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In a speech addressing the COVID-19 virus, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday night that he is suspending travel from Europe in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The White House issued a presidential proclamation shortly thereafter that restricts foreign nationals who have been physically present in the Schengen Area from entering the U.S.

The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

People who are thinking about applying to naturalize as a U.S. citizen may want to fast track their decision. USCIS announced a series of changes in filing fees which, if approved, would take effect in 2020. Among the fee changes, naturalization applications will seeing the highest increase from $725 to $1,255 (including biometrics).

If you have had your green card for at least five years, you may be eligible to naturalize if you have physically resided in the U.S. for at least half (2.5 years) of the preceding 5 years. Any trips outside of the U.S. for more than 6 consecutive months may break the continuous residency requirement unless you can prove that you were domiciled in the U.S. Any trips outside the U.S. for more than 12 consecutive months will definitely break the requirement.

If you obtained your green card through marriage, you may be eligible to naturalize after you’ve been married for 3 years and have had your green card for 3 years. You must also meet the continuous residency requirement – in this case, 1.5 years in the preceding 3 years. If it has been fewer than 5 years since you got your green card and you are naturalizing based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, you will also have to provide proof that you are still married.

US Citizenship & Immigration Services released a new version of Form I-9.  The new form bears a revision date of 10/21/2019.  Prior versions of the I-9 form are not authorized.  Employers have until April 30, 2020 to use the new version of the form.  To avoid unnecessary complications in the event of an ICE audit, employers should destroy blank copies of the old version of the I-9 form and distribute the new form for use immediately.

 

Employers use Form I-9 to verify their employees’ employment authorization in the United States.  Employers and employees must complete Form I-9, and employees must supply documents establishing their right to work in the United States by the third day of employment.  eVerify is not a substitute for this requirement.  Employers that participate in eVerify must also complete Form I-9.  Although USCIS publishes a Spanish language version of the I-9, the Spanish version is only authorized for use in Puerto Rico.  All other employers must use the English Language version of the form.

If you have any questions regarding this update, or any other immigration matter, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lubiner Schmidt & Palumbo LLC at (908) 709-0500 or info@lslawyers.com.

On January 30, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin implementing the new public charge regulations on February 24, 2020. The regulations broadly expand the list of public benefits that can be considered, as well as the discretion given to immigration officers when deciding whether someone is “more likely than not” to become a public charge.

The rule was originally scheduled to take effect on October 15, 2019 but was blocked by nationwide injunctions filed by several federal judges across the country. The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in favor of the Trump administration to allow implementation of the regulations while legal challenges play out in the lower courts. The public charge rule will not be applied in the State of Illinois where a statewide injunction is still in place.

The public charge rule applies to certain adjustment of status (also known as green cards) applicants, as well as non-immigrants seeking to change their status or extend their stay. USCIS will apply the new standards to applications or petitions that are postmarked on or after February 24, 2020.

ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH N.J.S.A. 2C 20-11 SHOPLIFTING IN EDISON? A LAWYER CAN HELP YOU AVOID A CRIMINAL RECORD.

If you are arrested for shoplifting in Edison, you should consult with the experienced Edison shoplifting lawyers at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo. New Jersey has some of the toughest shoplifting laws in the country. If you are facing shoplifting prosecution in Edison, you can expect that the store and local police will vigorously pursue conviction. If convicted, the criminal charges can result in a fine, time spent in jail and a criminal record. Edison’s Menlo Park Mall, and other national chain stores in Edison such as TJ Maxx, Target and Walmart, draw a significant number of shoppers to the town – and with them, shoplifters.

The Edison shoplifting attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo can represent you and protect your rights.

Northridge Holdings and Glenn Mueller recently released a letter to investors acknowledging the complaints and the cease and desist orders from four states as well as an investigation from the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The letter states that while the complaints and orders from state securities agencies are pending, Northridge can no longer make interest payments or distributions to investors.

As expressed in a previous article posted by the securities attorneys of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo, Northridge has received complaints, as well as cease and desist orders from the four aforementioned state securities agencies as well as the SEC. The complaints charge Northridge with selling unregistered securities in addition to acting as an unregistered broker dealer. Northridge presented itself in marketing material as being exempt from federal registration requirements for securities, however they never filed any of the necessary forms for exemption with any state securities agency or the SEC.

The recent announcement of a stop to distributions and interest payments will have a devasting impact on retired investors relying on the interest payments from Northridge to cover living expenses. In addition, investors who were set to have their principal or total investment returned to them on the maturity date listed on their promissory notes will have to wait now for an indefinite period of time.

The New Jersey State Attorney Generals recent press release pertaining to Northridge made one thing absolutely clear. New Jersey was taking the sale of unregistered securities to investors or acting and an unregistered agent marketing the sale of securities as a top priority. The securities law firm of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo has been tracking on the actions of Northridge securities for some time in connection with an unrelated matter with similar allegations, such as sale of unregistered securities. As stated in our post on Northridge, New Jersey along with the states of Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are filing complaints in connection with Northridge and its sale of unregistered securities.
The state actions against Northridge of course leads to the obvious question of what qualifies as a “security” under the New Jersey uniform securities laws. Do all real estate deals have to be registered as securities or can exemptions to registration be used? First to define a security, pursuant to Title 49 Chapter 3 subsection 49(m) – N.J.S.A. 49:3-49(m) for short, security means any note; stock; treasury stock; bond; debenture; evidence of indebtedness; certificate of interest or participation in any profit-sharing agreement, including, but not limited to, certificates of interest or participation in real or personal property. There is no bright line rule for determining whether an instrument is a security under the New Jersey Uniform Securities Law. Whether a particular investment constitutes a security depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The term “security” has been interpreted broadly, encompassing unusual financial instruments as well as these commonly considered to be securities. Federal and state definitions of “securities” include the term “investment contract.” The definition of an investment contract is “an investment of money in a common enterprise, with an expectation of profits based solely on the efforts of the promoter” (Securities and Exchange Commission v. W.J. Howey Co., 328 U.S. 293—1946). Under the Howey Test as it is known, State examiners look to whether investors are investing money in a common venture with the expectation of profits based solely on promoters’ efforts. A major factor is the degree of control and authority retained by the investors over the joint venture. A review of the joint venture agreement indicating that substantial authority was retained by the investors may lead to the offering as being considered exempt from registration. General Partnerships are a prime example of this and are usually held not covered under the securities laws. This is because general partnerships usually consist of entrepreneurs, not investors, who have the ability to take care of their own interests because of the inherent powers available to them. General partners may act on behalf of the partnership, can bind their partners by their actions, may dissolve the partnership and are personally liable for all liabilities of the partnership. There are, however, instances in which even a general partnership interest may be considered a security. Whether a general partner’s or joint venture’s interest may be considered a security is a fact sensitive inquiry.
With the determination that Northridge was marketing unregistered securities the state of New Jersey in its complaint is seeking civil monetary penalties and other remedies against the firm. Imposition of civil monetary penalties against Northridge pursuant to NJSA 49:3-70.1 has been brought. As stated in the Northridge complaint, each sale of Northridge Securities to investors constitutes a cause for the imposition of civil monetary penalties for each separate violation. As stated in paragraph 1, of the complaint Northridge is looking at 62 separate violations for the sale of $10.46 million of Northridge to 62 individual New Jersey Investors. In addition to the penalities New Jersey is seeking restitution to each New Jersey Investor who purchased Northridge. New Jersey Bureau of Securities has also issued a cease and desist order against Northridge pursuant to its authority un N.J.S.A. 49:3—69(a). If you’re an investor who has purchased Northridge the securities lawfirm of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo please contact the lawfirm of Lubiner, Schmidt and Palumbo for a free consultation.

On January 29, 2019, the New Jersey State Attorney, Securities Fraud Prosecution Section filed a complaint for a civil action on behalf of the New Jersey Bureau of Securities in Mercer County Chancery Court alleging that Ford Graham, his wife Katherine Graham and several entities Ford Graham controlled participated in securities fraud relating to the sale of unregistered securities in purported oil and gas ventures. Media reports state that Graham, “with the active participation of his wife,” induced individuals in five states to invest close to $5 million with Graham’s LLCs in an alleged Ponzi Scheme.

The complaint alleges New Jersey natives invested $1.9 million with the LLCs in the Ponzi scheme. In connection with the fraudulent Ponzi scheme the New Jersey State Attorney General charged the Grahams with a the violation of the following under Title 49, Chapter 3 of the New Jersey Uniform Securities Laws:

1) N.J.S.A. 49:3-60 (offer and sale of unregistered securities)

The New Jersey Bureau of Securities recently entered into a Consent Order with LPL Financial. The broker dealer was found to have had poorly run supervisory procedures in place. Every broker dealer and securities firm in New Jersey has an obligation to establish reasonable policies and procedures to supervise and monitor the actions of the securities firm’s brokers and investment advisors. This lapse in adequate systems to supervise by the securities firm LPL, resulted in the sale of unregistered, non-exempt securities to LPL investors. According to the consent order the New Jersey Securities Bureau concluded that from October 1, 2006 to May 1, 2018 investment advisors marketed and sold unregistered securities to New Jersey Investors. The law firm of Lubiner Schmidt & Palumbo has written in the past on instances of securities fraud in connection with the sale of unregistered securities. One primary example of an unregistered security marketed to investors that turned out to be a securities fraud were Woodbridge Promissory Notes. These notes were marketed to investors as safe and secure investments that offered income and safety of the principal invested. In reality Woodbridge was a massive securities fraud operating as a Ponzi scheme.

The Attorney General and the NJ Bureau of Securities announced that LPL Financial had agreed per the terms of the Consent Order to a $499,000 civil penalty as well as a pledge to buy back any unregistered and non-exempt stock, bond or any other securities sold in New Jersey during the relevant time period by LPL investment advisors.

LPL also agreed to implement new supervisory procedures and compliance checks to prevent future sales and marketing of unregistered securities by investment advisors to New Jersey Investors. According to the consent order there were major deficiencies in the investment advisors compliance department.

On April 17, 2019 the New Jersey Bureau of Securities issued a proposal to require that retail broker dealers use the “fiduciary rule” in their dealings with customers. The rule proposal will also codify the fact that investment advisors already operate under the fiduciary rule. This will mean that in New Jersey brokers will have to put the interests of their clients first and not their commissions.

Imposition of the fiduciary standard on retail broker dealers has been a controversial topic nationwide for the past several years. The SEC staff has recommended to the Commission that the fiduciary rule be incorporated in federal securities laws. They have not been successful. Several years ago the Department of Labor passed regulations requiring that the fiduciary standard be applied to individual IRAs and 401(k) plans. However, a federal appeals court overturned those regulations in September 2018.

The SEC staff has now proposed to issue Regulation Best Interest in an effort to further enhance customer protection. However, in announcing its rule proposal, the Bureau of Securities stated that Regulation Best Interest does not go far enough in protecting investors.

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