Archives for June 2014

The Race Against the Clock for Immigrant Children

Time Waiting for ImmigrationImagine that a high school senior has put in all the time and effort to make it to graduation. Years of hard work have put the star student on track for graduation with honors and a full scholarship to the college of his choice. Everything progresses toward the exciting conclusion of this chapter in this young man’s life…until the day he is called into the principal’s office and told he could not graduate. He is at a loss for words and understanding. How could this happen? The principal explains that he cannot graduate because the final assignment for his senior English language arts class was not graded and reported. But it is not that he failed to turn in the assignment on time or that his work was not good; in fact, he turned it in early and it was outstanding. The problem is that his teacher simply did not get through the stack of essays she had to grade in time to meet the graduation deadline. As a result, the senior’s work is deemed incomplete and he is forced to start the year all over.

Fortunately, the above is just an illustrative scenario and not a real life example. It is cut and dried as to where the fault lies – the student suffered as a result of the actions of others. It seems inherently unfair and unjust. But justice and fairness are notions frequently involved in the debate over the interpretation of laws, where the decisions of the few affect the many.

Similar to the scenario above, there is a real-life situation unfolding in immigration law that potentially could affect thousands of young immigrants with their whole lives ahead of them. They have submitted the proper paperwork and waited in line for their “graduation” or in this case, the granting of their very own visa. They, too, are in a race against the clock. But instead of counting down the days until graduation, the clock ticks until until age 21 when they will “age out” of the visa line they are waiting in.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down its decision in Scialabba v. Cuellar de Osorio, a case involving minor children included as dependent beneficiaries in their parent’s visa petitions for permanent resident status but who turned 21 before the petitions could be decided by the government. The law at issue, the Child Status Protection Act, was passed by Congress in 2002 to protect immigrant children from the harsh consequences of “aging out” (or no longer being considered a child) and thus being denied immigrant benefits when their parents finally obtain visas. Siding with the government, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of a specific provision of the CSPA means that minor children of immigrant petitioners who age out before their parents can obtain visas will no longer receive the “priority date” given their parents, but instead must go to the back of the line and wait all over again for visas to become available. In other words, immigrant children will get no credit for the time (often many years) their parents spent waiting for visa petitions to be processed.

The above case highlights just one example of how complex, challenging and daunting navigating immigration law can be. If you or someone you know is facing a potentially life-changing immigration issue or problem, we’re here to help. With over twenty years of experience in immigration law in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the attorneys at Brownstein Nguyen are more than equipped to guide you through the legal process – whether you are seeking a visa, appealing a denial, adjusting status, or defending a removal or deportation case brought by the government. Please contact us for an immigration law consultation today.

Also, don’t forget to follow Brownstein and Nguyen on Facebook, Twitter, and Google + for other news and information regarding immigration.

Fast Food Law

In the lightening-quick internet age, options abound for simple, fast solutions to everyday problems. However, what’s quick and easy isn’t always complete or adequate. For example, when running late after a hectic, long day there are plenty of options for a quick meal including fast food drive-through and grocery store prepared meals. Problem solved! The family’s fed at a reasonable price, and everyone still made it to the soccer or baseball game or wherever else they needed to be on time.

Fast Food LawSwinging through the fast food lane might be okay in a pinch. But for obvious health reasons, you probably wouldn’t want to do it on a regular basis.

While it’s easy to understand that fast food is typically not healthy, the same can be said of “fast food” law. Yes, the drive-through mentality of fast and cheap has found its way into legal services. With the click of a button, an LLC can be formed, and according to the American Bar Association it may not be long before unhappy spouses can stop in at Walmart for a divorce. In Ontario, Canada, there are five quick-stop law firms located within Walmart stores. While divorce services have yet to be added and law offices are not present in stateside Walmarts, the chances of both coming to fruition are good.

Axess Law currently offers online legal services for a variety of legal issues associated with different aspects of life. The site map neatly categorizes the services that they offer. While they claim to fill the gap and make access to legal expertise affordable for those who may not otherwise have access, it is important to exercise caution when dealing with such options.

Online and big-box retail models of legal services might be appropriate for relatively simple legal matters, such as notarizing documents. But for more complicated matters, one is left wondering how much personal attention and true legal expertise a matter would receive. Skilled lawyers are specially trained and experienced in identifying and addressing the myriad legal issues that may be presented by individualized circumstances. Just as with fast food, one-size fits-all legal help might appear to be a quick and cheap solution. But in the end, it may not be the best solution. For one example of just how costly this approach can be, read the story about the legal battle caused by a poorly drafted online will here.

At Brownstein and Nguyen, we believe legal care should be accessible to all. We also understand that a one-size-fits-all model does not work for the law practice areas that we specialize in. As premier immigration, personal injury, and business litigation attorneys in Atlanta, we provide high quality legal expertise and individualized attention that affords each client the necessary help they need and deserve. Contact us today for your legal needs in Atlanta, GA.

Special Care Units and Memory Care Units

Memory CareHe sits and stares out the window, lost in his own thoughts. Even though he is here in this place, in this time, in front of that window, his thoughts have taken him somewhere else. He is not entirely aware that the world he sees exists only in his mind in another time and place, not the one he is physically living in.

This may describe a regular occurrence for your father, grandfather, aunt or uncle, or other family member suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. For many, memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s symptoms can be devastating and lead to the loss of independence. As individuals lose the ability to place themselves in the proper time and place, they may struggle to maintain daily tasks such as preparing meals, managing medication, household chores, and self care. When this happens, many families find themselves facing the difficult decision of placing a loved one in a care facility.

There is more to consider for the overall care and well-being of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia when choosing a care facility. You will still want to research, visit facilities and ask questions, but you will want to do all of this with memory care in mind. Many facilities offer a special wing or floor devoted to memory care. This portion of the facility is specifically designed and staffed with the needs of patients experiencing memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. In searching for a facility, you will want to ask if the facility offers a Memory Care Unit or a Special Care Unit (SCU).

According to gerontologist Sara Shelton of Seattle Care Solutions, Special Care Units offer a higher ratio of staff to residents than other types of care. Staff for Special Care Units typically have specialized training. In addition, these facilities may offer activity-based patient programs designed specifically for memory care patients. Many units also include secured exits for the safety of patients who may become disoriented and attempt to leave, as well as visual cues that make it easier for patients to navigate their surroundings.

The Alzheimer‘s Association suggests that when researching and visiting Memory Care or Special Care Unit options, you should ask for a special care unit disclosure form. This form is required for state licensing purposes in order for a facility’s unit to qualify as a Memory Care Unit or Special Care Unit. Requirements vary from state to state, and the disclosure form will detail what specific plans and procedures are in place for the facility to qualify as a Special Care or Memory Care Unit.

At Brownstein & Nguyen, we have years of experience dealing with the difficult legal situations and medical complications that arise in cases of nursing home neglect and elder abuse, including those involving patients suffering from memory loss or dementia. Call or contact us today so that we can help you.

The Affordable Care Act and Whistleblower Lawsuits

Qui Tam Whistleblower ClaimsThe stated goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” is to make healthcare affordable for the general public. With healthcare spending in the U.S in 2013 totaling $3 billion dollars, and projected to rise 6% annually, one can understand that healthcare costs are quite burdensome for individuals, families, and businesses.

While the ACA as a whole has received much media attention, one important aspect of the act has not. This portion of the law involves the enhancement of the False Claims Act (FCA) by which qui tam or whistleblower lawsuits are brought by individuals. These lawsuits bring fraudulent billing and other false claims in the healthcare industry to light. The FCA enables the government, with the help of private whistleblowers, to recover significant dollars that were fraudulently claimed as healthcare expenses. In 2013, some $2.6 billion was recovered from healthcare fraud cases.

While qui tam or whistleblower cases may be risky, whistleblowers do have an incentive to come forward with information regarding false claims and fraud against the government. Whistleblowers can receive 15-30% of what the government is able to recover as a result of a qui tam or whistleblower lawsuit. In 2013, FCA whistleblowers received $345 in incentive awards. This financial incentive is necessary to encourage private individuals to come forward, often at great personal sacrifice and expense, with information that helps taxpayers recoup billions of dollars lost annually to healthcare fraud, and to help ensure that fraud is minimized in these cases.

For more information regarding false claims and other fraudulent conduct the FCA prohibits healthcare facilities, providers, and drug manufacturers from engaging in, take a look at the The Affordable Care Act and Qui Tam Whistleblower Claims. This concise article, co-authored by Atlanta attorney Jay Brownstein, is quite informative on the topic.