Thursday, November 26, 2015

Small Business - USCIS Seeks Comments on Proposed Changes to Form I-9

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I do not usually place USCIS Regulation announcements up here. But the I-9 form is something that impacts every employer and many small business owners do not know enough about filling out the form. Because there can be significant penalties for incorrectly completing and maintaining employee I-9 forms, I think this notice is appropriate for posting. This may be a time when an owner of a small business might want to comment. Also, this is a great opportunity to raise awareness about a significant part of the hiring process that many owners consider "routine" and may not monitor as well as they should.

Direct from USCIS:
"USCIS published a notice in the Federal Register on Nov. 24, 2015, to inform the public of proposed changes to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The public may provide comments on the proposed changes for 60 days, until Jan. 25, 2015.

Many of the proposed changes to Form I-9 are intended to help reduce technical errors and help customers complete the form on their computer after they have downloaded it from For instance, the form:

  • Checks certain fields to ensure information is entered correctly;
  • Provides additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators;
  • Includes drop-down lists and calendars;
  • Provides instructions on the screen that users can access to complete each field;
  • Includes buttons that will allow users to access the instructions electronically, print the form and clear the form to start over;
  • Provides a dedicated area to enter additional information that employers are currently required to notate in the margins of the form; and
  • Will generate a quick-response matrix barcode, or QR code, once the form is printed and can be used to streamline audit processes.
Other proposed changes include:

  • Requiring employees to provide only other last names used in Section 1, rather than all other names used;
  • Streamlining the certification in Section 1 for certain foreign nationals; and
  • Separating the instructions from the form to bring the form in line with USCIS’ practices.

Submit a Comment

To view the proposed form and instructions, go to the Form I-9 notice at To submit a comment, enter USCIS-2006-0068 in the search box and click the “Comment Now!” button. After completing all the necessary fields, click “Submit Comment.”

After the 60-day period

After the 60-day period ends, USCIS may make changes to the form based on comments received and will publish a second notice in the Federal Register. The public will have an additional 30 days to provide comments on proposed changes. USCIS will notify the public about these comment periods on I-9 Central.

Which Form Should I Use?

Employers must complete Form I-9 for all newly hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States. The current version of Form I-9 is available on USCIS’ online I-9 resource center at Employers must continue to use the current version of Form I-9 until the Office of Management and Budget approves the proposed version and USCIS posts it on I-9 Central.
I-9 Central includes information about employer and employee rights and responsibilities, step-by-step instructions for completing the form, and information on acceptable documents for establishing identity and employment authorization. Subscribe to I-9 Central to receive updates and alerts."
As a side note on this issue, business owner and their HR professionals should know that dictating what documents your company will accept from the approved list on the I-9 form can be a violation of the law and result in fines. Any document or combination of documents as identified and allowed in the instructions on the I-9 form must be accepted. For instance, a company cannot determine it will only accept Passports and no other documents. That would be a violation.

Also, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can come into a company and check for I-9 compliance. A compliance inspection can happen as a result of an investigation due to an incident in the work place or as a random check as part of its general enforcement duties. It is wise for a company to do audits on its I-9's from time to time to make sure they are complete, current, and that it has not imposed illegal restrictions.

If you want to know more about Mark Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#BucksCounty #Immigration #lawyer #lawyers, #MontgomeryCounty #Souderton #LawFirm #smallbusiness

Sunday, November 22, 2015

USCIS Announces Addition of 16 Countries Eligible to Participate in the H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs

Direct from USCIS:

"USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State, have added Andorra, Belgium, Brunei, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, Singapore, Taiwan**, and Timor-Leste to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B Visa programs for the coming year...

The H-2A and H-2B Visa programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, respectively. Typically, USCIS only approves H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs. USCIS, however, may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries not on the list if it is determined to be in the interest of the United States." For a more complete list, see the USCIS announcement.
If you want to know more about Mark Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#BucksCounty #Immigration #lawyer #lawyers, #MontgomeryCounty #Souderton #LawFirm

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Does it matter what Bankruptcy does to your credit score?

Well ... does it matter? I guess it is the age old response, "it depends." One of the standard questions I get when I first meet new clients is, "What will this do to my credit score?" My response usually is, "What is your score now?" By the time people come to me, most of them already have severely damaged credit. My personal thought is the score no longer has a high priority at this point. 
I found this article - 3 Things Bankruptcy Does to Your Credit Score - and thought so what? The points the article makes are:

1. "Bankruptcy Causes Your Credit Score to Plummet ... It is one of the worst things you can do to your scores."  I do have clients that come to me and have kept their payments up to date so their score is high. But this is not the norm. Even if their scores are not affected, they cannot afford to take on anymore debt and they are crumbling under the debt they are carrying. Once a person gets beyond the point they can afford to pay his or her debt, significantly damaging his or her credit score is usually just a matter of time anyway.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
2. "A Bankruptcy on your Credit Report Causes Long-Term Damage ... Having bankruptcy information listed on your credit report will impact your credit for years." Late payments, missed payments, repossessions, judgments and foreclosures do to. Every month you make a late payment, you extend the bad debt on your report. These events may not be as bad as bankruptcy but they impact a person's ability to access credit all the same.

3. "The Negative Impact on your Credit Diminishes Over Time ... A year (or two or three) after the date a bankruptcy first appears on your credit report, its impact will shrink until eventually, the bankruptcy information is removed from your credit report altogether and is no longer a factor in your credit scores."  This is the key and purpose of bankruptcy. The idea is to break the trend and reset finances. Once the debtor files bankruptcy and hits the reset button, he or she needs to work and take deliberate steps to rebuild his or her credit. At this point, credit score and rebuilding it becomes a priority again. Bankruptcy is a long-term process.
Here are a couple more articles on rebuilding credit after Bankruptcy:

Rebuilding credit after Bankruptcy

When will I be able to buy a new home after bankruptcy?

You can overcome bankruptcy

Debt What?

If people truly have the resources to pay their debts and can protect their credit score, they probably should not be filing bankruptcy in the first place. For those who truly are in over their heads, I would argue credit scores are irrelevant because they cannot use the score and it will ultimately drop anyway.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Monday, November 16, 2015

Things to consider before the Fed raises rates ...

Just a quick article. Everyone is predicting that the Fed will raise interest rates next month. I came across this article that I thought was interesting:

Image courtesy of jscreationzs
5 moves to make before the Fed raises rates - Obviously, it talks about 5 things people should consider doing within the next month. Three of the suggestions relate to the work I do ... bankruptcy.

"Pay down credit card debt. If you can, pay down as much as possible, given that credit cards will start to hike their interest rates soon after the Fed makes its move, Schulz noted. "Even a small increase means money out of your pocket," he said.

Take advantage of zero-percent balance transfers. It's still easy to find these offers, so consider taking advantage of one now, especially if you can't quickly pay down your current credit card debt. If you're struggling to pay off your cards and have a high APR card, Schulz said, it could be time to think about one of these cards. Some of the best zero-percent balance transfer options include Slate from Chase and Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards, according to a new survey.

Refinance your mortgage. While mortgage rates are still near record lows -- and the Fed's boosting of short-term rates has only an indirect impact on long-term rates -- the Mortgage Bankers Association sees 30-year fixed mortgage rates rising to 4.5 percent next year and 5.2 percent in 2017. For homeowners with an adjustable-rate mortgage, it's an especially good time to consider refinancing into a fixed-rate loan."

These are the types of events that can drive people into my office. If you are paying the minimums of on your credit cards now, the slightest boost can put the payments beyond a person's reach. People who have been living on credit should evaluate their financial circumstance and plan for this change.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Bankruptcy - When is it a "good" time to file?

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When is it a good time ... the right time... to file for bankruptcy? I think this is probably one of the most important questions when preparing someone's case for  bankruptcy. Clients and attorneys need to look forward as well as in the past. This should be done as soon as someone realizes they are having financial trouble. This early review could give debtors options that can be missed by jumping too soon or waiting too long.

If a debtor files too early, I think an attorney may be setting their client up for problems down the road. Wait too long and a person can spend down savings and retirement money only prolonging a bankruptcy filing but not avoiding it ... or maybe wait long enough to miss qualifying for Chapter 7 and be forced into a Chapter 13 payment plan.

When clients come to me to discuss bankruptcy, I talk to them about their employment. If they are unemployed or hold a temporary position, I look for ways to delay filing without spending down assets. This is difficult since they are realizing they may not be able to pay new debts. I explore their prospects of new jobs and future financial plans with them. I want to help my clients prevent creating new debt after bankruptcy due to the lack of sufficient income.

Also, a review of the debtor's spending for the preceding 90 days is important. Some purchases can be presumed as fraudulent if a person files bankruptcy within 90 days of the purchase. While a creditor can still claim the same purchase was fraudulent after 90 days, waiting until 90 days have passed will remove the presumption. This is a better position for the debtor if the creditor challenges the discharge of that debt.

Problems with filing too late are more obvious. I cannot say how many of my clients have come to me after spending month and years trying to pay off debt before filing bankruptcy. Many times they have spent all their savings including their retirement funds. I recently met with a woman who spent her IRA  on debt, entered into a debt management plan, and made three years of payments. She managed to pay off three of her six credit cards before her bills overwhelmed her again. She is now three months behind on her mortgage. Now, she must chose between a Chapter 13 payment plan to keep her home or filing for Chapter 7 and giving up the house.

There is also a way to use Chapter 7 and then Chapter 13 but that is a topic for another blog article. The point is, after years of paying, it seems she is at the same point now as she was when she started the debt management plan three years ago. She may even be worse off. She is not the first person I worked with that has a similar story. There is no real way to know what would have happened if she filed three years ago but my thought is filing three years ago would have been better.

Besides spending money without any real benefit, a person who gets a new job with an increased salary can end up forced into filing under Chapter 13. Because he or she started earning an income above the median income, he or she can lose the option of filing under Chapter 7. If the person still needs bankruptcy protection, he or she will be forced to pay his or her remaining disposable income to unsecured creditors for five years.

I had another client who came to me and was fully employed after several years of illness and unemployment. He had built up significant debt. When he came to me, he was within a month of losing his eligibility to file for protection using Chapter 7. We filed his bankruptcy the last week of the month allowing him to use Chapter 7 and completing his case within months instead of years.

I had a third client who wasn't eligible to file for Chapter 7 protection because he was just over the median income but he was under-paying his child support. Once he was ordered to pay the appropriate child support, he dropped below the median income and made it through the "means" test. However, he was coming up on the time of the year he was eligible to receive his annual bonus, which was not a guaranteed figure.

But it didn't really matter because any amount would probably have placed my client over the median income again. By paying attention to past and future events, we were able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case between the different pay events.

Not all cases require such specific timing. But people cannot know about timing issues if they are not looking for them. The parties need to look forward as well as what has happened in the past. Don't wait until the last moment if you are having financial problems. Talk to someone early about all your options.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Friday, November 13, 2015

Small Business - still trying to figure out the Affordable Care Act?

As the presidential race heats up, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to be a key topic. But what ever happens the next election, small business owners will need to prepare for a reporting requirement starting in January 2016.

Image courtesy of stockimages
I found this article on the Lexology Blog during my daily reading and thought it might be helpful to other business owners:

"The Affordable Care Act (ACA): what employers need to know"

It offer an overview of the act and some of the key provisions for small business. It explains that a small employer is 2 - 50 "Full-Time Equivalent" (FTE) employees. To be an FTE employee a person either works 30hrs/week or 130hrs/month. The article links to a calculator to help employers calculate how many FTE employees they employ.

It also talks about reporting requirements, the insurance exchange set up for small business, and required disclosure to employees. If you are a small business owner and your accountant has been talking to you about ACA, this article may help you understand what he or she is talking about.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bankruptcy - who is the debtor? what is protected?

As we all hear and know, small businesses are the engine of our economy. As a result, there are many different business entity. One of the most common is a Limited Liability Company. This form of business protects the owner like a corporation but allows the owner to operate like a sole proprietor or a partnership. This can create an issue in a bankruptcy.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
The biggest question is who owns the asset and who owes the debt. As an LLC, the company can purchase real estate and equipment. If the LLC owns the assets and the owner owes the debt, the assets may be safe. The reverse, the LLC owes the debt and the owner owns the asset, will probably have the same result. What happens if the company owes the debt and owns the asset? That seems relatively simple; the assets are at risk.

But what can happen is the owner and LLC are so close to being a single entity that the owner fails to recognize he or she is not the direct owner of the company's assets. On the eve of a sheriff's sale, the owner files for bankruptcy protection to prevent the sale of the property.  Unfortunately, bankruptcy will probably not stop the sale. The owner cannot protect the LLC's property by filing for personal bankruptcy.

While this may seem obvious to some, this was an actual case discussed at a session in a recent bankruptcy conference I attended. One of the panelist was a creditor's attorney executing on a judgment. The owner filed for bankruptcy to protect the LLC's real property from a sheriff's sale the day before the sale. The property was sold the next day at the sale.

If a business owner is dealing with debt and bankruptcy seems to be an option, he or she must fully understand the ownership of the property at risk. And ownership may be more complex than anyone realizes. Failure to fully  understand ownership could result in an unsuccessful bankruptcy.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

USCIS - USCIS Updates Welcome Guide for New Immigrants

Direct from the USCIS Bulletin:
USCIS has published an updated Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants. The guide contains practical information to help new immigrants settle into everyday life in the United States, including how to find a place to live, how to get a Social Security number and how the U.S. system of government works.
Available in 14 languages, this publication has recently been updated to include:
  • Revised and updated general information on policies, programs and resources;
  • A refreshed layout and design;
  • A new chapter called “Taking Care of Your Money” on personal finance, taxes and financial scams; and
  • A new chapter called “Understanding Education and Health Care” on the education system, adult education programs and the health insurance marketplace.
Available languages:
Chinese (traditional)
Chinese (simplified)
Haitian Creole

You can download free copies in 14 languages on our website and purchase printed copies in English, Spanish and Chinese through the U.S. Government Bookstore.
If you want to know more about Mark Medvesky or Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#BucksCounty #Immigration #lawyer #lawyers, #MontgomeryCounty #Souderton #LawFirm