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Living Under the H-1B Cap – Alternative Visa Options and Strategies for Employing Foreign Nationals in the U.S. 

March 1, 2012

The H-1B visa is commonly known as the “workhorse” of U.S. work visas as U.S. companies rely on it more than any other visa to employ foreign workers in the U.S. The H-1B visa is available to employers who want to hire a professional foreign national worker with at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (or its equivalent in work experience) for a job which requires a degree in that field (also known as a specialty occupation) and the employer can demonstrate that it will be paying at least the prevailing wage to the foreign employee.

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Doing Business in Brazil

December 1, 2011

Everyone who has followed events in Brazil over the years has heard year after year that the country was on the verge of emerging as an international economic powerhouse. While it took a while for Brazil to finally emerge, it is certainly the case today that it has arrived, and U.S. manufacturers looking for new markets can no longer have serious aspirations in Latin America without having a Brazil strategy. Why is Brazil so important to U.S. businesses looking for markets for their products? Look at its current standing in the world:

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America Invents Act

October 1, 2011

The most significant revamping of United States patent law in the last 50 years was enacted on September 16, 2011, with President Obama’s signature of the America Invents Act. The Act, which will be implemented over the next 18 months, changes the procedures for obtaining new patents and provides new tools for challenging existing patents. Small businesses need to understand the changing patent laws to adequately manage their intellectual property rights and liabilities. Some of the most important changes to the patent laws are examined below.

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Benefit Plans: 2012 COLAs

October 1, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the 2012 cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retirement plans. Most of the limits related to retirement plans are increased.

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NLRB Poster on Employee Rights Now Available for Download

September 1, 2011

As we reported previously in our September FredNEWS, effective November 14, 2011 most employers will be required to post a Notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

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Wellness Programs – A Complex Cure

September 1, 2011

Employee wellness programs have become increasingly popular as employers seek to control health insurance costs, improve the health and productivity of their workers, and reduce absenteeism. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits 2010 Annual Survey, approximately three-fourths of employers offering health benefits already provide some type of wellness program.

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IRS Issues Clarifications to Internal Revenue Code § 162(m)

September 1, 2011

Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 162(m) imposes a $1 million deduction limit on compensation paid by a public corporation to certain executive officers. However, an exception applies to “qualified performance-based compensation,” which does not count against the deduction limit. Stock options may qualify for this exception if certain conditions are met, one of which is to specify a limit on the stock option grants. The Internal Revenue Service recently issued proposed regulations that clarify that the stock option plan must specify the maximum number of shares that may be granted to any individual employee during a specified period. If the plan merely states an aggregate maximum number of shares that may be granted during a specified period, and does not contain a specific per-employee limit, stock options will not qualify for the exception.

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SEC Will Not Appeal Proxy Access Decision

September 1, 2011

On September 6, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirmed that it will not seek a rehearing of the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) that vacated an SEC rule, commonly known as the “proxy access” rule, that would have enabled certain shareholders of public companies to propose director nominees for inclusion in their company’s proxy materials. The SEC also confirmed that it will not seek Supreme Court review of the decision.

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Update on the Ever-developing Landscape of Shareholder Proposals

September 1, 2011

On September 15, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a final rule to adopt amendments to the proxy access rules for shareholder proposals in Rule 14a-8, which was discussed in our September 2011 issue of FredNEWS: Corporate & Securities. In a related action, on September 27, 2011, the SEC published an amended Form 8-K that includes a new Item 5.08 requiring, in certain circumstances, companies to disclose applicable deadlines for shareholders to submit proxy access proposals. On November 17, 2011, Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc. (ISS) published its 2012 Corporate Governance Policy Updates and Process Executive Summary, which refined how it will address proxy access, among other policy changes.

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Cities Are Back in the Variance Business: Legislature Removes Roadblock to Variance Applications by Making Much-Needed Changes to Variance Statutes

August 1, 2011

In 1989, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued its decision in Rowell v. Board of Adjustment of Moorhead. In this decision, the Court of Appeals adopted an interpretation of Minnesota’s municipal variance statute that provided a flexible, owner-friendly standard for cities to use when evaluating variance applications. Following the Rowell decision, business was good for those applying for variances. While not every variance was granted under the standard adopted in Rowell, the standard was sufficiently lenient that variances became a tool that owners and developers routinely used to obtain approvals for their projects and developments.

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