease the unit and if successful may not charge the former tenant for those months of rent.

The introduction of New York’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“HSTPA”)-Part A

Part A. How it affects the leasing process of rent-stabilized and unregulated units:

Credit and Background Checks

Landlords may only charge a maximum of $20 or the actual cost of the check, whichever is less, for performing a credit and background checks on prospective tenants. Additionally, the landlord must provide the prospective tenant with a copy of the report and a receipt from the credit reporting agency. Alternatively, tenants may provide the landlord with a copy of their credit or background check, conducted within the past 30 days; in this case, the landlord would not be able to charge a fee.

Blacklists

Blacklists were a way for Landlords to identify if a prospective tenant was ever involved in an eviction proceeding or other landlord-tenant action. Information obtained from a blacklist is no longer a valid reason for rejecting a prospective tenant.

Security Deposits

Security deposits are now limited to a maximum of one-month’s rent.

Inspection

After signing the lease but before occupancy begins, the tenant must be offered an opportunity to inspect the unit with the landlord. They must each note the condition of the unit on a signed agreement. This agreement can later be used as evidence if the landlord decides not to return the security deposit due to damage in the unit.

Resale and The First Sale Doctrine

Can reselling products get you into trouble? Or, can you stop people from reselling your product? Let’s dig into the spirit of trademark protection and an important rule- The First Sale Doctrine.

Have you ever sold your stuff like bikes or phones on the internet? Have you purchased one? Since the early 2000s when E-commerce platforms have mushroomed, much of the trade has taken place at both brick-and-mortar shops and online stores. Reselling goods, among other things, has become more feasible and convenient than ever before. However, can you sell any goods in any way you like even if it’s trademarked and tagged with “®” and “™”? Will your resale business constitute trademark infringement? Let’s take a look at the following examples.

  1. Kelly is always unsettled about technology and desperate to keep abreast of new phones. Knowing a new model is coming out, Kelly wants to sell her old phone “AA Note 8™” online as used product to compensate for the upcoming expense. Will Kelly’s sale infringe the mark owner AA Tech Inc’s right?
  2. Tim has an issue with impulsive buying. On Monday morning, he went out for a cup of coffee but ended up having a brand-new AA Note 8™ in hands. As much as he regretted, within a second, Tom wants to sell the phone online and earmarked it as a brand-new product. Will Tom’s sale infringe the mark owner AA Tech Inc’s right?
  3. Bob is fond of AA Tech products and is a maestro of dropshipping. He was somehow able to acquire a batch of brand-new AA Note 8™ at wholesales prince. He now plans to retail it at his online business storefront “Smartphone Bob” for a fortune. Will Bob’s sale infringe the mark owner AA Tech Inc’s right?

The critical mission of Trademark Law is to identify the source of goods and protect owners’ goodwill and reputation from being diluted or tarnished by consumer confusion. It is all about the protection of goodwill and prevention of confusion. When it comes to resale and trademark infringement, one specific rule needs to be taken into account: the first-sale doctrine (or exhaustion rule). The first sale doctrine limits trademark owner’s right by dictating that those who resell genuine trademarked products are generally not liable for trademark infringement. The rationale behind that is the sale of genuine products will not damage owners’ goodwill or cause confusion to consumers.

However, the first sale doctrine does not apply when there is a material difference between resold products and original products. If a resold product is materially different from those sold by the owner, the resold product is not genuine. The material difference exists when a reseller does not maintain the same level of quality control, customer service, warranty, or return policy. These nonphysical characteristics are expected by consumers. If consumers’ expectation falls short with resentment, the reputation, goodwill, and integrity of a brand will decline.

Let’s go back to the previous examples. Kelly’s sale of the phone as a used product might not infringe AA Tech’s right. The phone is genuine. And the buyer knows that the phone was used by Kelly and has no expectation that Kelly would provide the same service as AA Tech will do. The phone is going to be sold as it is. There will be no confusion of the buyer about the source of product and thus no detriment to AA Tech’s goodwill.

Tim’s sale is pretty much the same. Although he is planning to sell the phone in brand-new condition and a buyer will expect the quality as it should be, the buyer will not be confused with the source of the phone; the buyer knows that he or she is not buying the phone from AA Tech but from Tim, a random individual.

However, Bob’s sale might be a different story. Bob wants to sell a batch of phones through his online storefront Smartphone Bob, where consumers are likely to perceive it as authorized seller, franchisee, branch, or affiliation. Buyers will expect Smartphone Bob to provide the same service and quality control that AA Tech is providing. They will also assume that Smartphone Bob has in depth knowledge of the phone. If Smartphone Bob cannot provide and maintain such, even though there may have been no physical change in the phone, there was a material difference in the nonphysical characteristics associated with the phone. Since a materially different phone is not genuine, the sale of such phones may result in trademark infringement. And consumers may be confused about the source of the phone.

In real life, to determine whether the first purchase doctrine applies to your resale or dropshipping business is not easy and always subject to the totality of circumstances. But keep it in mind: the less confusion you contribute to consumer, the less likelihood that infringement would occur. Other than the trademark issue, copyright is also a major concern where the first sale doctrine also applies.

To know more about your rights, please stay tuned or Contact Us.

被赖帐?教你如何以低成本自助向法院讨公道-纽约市小额诉讼法院

房东耍赖不归还订金?室友同学欠钱不还?你不是只能忍气吞声,本篇文章手把手教你如何小成本走法院讨公道。

许多人关于在美国上法院打官司都因为高成本而望之却步。许多留学生被欺负了也不知道该如何张声。不用担心,纽约市小额诉讼法院(New York City Small Claim Court)提供了另 一种簡便的小额金钱求偿管道。

Continue reading “被赖帐?教你如何以低成本自助向法院讨公道-纽约市小额诉讼法院”