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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Settlement Reached between F.T.C. and Facebook over Privacy Issue

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission in Washington announced a broad settlement with Facebook that requires the company to respect the privacy wishes of its users.

The order requires Facebook to obtain its users’ “affirmative express consent” before it can override their own privacy settings. Facebook is also obliged to undergo an independent privacy audit every two years for the next 20 years, according to the terms of the settlement.

The order stems largely from changes that Facebook made to the way it handled its users’ information in December 2009. The Commission accused Facebook of engaging in “unfair and deceptive” practices.

No fines were levied and the Commission did not accuse Facebook of intentionally breaking the law. However, if Facebook violated the terms of the settlement in the future, it would be liable to pay a penalty of $16,000 a day for each count, the F.T.C. said.

To read the full story, click here.

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USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B Cap

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last week that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2012. USCIS is notifying the public that Nov. 22, 2011, was the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2012.

Properly filed cases will be considered received on the date that USCIS physically receives the petition; not the date that the petition was postmarked. USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for new H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2012 that arrive after Nov. 22, 2011.

As of Oct. 19, 2011, USCIS had also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the ‘advanced degree’ exemption. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. In addition, petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted toward the FY 2012 H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
  • extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the U.S.;
  • change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

  • allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as scientists, engineers or computer programmers.

For Immigration Law related inquiries in German or English, please contact us.

(c) Picture: USCIS

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alabama Cracks Down on (Illegal) Immigration

In the past we reported about controversial immigration laws in Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. Another state cracking down on illegal immigration is Alabama. Last weeks arrest of a German Mercedes-Benz executive by Tuscaloosa police for driving without identification required by the law raises the question, however, whether such laws hurt hurt economic development of the respective state by cracking down on legal immigration.

Even though authorities dropped the charge against the German Mercedes-Benz executive last Wednesday, the arrest drew widespread attention. The German automaker Mercedes-Benz is one of the state’s leading employers, and its decision to build its first U.S. assembly plant in Alabama in 1993 provided the spark that helped lead to the state’s large automotive industry, which includes foreign manufacturers Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. One newspaper even cited the executive’s arrest in urging Mercedes to move to Missouri from Alabama.

To read the full article, please click here.

For Immigration Law inquiries please contact us via email at or via phone at 704.333.5230.

(c) Picture: Mercedes-Benz U.S. International

Friday, November 11, 2011

3rd Annual AmCham Business Day

As previously reported on our blog, on November 1, 2011 the 3rd Annual AmCham Business Day was held in Atlanta, GA. The BridgehouseLaw Charlotte team - Managing Partner Reinhard von Hennigs, Attorney Nicole M. Dickey and Attorney Judith S. Haensel - joined the amazing event which addressed Global Changes – Transatlantic Challenges: how political uprisings and financial turmoil impact Euro-American business relations.

Below are some pictures taken at the event:

BridgehouseLaw Charlotte team (from the left: Reinhard von Hennigs, Managing Partner; Judith Haensel, Attorney; Nicole Dickey, Attorney) with Atlanta-based colleague Sebastian Meis.

Reinhard von Hennigs (center) during a discussion with former German politician Friedrich Merz (left).

Reinhard von Hennigs (right) speaking with Friedrich Merz (left).

Judith Haensel (far left) and Nicole Dickey (far right) of BridgehouseLaw Charlotte with German Tax Consultant Joerg Kemkes of BridgehouseTax and Kathleen Darmstadt of BridgehouseLaw Atlanta.

Judith Haensel (far right) of BridgehouseLaw Charlotte next to Kathleen Darmstadt of BridgehouseLaw Atlanta with former German politician Friedrich Merz.

Verbesserter Schutz für persönliche Daten europäischer Passagiere

Die persönlichen Daten europäischer Passagiere werden bei Flügen in die USA künftig besser geschützt. Nach knapp einjährigen Verhandlungen hat die EU mit den USA ein neues Abkommen über die Weitergabe von Fluggastdaten ausgehandelt.

Dem neuen Abkommen zufolge, welchem Europaparlament und Mitgliedsstaaten noch zustimmen müssen, werden sämtliche Datensätze künftig nach sechs Monaten anonymisiert, so dass US-Terrorfahnder nicht mehr auf die Person des Fluggastes schließen können. Zudem dürfen die Datensätze insgesamt nicht mehr 15, sondern nur noch 10 Jahre gespeichert bleiben.

Weitere International Law News finden Sie auf unserer Facebook Seite.

Quelle: Spiegel Online Reise; Picture:

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Daimler to Invest $350M to Build 5th Mercedes Model in Alabama

Good news for the State of Alabama and the Southeastern United States: Daimler AG said it will invest $350 million to produce a fifth Mercedes-Benz model at its factory in Vance, Alabama, starting in 2015.

The investment will create an additional 400 jobs at the plant. The company did not provide details about the additional vehicle.

To read more, please click here.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Status and Highlights of the Visit USA Act

As previously reported on our blog, last week two senators introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate providing foreigners with the opportunity to obtain a visa when buying a pricey home in the United States. The title of the bill is "Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act."

The bill was referred to the Senate committee on October 20, 2011. Currently it has been read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Section 8 of the bill - Increasing Home Ownership by Priority Visitors - outlines the new measure which will offer visas to any foreigner making a cash investment of at least $500,000 on residential single-family houses, condos or townhouses. The text of Section 8 is presented below and the most pertinent parts have been highlighted in bold print.

(a) Nonimmigrant Status- Section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by section 5(a), is further amended by adding at the end the following:

‘(X) subject to section 214(t), an alien who, after the date of the enactment of the VISIT USA Act--

‘(i)(I) uses at least $500,000 in cash to purchase 1 or more residences in the United States, which each sold for more than 100 percent of the most recent appraised value of such residence, as determined by the property assessor in the city or county in which the residence is located;
‘(II) maintains ownership of residential property in the United States worth at least $500,000 during the entire period the alien remains in the United States as a nonimmigrant described in this subparagraph; and
‘(III) resides for more than 180 days per year in a residence in the United States that is worth at least $250,000; and

‘(ii) the alien spouse and children of the alien described in clause (i) if accompanying or following to join the alien.’.

(b) Visa Application Procedures- Section 214 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by section 5(b), is further amended by adding at the end the following:

‘(t) Visas of Nonimmigrants Described in Section 101(a)(15)(X)-

‘(1) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall authorize the issuance of a nonimmigrant visa to any alien described in section 101(a)(15)(X) who submits a petition to the Secretary that demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that the alien--
‘(A) has purchased a residence in the United States that meets the criteria set forth in section 101(a)(15)(X)(i);
‘(B) is not inadmissible under section 212; and
‘(C) will comply with the terms set forth in paragraph (2).

‘(2) An alien who is issued a visa under this subsection--
‘(A) shall reside in the United States at a residence that meets the criteria set forth in section 101(a)(15)(X)(i) for more than 180 days per year;
‘(B) is not authorized to engage in employment in the United States, except for employment that is directly related to the management of the residential property described in section 101(X)(i)(II);
‘(C) is not eligible for any form of assistance or benefit described in section 403(a) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1613(a)); and
‘(D) may renew such visa every 3 years under the same terms and conditions.’.

For more information on the Visit USA Act and other Immigration Law inquiries, please contact us via email at or via phone at 704.333.5230.


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