Everything You Need to Know About H-1B Visas in 2022

H1b visa season is quickly approaching! Here are some key things you need to know about the H1b visa program.

News Update: Oliver-Zhang Law is now offering FREE service for the electronic registration process (typically $450 dollars) if you retain us for your H1-B application. If you are not selected in the lottery, your attorney fee will be returned in full.

H1b visas are temporary work permits that allow individuals with special skills and education to work in the United States for up to three years; however, extensions may be granted. The minimum requirements are a bachelor’s degree and specialized skills. There are three H1b visa designations: Specialty Occupations (jobs with specialized responsibilities requiring expert knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in a related field), DOD Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models. An eligible employer (“petitioner”) must sponsor the prospective worker (“beneficiary.”). One of the benefits of this program is that spouses and children of H1b visa holders may accompany the beneficiary.

The Cap:

A unique aspect of this visa program is the “Cap.” Each fiscal year, the federal government sets
aside 65,000 new H1b visas for eligible candidates. An additional 20,000 visas are reserved for
individuals with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution. USCIS also created a cap
exemption for individuals employed by an institute of higher education or an affiliated nonprofit entity; a nonprofit research organization; or a government research organization.

Registration and Lottery:

Since the government only issues a limited number of H1b visas, candidates are subject to the
visa “lottery.” This lottery is akin to a raffle that is essentially broken down into two phases: Advanced-degree candidates and remaining registrants. In 2020, USCIS streamlined H1b procedures by implementing an Electronic Pre-Registration process. Under this new system, petitioners must first register online and pay the $10 fee for each beneficiary. Next, USCIS randomly selects participants from the online registries.

One of the greatest advantages to this new system is that only basic information about the
prospective petitioner and worker is needed. Prior to 2020, petitioners were required to submit
complete petitions before the lottery draw. Now, petitions are submitted after the lottery
selection, saving participants time and money.

H1b Application:

Putting together your petition packet is a crucial endeavor. If you are selected to participate in the H1b program, you will need to complete these three general steps:

1. For specialty occupation and fashion models, the petitioner must submit and receive a Labor Condition Application certified by the Department of Labor.

2. The petitioner must complete and submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

3. For beneficiaries outside the U.S., you will need to apply for a visa and/or admission. The beneficiary may apply with the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad. Prospective H1b workers, regardless of whether a visa is required, must apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for admission to the U.S. under the H1b

There are many benefits to the H1b visa program. If you have questions about H1b visa procedures, contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers today for a free immigration consultation. At Oliver-Zhang Law, our employment immigrations lawyers are committed to providing you with quality immigration help.



Meiwah Reopening- Coronavirus and the Immigrant Population

Dear Friends,
Great news, Meiwah is reopening today!  Like so many local businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19, particularly Asian restaurants, Meiwah Restaurant in Chevy Chase had stopped operating in April.  Larry La, the owner of the restaurant, is a Vietnamese-Chinese refugee who arrived in the US decades ago.  For nearly 20 years, the restaurant has stood as a symbol of hard-won American dream in our community.  For us immigration lawyers, it is a source of pride, inspiration, and affirmation that those whom we help can go on to make such important and wonderful contributions to America.  Here are two articles about Meiwah and the devastating domino effect coronavirus has had on a chain of businesses:   

Meiwah is reopening today for pick-up orders at 301-652-9882, and delivering via Doordash.com and Ubereats.com.  

Asian restaurants are commonly employers for a struggling immigrant population. They have also been the undeserved targets for discrimination during this crisis.  I hope that everyone will help spread the word and try to order food and support these local businesses in our communities as much as we can.  They truly need our help!  

Thank you all!  And please stay well. 

~ Julie Oliver-Zhang, Managing Partner of Oliver-Zhang Law

Zantac Recall Cancer Lawsuit Update

Zantac Recall Cancer Lawsuit Update, April 3, 2020:

By Julie Oliver-Zhang, Esq. and Rachel Wei, Esq.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on April 1, 2020 that it is requesting manufacturers to immediately withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) ranitidine drugs, commonly known as Zantac, from the market. A contaminant known as N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine medications is a probable human carcinogen. The FDA found that NDMA in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures. This results in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this carcinogenic impurity. Disturbingly, new FDA testing confirmed that the carcinogenic NDMA levels increase in ranitidine even under normal storage conditions

On February 10, 2020, 15 Zantac lawsuit plaintiffs have been transferred to South District of Florida court, where a multidistrict litigation (MDL) has been filed on behalf of individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer subsequent to taking Zantac and similar ranitidine products. According to the transfer order, which was approved by federal judges, there are currently 126 cases pending in 21 districts nationwide. The Zantac lawsuit MDL currently consists both of individual plaintiffs alleging personal injury and punitive damage class action lawsuits.

Oliver-Zhang Law is representing clients nationwide who were diagnosed with cancer after exposure to Zantac. Please contact our Zantac attorneys at [email protected], or 202-643-1110 to see if you are eligible to claim compensation for your cancer injuries in the ongoing Zantac cancer litigation.

ACTOS Bladder Cancer Settlement Alert

U.S. Supreme Court Justices 2015

Gay Marriage Legal In America – Has LGBT Equality in Same-sex Immigration been Achieved through Obergefell v. Hodges?

By Julie Oliver-Zhang, Esq., Amanda Utterback, Esq., and April Siruno

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, and, in one ruling, made the LGBT right to marry the law of the land. All states must now issue marriage certificates to all American citizens seeking a life-time union, regardless of their sexual orientation. It is a landmark victory for the LGBT community and its allies that has been hard fought for decades. The legal history of same-sex marriage equality has been a long and rocky road, with inconsistent results in appellate courts from state to state.

Many commentators are glossing over just how close the LGBT community came to losing this war. After the pride parades and the celebrations that rang around the nation have simmered down, let’s not forget that the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of equal rights in gay marriage. 5 to 4 is by no means a landslide.

While many same-sex marriage advocates may feel the sense of emptiness that one does on the last line of a great novel, this decision merely leads to another chapter in the struggle for LGBT equality. Slavery was abolished in 1865, but Jim Crow laws lasted until 1965 and beyond. Women were allowed to vote in 1920, and yet, in 2015, only 20% of the United States Congress is female.

There is still much work to be done.

While our children may grow up in an America where same-sex marriage is matter of law, we still must confront frequent discrimination in the administration of law. Case in point, just three days after the Obergefell decision, the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, declared that if a county clerk or a public official has “religious objections” to issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples, they are entitled to deny such issuance.

The frightening fact is that people like Paxton are in positions of power.  They are the decision-makers, or the legal authority, in deciding whether to grant a government benefit, a job, or an adopted baby to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people.

In immigration cases, for example, results for same-sex couples may differ from similarly-situated heterosexual couples depending on variations in personal and social values. Typically, the evidence of a good faith marriage, required in every marriage green card application, includes a couples’ illustrious dating history, or big weddings filled with familial love and acceptance. Where many gays and lesbians are still closeted because they fear rejection, discrimination, or even violence, how are same-sex couples supposed to produce comparable evidence of a good faith marriage? The reality is that the societal standards applied for assessing what a “real marriage” looks like remains skewed by traditional assumptions.

Another example involves those LBGT individuals in long-term relationships who are residing in this country illegally. Had the laws been different, they could have married their U.S. citizen partners and received a green card many years ago like any heterosexual couple. Although they are now are able to marry nationwide, immigration laws still present significant obstacles that would require the gay alien spouse threatened with removal from this country to submit an I-601 or I-601A waiver. Essentially, in order to cure their inadmissibility and ineligibility for a green card, this waiver must overcome the high bar that their U.S. citizen spouse would experience “extreme hardship” if the couple were forced to separate.

In terms of immigration, there are only 20 countries that recognize same-sex marriage. LGBT immigrants come to the United States to avail themselves to the protection of our civil liberties. Yet, for those who are filing for a same-sex green card, many are nervous about being judged based upon their sexual identity, rather than the strength of their spousal relationship. As such, can we really say that, as a nation, we truly have reached immigration equality?

To combat these specialized issues, same-sex immigration attorneys should focus on obtaining the highest-level of evidence and proof necessary to help the LGBT community truly achieve equal and fair results in their applications for green cards, asylum, visas, and other immigration benefits. While Obergefell is a historical case in the right direction, we understand the heavy burden in same-sex immigration. We assume that all things are not equal, just yet.

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Supreme Court Decides to Clean House on LGBT Right to Marry: Immigration Equal Rights to Same-Sex Couples May Soon Be Nationwide

A house divided against itself cannot stand.“~ Abraham Lincoln

A historical transformation is upon us.  On January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court granted review to a string of state decisions in United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  The Sixth Circuit decided that several states’ prohibitions on same-sex marriage are legal.  Those states include Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan.

Three months ago, in October of 2014, the Supreme Court did just the opposite.  It denied review to those states that insisted on their bans against same-sex marriage, whose bans were held to be illegal by the courts in their own states.  By doing so, the Supreme Court effectively endorsed the state court decisions striking down such bans as unconstitutional.  For decades now, since Bower v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas, up to United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), the highest Court of the United States struggled with the issue of gay rights; it had conservatively indicated that the gay right to marry is a choice that lies with the individual states.

In DeBower v. Snyder, the Sixth Circuit exploited Supreme Court’s reluctance to decide on this issue by citing Windsor and stating: “Respect for democratic control over this traditional area of state expertise ensures that ‘a statewide deliberative process that enable[s] its citizens to discuss and weigh arguments for and against same-sex marriage’ can have free and reasonable rein.”

Certainly, by denying review in the cases that upheld gay marriage, the Supreme Court had likely hoped that the rest of the states would fall in line. However, the Sixth Circuit’s renegade decision has created a circuit-split that has brought the LGBT right to marry to the proverbial bridge that must be crossed.

Practically, if the Sixth Circuit decision is allowed to stand, it would divide the country into gay-marriage legal and gay-marriage banned states.  Thus, a LGBT couple can have a valid same-sex marriage in California with all the ensuing rights, but lose all the state-regulated rights, like medical disclosure or step-parental rights if they moved to Tennessee.  In terms of LGBT immigration, this divide creates an untenable and flawed work-around, where a same-sex couple who reside in a state that has banned gay marriage must go and marry in a state that has legalized gay marriage before they can apply for federal benefits such as a green card.

However, by deciding to review DeBower v. Snyder, the Supreme Court has finally chosen to take a position on this issue.  Logically, as the Court had just endorsed the states court decisions that held in favor of the equal protection of gay marriage by denying review, it needed to do nothing more if it simply means to defer to the majority-rule or court decisions in each state.  By agreeing to review the decision, we anticipate that Supreme Court intends to mend the divide and mandate an America that consistently recognizes the same-sex right to marry as a fundamental, constitutional right of a citizen.

Historically, this is the potentially the greatest leap in civil rights since Loving v. Virginia in 1967 that upheld desegregation in interracial marriages.

Supreme Court Denies Review of National Gay Marriage Equality- Foreign Immigrant Same-Sex Spouses Now Free to Marry in Five More States  

By Julie Oliver-Zhang, Esq. & Amanda Utterback, J.D.

On Tuesday, October 6th, 2014, a historical moment for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals came to pass in America. The United States Supreme Court voted to not review the seven petitions requesting the consideration of a national constitutional right to same-sex marriage. This refusal by the Court to second-guess the state courts’ rulings striking down bans on gay marriage as violations of equal rights now permits gay and lesbian couples to marry legally in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Significantly, the new law in these states also expands the immigration options for the global LGBT community. After yesterday’s decision by the Court, same-sex spouses and fiancé or fiancées from other countries can now apply for an American green card or non-immigrant visa after getting married in 24 states and the District of Columbia with legalized gay marriage.

Specifically, thirteen states have now legalized same-sex marriage through court decisions (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin); eight through legislation (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia); and three have legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote (Maine, Maryland, and Washington).

Currently, gay marriage equality is still in limbo in seven states, pending state court appeals (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, and Texas). We hope to soon add these states to the list of jurisdictions that will welcome foreign immigrant same-sex spouses.

Because the status of gay marriage is still uncertain in these seven limbo states, our recommendation is that gay couples should get married in one of the above 24 states in order to ensure access to the new, available federal immigration benefits. The new laws can help even those undocumented or illegal gay, lesbian, and transgender immigrants who have been deprived of legal status for years. Those who have entered the United States illegally or overstayed their visas can legalize their status through a good-faith marriage to a U.S. citizen, if they receive appropriate I-601 waivers that forgive various types inadmissibility.

As new laws and legal issues regarding gay immigration rights continue to evolve, the LGBT attorneys at Oliver-Zhang Law are able to assist in legalizing same-sex immigration status.  Please contact us today for a free consultation.

Supreme Court May Consider National Gay Marriage Equality – What Does This Mean For Foreign Immigrant Same-Sex Spouses?

By Julie Oliver-Zhang, Esq. & Amanda Utterback, J.D.

Next week, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether it will weigh in on the validity of a national constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  While the implications of this decision for gays and lesbians in America are immediately apparent, it is also important to understand its significance to the global LGBT community.

Currently, a minority of states recognize legal gay marriage.  This dramatically limits the immigration options for LGBT clients.  For instance, same-sex spouses from other countries are unable to apply for a green card or non-immigrant visas in America, unless the couple was married in one of the 19 states, the District of Columbia, or a foreign country that recognize same-sex marriages.

Specifically, eight states have legalized same-sex marriage through court decisions (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania); eight through legislation (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia); and three have legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote (Maine, Maryland, and Washington).

However, even if the Supreme Court decides on Monday to not review any of the five marriage equality cases requesting certiorari, Lyle Denniston, advisor at the National Constitution Center, notes that the silent assent would increase the number of states recognizing legal same-sex marriage from 19 to 30 states.  This would broaden the accessibility  and availability of federal immigration benefits to more international gay and lesbian fiancés and spouses.

But, the Supreme Court’s potential refusal to review the cases can prolong the denial of fundamental rights to gays and lesbians, such as the parental rights to step-children, immigration benefits, or simply being allowed on the same lease.  LGBT supporters agree that the simple act of delaying a consistent legal standard on gay marriage causes real harm to gay couples.

The Supreme Court has a chance to end the prejudicial bans on legal same-sex marriage in states that continue to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender couples.  One of the global consequences of the Court recognizing a national constitutional right to marriage equality would be that same-sex couples across America will finally be able to enjoy the same immigration benefits afforded to all other American citizens, without having to decide which state they must travel to in order for the federal government to recognize their marriage and issue the foreign spouse a green card if their home state is not a same-sex marriage state.

As new laws and legal issues regarding gay immigration rights continue to evolve, the LGBT attorneys at Oliver-Zhang Law are able to assist in legalizing same-sex immigration status.  Please contact us today for a free consultation.

Same-Sex Marriage, New Laws, and Homophobia: Idaho, Arkansas, and Michael Sam

Image via Flickr gomattolson/CC-by-nc-sa

Image via Flickr gomattolson/CC-by-nc-sa

By Julie Oliver-Zhang, Esq.

Is American law ready to be homophobia free? We see the indicators of social mores in the laws of a nation and its popular culture.

The United District Court for the District of Idaho held on May 13, 2014 that the ban on same-sex marriage in Idaho is unconstitutional. As the newest addition to a series of judicial decisions overturning state laws that ban gay marriages, the Idaho ruling began with a vindicated quote from Justice Blackmun, who dissented in Bower v. Hardwick that outlawed sodomy in Texas in 1986:

It is precisely because the issue raised by this case touches the heart of what makes individuals what they are that we should be especially sensitive to the rights of those whose choices upset the majority.

— The Honorable Harry Blackmun

Idaho Federal Magistrate Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale urged:

The Plaintiffs are entitled to extraordinary remedies because of their extraordinary injuries. Idaho’s Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted. By doing so, Idaho’s Marriage Laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.

Gay rights activists are buzzing as this is the second court decision in the month of May to strike down a state’s constitutional amendment restricting legal marriage to a man and a woman. On May 9, 2014, the Circuit Court Judge of Pulaski County, Arkansas eloquently compared the ban on same-sex marriages to the once-outlawed interracial marriages in the 1960’ and ordered the revocation of the state’s same-sex marriage ban:

The difference between opposite-sex and same-sex families is within the privacy of their homes. . . . It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.

The opponents call these judges “judicial activists”, a derogatory term in the legal profession to denounce judges who ignore the democratic, legislative process and make laws of their own despite the mandated votes of the majority.

The celebration seemed short-lived in Arkansas, as counties have all stopped issuing marriage license to gay couples after speaking with county attorneys representing the position that the ruling did not address a separate state law that prohibits county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In terms of LGBT immigration, this threw cold water on the same-sex couples in the “bible-belt” vicinity who watched 450 gay couples receive permission to marry in the last week. These same-sex couples who intended to apply for legal green card status through family immigration thought that they too can apply for a valid marriage license in Arkansas and become legally married. Now, much like a repeat of what occurred in Utah earlier this year, where nearly a thousand marriage licenses were granted before county clerks were barred from continuing to do so, the legal status of gay marriages in Arkansas is in limbo.

However, as United States Attorney General Eric Holder had announced earlier in the year, the federal government firmly supports the equal rights of LGBT families. It is most likely that Attorney General Holder will direct the Department of Homeland Security and the USCIS to recognize those same-sex couples who were validly married in Arkansas and issue immigration benefits accordingly.

Also in the news is Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL, who kissed his boyfriend on national TV. The NFL is arguably the most machismo institution in American sports; drafting an openly gay player is progress that cannot be understated. Even so, following the broadcast, former Super Bowl champion Derrick Ward tweeted: “Man U got little kids lookin at the draft. I can’t believe ESPN even allowed that to happen.” These are some signs of our popular culture that highlight the rejection of the LGBT community, currently embodied in the unequal state marriage laws.

What does the same-sex marriage rulings in Arkansas and Idaho have in common with Michael Sam’s kiss?  The judges’ persuasions in law and those who believe the televised kiss is a step in the right direction in our popular culture are appealing to the sensibilities of the American public to stop averting our gazes from gay and lesbian relationships, and to give their love equal validation and standing. The conservative backlash in law and popular culture from the vestiges of discrimination is resound, though it certainly will find reconciliation with time as with any outdated prejudices. The judges are not simply attempting to deal with hard letters of the law, but speaking directly to the heart of the American public’s way of thinking about gays and lesbians as simply people, rather than a class of persons who somehow deserve to be bullied and shamed by the community. We will know that we have achieved equality and become a more humane society when Michael Sam’s kiss is no more than a sweet moment of celebration with family, and the Supreme Court holds consistently with Windsor in revoking the state bans against same-sex marriages as unconstitutional.

Eighteen jurisdictions, including 17 states and the District of Columbia have currently legalized same-sex marriage: Six states have legalized same-sex marriage through court decisions (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Mexico); eight through legislation (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia); and three have legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote (Maine, Maryland, and Washington).

Nine states with court decisions revoking same-sex marriage bans based on unconstitutionality are pending review of the United States Supreme Court, including: Utah, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arkansas, Idaho, Michigan, and Ohio.

This brings a total of 27 jurisdictions that have shown legal support for same-sex marriage, over half of the United States.


Super Lawyers Names Julie Oliver-Zhang as Top Attorney and Rising Star in Washington Post Magazine


June 12, 2014
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Super Lawyers Names Julie Oliver-Zhang as Top Attorney and Rising Star in Washington Post Magazine

WASHINGTON – Julie Oliver-Zhang has been named by Super Lawyers in the Washington Post Magazine as one of the 2014 Top Attorneys and Rising Stars. Ms. Oliver-Zhang was recognized by peers for excellence in the legal community, and impressive records of professional achievements and ethical standards. Rising Stars are among the finest attorneys who are either 40 or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less.

Ms. Oliver-Zhang was the only Chinese-American partner to receive the coveted 2014 Rising Star, Top Attorney award with practice areas in immigration, personal injury, and medical malpractice. Less than 2.5 percent of attorneys in the Washington D.C. Metro area receive the Rising Star award, with Ms. Oliver-Zhang as one of only four others recognized under immigration law.

“What sets her apart and sets her above is her determination. I feel deeply sorry for any obstacle that gets in the way of this irresistible force. As my protégée, I am very happy that I will never have to litigate against her.”

– Ellen Sue Shapiro, former Senior Litigation Counsel of the Justice Department, Civil Division

“I often marvel at her kind, empathetic approach to addressing every client’s needs. Her talents led her to resolve landmark cases against the biggest drug companies in America.”

– Justin D. Gillenwater, Immigration Attorney and former Member of the Board of Director for OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Greater Houston

As Founder and Managing Partner of Oliver-Zhang Law, Ms. Oliver-Zhang provides exceptional legal services from personal injury to same-sex marriage immigration cases, which have seen growing demand. Ms. Oliver-Zhang has successfully represented clients in pharmaceutical product liability, personal injury, family immigration and same-sex marriage green cards, asylum, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), child custody, domestic violence cases, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). As a native Mandarin-Chinese speaker, she has a special interest in representing those without legal access due to language barriers.

Ms. Oliver-Zhang commented: “I am deeply honored to receive these awards along with such a stellar group of leaders in the legal profession. Oliver-Zhang Law is here to fight for our clients’ best interests, no matter how great the challenge. As a first-generation immigrant, I learned to work hard, be empathetic, cherish the relationships you build, and take every opportunity to succeed. Our practice is centered on dedication to client care, communication, and service; we are fierce about doing everything in our power to accomplish our clients’ goals.”

Thompson Reuters produces the Super Lawyers rating service of outstanding lawyers in over 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Lawyers serves as a resource and method for consumers when researching legal representation.

Oliver-Zhang Law was founded in 2013 and built upon the drive to remedy injustice and help those in need. Practice areas include personal injury, immigration, LGBT immigration, medical malpractice, FCPA, and Chinese document review. Please visit www.oliverzhanglaw.com for more information.


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