Authored by: Mohaimina Haque, Attorney & General Counsel. Immigration and Business law expert. Adjunct Law Professor. Interim CEO at Tony Roma’s.

How to start an LLC in DC has emerged as a popular business question among entrepreneurs in Washington DC. This surge in popularity can be attributed to the flexibility offered by LLCs, blending the benefits of both corporations and partnerships. They provide liability protection to owners while allowing for efficient tax treatment and operational flexibility.

The objective of this article is to guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the process of establishing an LLC in Washington, D.C. We aim to provide a comprehensive overview, shedding light on the key steps, requirements, and considerations to ensure your business journey in the district starts on a solid foundation.

Forming an LLC in Washington DC

Naming Your DC LLC: The name you choose for your LLC is more than just a label; it’s an embodiment of your brand and the first impression you make on potential clients and partners.

Designating a Registered Agent: Every LLC in the District of Columbia is required to designate a registered agent—a crucial role that ensures your business remains compliant and reachable.

Filing the Articles of Organization: This is the foundational step in how to start an LLC in DC that officially brings your LLC to life in the eyes of the state.

Creating an Operating Agreement: An operating agreement, while not a mandatory requirement in D.C., serves as the backbone of your LLC’s internal operations and governance.

Registering with the IRS and DC Tax and Revenue Office: To ensure your LLC is tax-compliant, registration with both federal and district tax authorities is essential.

Obtaining Necessary Licenses: To legally operate in D.C., your LLC may need various licenses and permits, depending on its nature and location.

Advantages of an LLC in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. offers many benefits for those looking to establish an LLC. One of the standout advantages is the asset protection it offers. Members can rest easy knowing their personal assets are safeguarded from any business liabilities, ensuring a clear demarcation between personal and business finances.

Another significant benefit is the tax advantage. D.C. LLCs enjoy a “pass-through” tax structure. This structure ensures that business profits are taxed just once at the individual member level, sidestepping the double taxation that corporations often grapple with.

Furthermore, the flexibility inherent in the LLC structure cannot be overstated. It empowers members with the autonomy to craft their management structures and operational procedures. This is especially invaluable for businesses that veer away from traditional operational norms.

Challenges to Consider

Forming an LLC in D.C. is not without its challenges. For starters, D.C. LLCs are on the hook for annual fees. These can accumulate over time, so prudent budgeting is essential. Additionally, the district’s commitment to transparency means that LLCs are subject to public disclosure requirements. This might not sit well with businesses that prioritize privacy. Lastly, the dynamic regulatory environment in D.C. necessitates that businesses remain agile, adapting to the ever-changing regulations, licenses, and permits.

Startup Costs

There’s the filing fee associated with submitting the Articles of Organization to the DCRA. This is a foundational step and a one-time cost. If you’re leaning towards a commercial registered agent, be prepared for the accompanying registered agent fees. The cost can fluctuate based on the services offered and the agent’s standing in the industry. Additionally, your business’s nature and its location might necessitate specific licenses, each carrying its license fee.

Ongoing Expenses

The financial commitment doesn’t end with the initial setup. Running an LLC in D.C. brings with it recurring costs. For instance, D.C. mandates that LLCs file a biennial report, which is accompanied by its fee. This report is crucial to keep the district abreast of any business changes. Furthermore, the licenses your business holds will often require renewals, each with its associated cost. And while LLCs do have tax perks, they’re not exempt from tax obligations. Both federal and district-level taxes apply, and timely payments are paramount.

The Imperative of Legal Assistance

Starting an LLC in D.C. is a path that will need legal knowledge for each step. The district’s ever-shifting regulatory framework, coupled with the intricacies of business law, underscores the importance of legal assistance for entrepreneurs.

Business attorneys, with their deep understanding of D.C.’s business regulations, offer invaluable guidance. Their expertise ensures informed decision-making at every juncture. The business formation process is not without potential issues, from choosing a unique LLC name to navigating zoning laws. An experienced attorney can help with these challenges, addressing potential risks and expensive missteps. Moreover, foundational legal documents like the Articles of Organization and the Operating Agreement are pivotal to your LLC. Engaging business lawyers in Washington DC to draft or scrutinize these documents guarantees they are thorough, compliant, and aligned with your business vision.

The regulatory process in D.C. is constantly being updated. Business Attorneys are instrumental in keeping businesses up to speed on legislative changes that could impact them. In the event of disputes, be it with stakeholders, staff, or third parties, legal counsel is indispensable. They safeguard your interests and facilitate efficient dispute resolution. As businesses evolve, so do their legal requisites. Periodic legal reviews ensure that your LLC stays compliant, adapting to any fresh mandates or shifts.

Authored by: Mohaimina Haque, Attorney & General Counsel. Immigration and Business law expert. Adjunct Law Professor. Interim CEO at Tony Roma’s.

This article has originally been featured in Forbes

Law firms have been reimagined with a much leaner real estate footprint, and many of the traditional components have been either outsourced or digitalized. This allows such law firms to revolutionize the way legal services are delivered. Such models offer a win-win for lawyers and clients alike: cut costs by using technology instead of using associates and paralegals, pass those savings on to clients and be more efficient and responsive at the same time.

Given these intrinsic advantages, it should come as no surprise that virtual law firms are on the rise. The shutdown and disruptions caused by Covid have provided a further impetus to this trend. For example, it would take an attorney the whole day to drive to the courthouse, park, wait for the judge to call their case, argue the matter, then drive back to the office. Now the same matter can be handled through Zoom and court filings can be filed online. However, after these measures were instituted, I’ve seen how the opposition to such virtual measures has eroded as the real savings in time and money to all parties concerned have become very clear.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, I already had a thriving virtual firm with an established infrastructure while big law firms were adjusting from traditional model to virtual. This is the year when I represented clients in many different fields: corporate, immigration, product liability case, personal injury, franchise, trademark. With this experience, I’ve witnessed many of these advantages firsthand.

Virtual law firms should aim to offer a number of benefits to clients to create a more cost-effective and efficient option for legal services. For those interested in working a virtual practice, here are some tips for businesses hiring a virtual law firm and what to look out for:

Finding A Virtual Law Firm Right For You

1. Reputation And Reliability

Businesses rely on well-reputed AM-LAW 100 law firms for established presence, reputation, reliability and high success rate. However, there are attorneys out there who can render excellent legal services while keeping the legal budget of a business at a much reasonable extent. But with the rise of virtual legal services, businesses should conduct a thorough research on the attorney, look at the bar website for licensing credentials, schedule a call to assess the knowledge of the attorney, ask for past client testimonials. In legal cases, there is a dearth of predictive analytics to determine the outcome of matter, but oftentimes the outcome is determined by two factors: skills of the practitioners and case management.

2. Scope

The American Bar Association in its preamble for the Model Professional Rules of Conduct states, “As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions.” Businesses must ensure the scope of engagement is memorialized in writing through a legal services agreement. Whether a firm is virtual or brick-and-mortar, this requirement goes without saying. But what has improved is the delivery of such agreements via DocuSign or any Legal CRM software such as CLIO. This exemplifies how a basic tenet of entering into attorney-client relationship can be done online.

3. Capacity

Businesses that need attorneys to be more hands-on should inquire how work assignment is delegated in a virtual law firm. If there is no in-house staff, then ask about the type of outsourcing the virtual law firm does to complete the work.

4. Human Touch

Attorneys from virtual law firms are not only meant to be behind the screen. If you work with an attorney such as for outside general counsel services and the attorney is basically your legal department outsourced, then it is expected for the attorney to visit the client, understand the business models, talk with the employees of the client if need be. Depending on the area of practice of law, the human touch factor varies.

5. Privacy Policy

Ask the attorney of a virtual law firm owner about what type of software they use, what their privacy policy is, how information is transmitted between attorneys and clients.

Conclusion

Businesses, even with a hefty legal budget, can consider virtual law firms, if the firms meet the aforementioned factors, and use the opportunity to spend some of the legal budget elsewhere in the company, such as research and development or other revenue generating department.. While this may be truer with increasing supply cost, inflation, and businesses’ inclination for austerity to manage cash inflow and outflow, nevertheless, businesses may find its cost effective to work with attorneys in a virtual setting.

The image of shiny law firms housed in tall skyscrapers, with well-adorned conference rooms and young associates scrambling and staying until 4 a.m. to work on a brief, is being replaced by attorneys with their own practices using cloud-based software and client management tools to interact with clients. Today’s modern attorneys have technology at their disposal to respond to clients while designing a work-life integration where attorneys can explore their hobbies, spend time with loved ones, practice law and serve clients without the constraints of billable hours. As technology continues to advance, I believe virtual law firms are likely to become an integral part of the legal landscape, permanently reshaping the way legal services are delivered and accessed globally.

A foreign national or a foreign citizen can become a permanent resident of the United States with a “green card.”  A green card is something that a lot of people from other countries want because it allows them to live, work, study legally, and become citizens of the United States after three or five years of holding their permanent residency in the U.S.  The Law Office of Mohaimina Haque, PLLC provides legal representation to people all around the world to apply for green card.

More than one million green cards are issued annually by the United States government.

Depending on the type of green card you apply for and where you are applying from, the processing time for a permanent resident card can take anywhere from a few months to many years.  For example, if you are applying from inside the United States, the waiting period for U.S. citizens’ spouses, immediate relatives, and minor children applying through adjustment of status—known as AOS—from inside the country is currently between 10 – 24 months. The wait time can be significantly longer for spouses of U.S. green card holders, other relatives of U.S. citizens, and employment-based green cards. On the other hand, the wait is noticeably longer for spouses and immediate relatives (parents and minor children) of U.S. citizens applying through consular processing from outside the United States.  Country caps apply to all other categories of green cards, and wait times vary greatly.

If you happen to ask, how much applying for the green card would cost me?  Please schedule a consultation today using this link: Appointment Link to find out about our reasonable legal fees.

If you want to know the government filing fee, the USCIS fee calculator on the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/feecalculator can assist you in determining the exact application fees.

Our firm has flexible payment arrangements that includes “Buy Now Pay Later” via Affirm. It allows to finance your payment to the firm with no hidden fees, no late charges and no surprises.

Practitioners are wondering whether the robust role of the federal government in healthcare fraud and abuse cases will remain the same. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the federal government recovered over $3.3 billion as a result of health care fraud judgments, settlements and additional imposition in health care fraud cases and proceedings. Additionally, in June 2016, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force engaged in a nationwide healthcare fraud takedown that resulted in charges against about 300 individuals including doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals. Rooting out fraud and abuse in healthcare has been a goal of every administration since President Ronald Reagan.

On October 27, 1986, President Reagan signed the False Claims Amendments Act of 1986, which soon became a successful anti-fraud law to deter and fight waste, fraud and abuse in the healthcare field. What makes the False Claims Act (FCA) an important tool to fight any malfeasance in the healthcare system is the qui tam provision that allows whistleblowers to expose fraud against the federal government. In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended a portion of the FCA and some of those changes are considered by practitioners to have increased the number of healthcare-related FCA cases. It is undisputed that the FCA allows the government to recover billions of dollars, however, the FCA defense bar is awaiting to see if there would be any change to the FCA-related provision in ACA. During the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when Senator Charles Grassley asked him to elaborate his intent regarding the FCA, Attorney General Sessions stated, “in the qui tam provisions and the part of that, I’m aware of those. I think they are valid and an effective method of rooting out fraud and abuse. I even filed one myself one time as a private lawyer….” At this point, this testimony only serves as a mere reverence for FCA, which is not necessarily a clear indication of what will be the effect of qui tam healthcare lawsuits or overall healthcare fraud and abuse enforcement during the Trump Administration.

There are two early signs that are leaning towards the continuity of vigorous fraud and abuse enforcement. First, the budget that has been released by the Trump White House requested an additional $70 million to fund the Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Control program. Trump’s proposed budget plan envisioned a whopping budget cut for the Department of Health and Human Service, but the additional request of funds for fraud prevention is likely an early sign of continuity of the robust fraud and abuse enforcement. Second, recently the Department of Justice has joined a whistleblower lawsuit, United States of America ex rel Benjamin Poehling v. Unitedhealth Group Inc., No. 16-08697 (Cent. Dist. Cal. Sep. 17, 2010), ECF No. 79, against UnitedHealth Group (United) and its subsidiary, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement—the nation’s largest provider of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. This suit was originally filed in 2011 by a former United Healthcare finance director under FCA, and in accordance with FCA, this case was sealed for five years while DOJ investigated the claims. The complaint alleged that United Health engaged in an upcoding scheme by falsifying the severity of patients’ illnesses. This case is gaining some attention partly due to practitioners’ curiosity to gauge Attorney General Session’s approach to FCA cases. The New York Times has reported that DOJ’s court notice, in this case, was filed by a lawyer who joined the Civil Division as a part of the Trump administration.

Perhaps it is too early to decipher the Trump Administration’s position on this particular matter. Yet some early signs suggest the effect of FCA is not waning. In sum, ferreting out fraud and abuse has always enjoyed bipartisan support. Moreover, the ACA made significant strides towards that bipartisan goal and allowed to recover a record amount of money to the government coffers, and those strengthened provisions of FCA as enacted in ACA will likely remain a tool for the government to maintain the integrity of the healthcare system.

The False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, was enacted during the time of the Civil War to combat fraud committed by the suppliers of goods to the Union army. What made the False Claims Act different from other fraud and abuse laws was the inclusion of the qui tam provision that allowed private citizens/whistleblowers (“relators”) to bring a lawsuit against companies and individuals who were defrauding the government. Over the years, the FCA has had many changes, but more recently, the FCA has become the primary tool in combatting federal healthcare fraud and abuse.

Healthcare spending is skyrocketing in the United States. As of the recent data, published by the Center of Medicare and Medicaid services on December 3, 2015, health spending accounted for 17.5 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2014, U.S. health care spending grew 5.3 percent, reaching $3.0 trillion. It is no surprise that, with this gargantuan amount of healthcare cost, there is renewed attention to exposing health care fraud and abuse. False certification is an archetypal example of fraud and abuse perpetrated by healthcare providers.

False certification is when hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers misrepresent government health care programs through non-compliance with all the regulations and obligations under their contracts with the government. For example, when providers misrepresent non-covered treatments as medically necessary for the purpose of obtaining payments from federal healthcare programs. However, in legal terms there are two categories of certification: 1) express false certification and 2) implied false certification. Express false certification theory applies when a government payee, “falsely certifies compliance with a particular statute, regulation or contractual term, where compliance is a prerequisite to payment.” United States. ex rel. Conner v. Salina Reg’l Health Ctr., Inc., 543 F.3d 1211, 1217 (10th Cir. 2008). While express false certification may not seem too hard to understand on its face, circuit courts across the country have been split on the application of the implied certification theory of liability. Government and qui tam plaintiffs have argued that just submitting a claim for reimbursement alone implies compliance with federal rules, and the implied false certification theory can be a basis for liability. On the other hand, defense counsels have argued that implied certification creates an excessive burden on defendants, especially when defendants have to pay treble damages for noncompliance of a contractual or regulatory term as conditions of payment.

On June 16, 2016, the Supreme Court in Universal Health Services v. United States ex. rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016) unanimously held that implied certification theory can be a basis for FCA liability, thus resolving a circuit split. Under the Universal Healthcare decision, “when a defendant submitting a claim makes specific representations about the goods or services provided, but fails to disclose noncompliance with material statutory, regulatory, or contractual requirements that make those representations misleading with respect to those goods or services” 136 S. Ct. at 1994.

However, the Supreme Court limited the wide application of the implied certification theory. First, when a government payee submits a claim for government payment, the claim must not “merely request payment,” but also makes “specific representation about the goods or services provided.” Second, the Supreme Court applied the common-law rule to misrepresentation, where “half-truth representations that state the truth . . . . while omitting critical qualifying information- can be an actionable misrepresentation.” 136 S. Ct. at 1994. In a footnote, Justice Thomas gave examples of tort law, contract law and securities law to demonstrate the example of common law misrepresentation, which is very much the same in understanding misrepresentation in the FCA context. Third, the Supreme Court pronounced that the materiality standard is demanding. The Court further went on to state that when assessing materiality under FCA, it’s not dispositive that every violation of express condition of payment can trigger liability. Id. at 2003. The Supreme Court identified additional situations on what can trigger materiality, and in sum, it is dependent on the specific context.

The much-anticipated Universal Health Services decision resolved the circuit split, and at the same time would thwart attempts by plaintiffs and the government to bring cases for a “garden variety of breaches of contract or regulatory violation.” Overall, this decision is a win for plaintiffs and government because a healthcare provider can still be facing implied certification liabilities under FCA for making a fraudulent claim for payment from the federal healthcare programs, but at the same time, defense counsels have assurance in light of this decision that minor regulatory and contract violations would not result in huge liabilities. Lower courts will determine what lies ahead in the wake of this decision, whether qui tam plaintiffs will have difficulty pleading facts sufficient to prove the test outlined by the Universal Health Services court or whether the defense community has these new guardrails to shield them from unsubstantiated implied false certification liability.

On February 4th, 2023, Ramon Bourgeois, the CEO of Tony Roma’s, and Attorney Mina Haque, the Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Mohaimina Haque, PLLC, also the General Counsel of Tony Roma’s, was invited by Professor Jill Hellman of Cornell University to speak to the students and answer their questions, while the latter worked on case studies about innovating and out-thinking strategies for this well-known franchise. Professor Jill Hellman, a renowned Global Growth Strategist, teaches “Key Drivers for Making Innovation Happen” at SC Johnson College of Business of Cornell University. As a part of her pedagogy, she invites the top leadership and C-suites from various corporations to class, providing their perspectives on the real-life business world.

In her speech, Attorney Mina Haque explained that her responsibilities as the General Counsel have never been limited to providing corporations with legal advice, as she also empowers them to “strategize, innovate and grow in the early stages of decision making”. Attorney Mina Haque is also an adjunct law professor of law practice management at American University Washington College of Law.

The Law Office of Mohaimina Haque always makes sure our client’s business ideas are not only legally compliant but are able to elevate the corporate’s brand to a brand-new level, an asset that distinguishes us from every other law firm.

Ramon Bourgeois, CEO of Tony Roma’s, Alicia Laszewski, CEO of Brand Ethos, Mina Haque, Esq., General Counsel of Tony Roma’s speaking to Cornell University students.

The E-2 Investor Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to enter and work in the United States based on their investment in a U.S. business. This visa is specifically designed for individuals who are looking to start or purchase a business in the United States and manage it actively.

To be eligible for an E-2 Investor Visa, you must be a national of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. Find out here if you come from a treaty country.  You must be coming to the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This means that you must be an essential part of the business and have a controlling interest in it.

To apply for an E-2 Investor Visa, you must first set up your business in the United States and show that you have invested a substantial amount of capital in it. The exact amount of capital required will depend on the type of business you are starting, but it must be enough to ensure the successful operation of the business. We help clients to establish their entity and also take care of their corporate needs in additional legal representation for immigration.

Once your business is established, you can apply for an E-2 Investor Visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country or as a change of status if you were in the United States on a different non-immigrant visa such as F-1 or B1/B2. The application process will require you to submit various documents, including proof of your investment, a business plan, and evidence of your nationality.

If your E-2 Investor Visa is approved, you will be able to enter the United States–if you apply from overseas, and work in your business for an initial period of up to five years. This visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as you continue to meet the renewal requirements and your business is still operating.

One of the benefits of the E-2 Investor Visa is that it allows you to bring your spouse and children with you to the United States. Your spouse will be able to work in the United States on an E-2 dependent visa, and your children will be able to attend school until the age of 21 years of age.

Overall, the E-2 Investor Visa is a great option for foreign nationals who are looking to start or purchase a business in the United States and manage it actively. If you meet the requirements and are ready to invest in a U.S. business, this visa can provide you with the opportunity to live and work in the United States while growing your business.

In order to achieve great results for clients, my team and I meticulously attend to details while ensuring that the process is seamless for clients.  Compared to the bulk of immigration attorneys, my experience has been very different.  I also provide knowledge from my training and employment experience in federal government agencies, the White House, and Capitol Hill. My prior experience has made me informed, astute, and effective, all of which have a significant positive impact on my clientele.

If you are wondering how much E-2 visa legal representation will cost?  Please schedule a consultation today using this link: Appointment Link to find out about our reasonable legal fees.

If you want to know the government filing fee, the USCIS fee calculator on the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/feecalculator can assist you in determining the exact application fees.

We are here to fulfill your dreams to run your business in the US and live in the US with your family.

A major push has been underway by medical service providers and their technology outsourcing companies to digitalize electronic records and the attendant Personal Health Information (PHI) that is generated every time we get medical care. In fact, digitalizing healthcare records is widely thought of as one of the best available avenues of obtaining savings and holding back the United States’ rapidly ballooning healthcare costs. However, beyond the immediate savings, digitalization of medical records holds out the promise of running analytics on those records and thus uncovering precious new information on the trends hidden in our PHI.

One example of a domain where this effort is starting to bear fruit is analytic efforts regarding episodes of care. Let us say that State X analyzes all of the instances where its citizens were treated for a particular disease. Next, after isolating those cases, it normalizes for age, race, gender and other demographic variables, and then analyzes the data for cost per patient for the treatment of these diseases. Once that’s done, the state could then compile and rank all the medical providers providing medical treatment to its population, in order of least expensive to most expensive. It could then provide a financial reward to, say, the five medical providers who are providing this treatment at the lowest risk, while penalizing those medical providers who are costing their patients the most money for getting the same treatment. Or it could try to pick either the best or the worst medical providers and try to find out why one group is performing so much differently than the other group.

Two recent trends in modern healthcare have accelerated the potential for deriving greater benefits from PHI analytics. One is the emergence of Cloud technology. Due to the ever-tightening budgets, states are increasingly finding it more and more convenient to move their healthcare operation and applications from dedicated data centers to the Cloud environment. The more security-conscious of these entities are opting for some variation of private clouds. Either way, they are depending on the protection provided by the breach requirements of the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which allows them to shift the liability of these breach incidents to the business associates rather than the covered entities.

The second trend worth paying attention to is the emergence of Hadoop. Hadoop is an open-source software language developed by the non-profit Apache Foundation. Due to its open-source nature, it can be used without having to incur any commercial licensing costs. Hadoop allows users to process very large data sets on a group of different computers, by splitting up the data, sending it to different computers to be processed, and then putting all the processed data back together in the correct order. This feature allows it to produce results similar to what would be achieved through a supercomputer but by using a group of less-powerful computers.

Entities using the Cloud are becoming increasingly comfortable with allowing their data to reside in external servers. This then allows this data to be analyzed by analytics suites running Hadoop. The result is increased clarity and decreasing cost. This happy convergence of more powerful analytics and cloud computing should ultimately accrue greater benefit to the healthcare community and the patients they serve.

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