These are the people that make our work worthwhile. German-Sarasota immigrant and serial entrepreneur Anna Monka has a new business called Trips2Learn. Check out our new video to learn more.
Last time we spoke with Sarasota immigrant Christophe Coutelle he was running C’est La Vie on Main St. and making plans to open his second restaurant, Lolita Tartine. C’est La Vie began as a part of a plan to move from France and start a business in the US. It was very successful, turning a profit within weeks! So Christophe decided to build on his success. Lolita Tartine opened on October 23rd and is now serving the delicious pastries and coffee that Christophe is known for as well as the new tartines, or open-faced sandwiches, wine, and other lunch and dinner items such as salads and stews.
Christophe invited ImmigrationSarasota.com to a cafe au lait at the new restaurant.
IS.com: This is a beautiful new restaurant, did you have a hand in designing it yourself?
Christopher Coutelle: Thank you. Yes, this is one of the typical renovated spaces you see in the Rosemary District. My friend, another Frenchman actually, introduced me to it. At first I said I would think about it. With time I decided this was the place to open Lolita Tartine.
IS.com: You use a lot of red, an attention grabbing color, was that on purpose?
CC: The window frame is red so we went with that for the interior.
IS.com: I noticed the famous artists’ portraits on the wall. Picasso, Dali, Delacroix, why them?
CC: We had help from the design studio next door. We decided to name the different tartines after famous artists and we added their portraits on the wall for continuity.
IS.com: SO why not stick with what you know, pastries and coffee? Why add lunch and dinner?
CC: My wife and I had seen a restaurant in France call Dame Tartine, short for Madame Tartine, and we had originally wanted to open a place like that in the States. For business reasons we decided to open C’Est La Vie first. But serving good food all day long is always something we wanted to do, and now we are.
IS.com: So how late is Lolita open?
CC: We open at 8:30am and close the kitchen at 9pm.
IS.com: I noticed a large selection of wines behind the bar. Are they all from France?
CC: At the moment, yes. I have a friend who is an importer who finds good French wines. But people have been asking and I am also thinking about expanding into Spanish, Italian, and Argentinian wines.
IS.com: Tell me more about the tartine.
CC: Well, it is an open-faced sandwich and I always say that if people want to know more they should come to the restaurant and try one!
You can find Christophe at his new restaurant most hours of the day. We wish him all the best in his new endeavor. Go and visit Lolita Tartine and let Christophe know where you heard about him.
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Re-posted from mysuncoast.com
SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla.- The Affordable Care Act has had its problems the past few months, and adding to the confusion is the mandate that immigrants must have health insurance as well, or risk being penalized.
“The Affordable Care Act does apply to anyone who is legally present in the United States, so that includes obviously U.S. citizens, permanent residents, but also people here with temporary visas,” says Victoria Karins.
Victoria Karins is a well-known immigration attorney at Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, in Sarasota county. She tells us the mandate may affect the economy here on the Suncoast.
“This may be one more thing that could possibly lead our snowbirds and other tourists that we rely on to go somewhere else. If it’s something that’s going to increase expenses and not benefit them, I think it’s a factor that they’ll take into consideration when deciding where they want to spend their tourism dollars, “said Karins.
We asked a couple from Scotland, who visit the Suncoast a few times a year, if they would consider buying a second home here despite the new mandate.
“It would stop us from coming because we have free national health service. When we come here on vacation we have to pay, so if coming to stay longer, we’d be paying even more money,” said Marion Elder, a tourist from Scotland.
However, some say it would be a dream to live in the United States and would want the coverage.
“We are prepared to pay, but within limits. It depends on how much it would cost for the health insurance,” said Bill Wiggs, visiting from England.
According to the latest census data, immigrants made up 12.2% of Manatee County’s population and 11.5% in Sarasota County. That’s more than 88,000 immigrants on the Suncoast, most of whom are migrant agricultural workers or have a second home here and both groups help fuel our economy.
Immigration law firms and insurance groups like, Professional Benefits Inc. in Sarasota, are great resources here on the Suncoast to help guide immigrants that have further questions.
Sarasota immigrants will be interested to know about a new business opportunity on Clark Rd in Sarasota, FL. A well-established bar and entertainment venue is for sale. It is one of the few establishments licensed to provide entertainment after 10pm in Sarasota. The owner is an immigrant himself who used the business to qualify for an E-2 Investor Visa when he bought it.
The current owner bought the business in 2010 when it was on the verge of closing. Now it’s a well-known local watering hole with annual revenue of over $350,000. Asking price is $450,000.
Features include the largest stage in Sarasota (according to the owner), 23 TVs, 2 106″ sceens, 2 pool tables, beer pong, and SS bowling.
The business currently employees seven full time servers and bartenders, one full-time General Manager and several part-time bartenders.
Interested parties should contact immigrant investor Jason Kukk (941-921-6875) or Sarasota immigration attorney Chris Jaensch (940-366-9841) for more information.
Please enjoy the video below to learn more about qualifying for an investor visa through a commercial real estate investment.
Few people could have imagined a business in Sarasota selling brooms and brushes, marionettes, and other quality household items and gifts from Germany. But that is in fact the case with the now 4-year-old Nessentials store in Burns Court. Founded by Nadja, a German immigrant from the Frankfurt area, Nessentials was essentially the answer to a personal need for a quality German broom and is now a store that is unique not only in the USA but also in Germany.
When Nadja first moved here she needed an idea for a new business in order to qualify for an E-2 investor visa. She found herself in need of a quality natural horse hair broom and there were none to be found in Sarasota or anywhere on the US Internet. She decided that this would be her business, she would sell high-end natural bristle German brooms and brushes in Sarasota.
She first rented space in Gulf Gate Drive and set up her shop but decided after 2 years to move to Burns Court, downtown Sarasota, where there is more foot traffic. In the new location business expanded rapidly. Besides carrying the largest selection of more that 500 different all natural bristle brushes and brooms from Germany, including the finest hand made artist paint brushes and make up brushes, goat’s hair and ostrich feather dusters, badger hair shaving sets and any brush you can think of for your cleaning and personal hygiene needs, she started adding more and more gift items such as collectibles, marionettes, Christmas ornaments, snow globes, music boxes and much more.
The business, now in its 5th year, has grown steadily and is now expanding rapidly into the digital marketplace. Nadja recently redesigned her website and is now receiving orders from all over the country.
These days Nadja is busy. The Sarasota Chalk Festival is taking place in Burns Court this week and is bringing a large pedestrian crowd to the area. Nadja is also a founding member of the European-American Club of Sarasota, a group of people from mostly German speaking countries who are making plans to bring more German culture and activities such as Christmas markets and Oktoberfest to our sunny city.
ImmigrationSarasota.com is looking forward to a Christmas market like the one we experienced on a previous visit to Frankfurt someday in Sarasota.
Please enjoy a video of Nessentials below.
Check out Nadja’s website Nessentials.com, and like it on Facebook.com/Nessentials and spread the word by sharing what you like!
A new commercial real estate investment opportunity in Sarasota could help an immigrant investor qualify for an EB-5, according to brokers from Ian Black Real Estate. From their sales prospectus:
OFFERED FOR SALE – Corporate Campus, located on 7.52 acres in southern Manatee County, just north of the Sarasota/Manatee County Line, has all the amenities ideal for a corporate headquarters, technical institute, research and development facility or corporate training venue. The Campus offers 170’ of frontage on 15th Street East and is located between Whitfield Avenue and Talevast Road, half mile northeast of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), universities, major industrial facilities, and accessed via a network of state and interstate highways, this well-maintained facility includes:
Administration Complex – 2 story, 18,400 SF structure with full height atrium, elevator, combination of private/executive offices with 9 ft. ceilings, open areas with glass and partition walls. The building is wired with Cat 3 and 5, cross hubbed redundancy built in between floors and grounded data circuits, motion detectors and beam security system, 3 phase electric.
Conference/Research & Development/Training Center – The one-story 8,127 SF structure houses offices, 3 classrooms, a conference room, training area, student break room, warehouse storage and small research & development lab.
Guest and Manager’s Quarters – The Campus includes residential quarters with potential for future expansion. Comprised of one 5-BR house with commercial kitchen and dining area, one 1-BR cottage, one 2-BR house, and one 4-BR house, the added value for student or employee housing is rare.
Industrial Warehouse – A 15,000 SF warehouse/manufacturing building is located adjacent to the Administrative Complex and Conference/R&D/Training Center. Consisting of 11,640 SF on the first floor with a 3,420 SF mezzanine, the coated steel frame building includes 3-phase electric, offices, rest rooms, 2 loading docks and 5 overhead doors. Ceiling height at the apex is approximately 18′.
Maintenance Workshop with Garage – A 1,582 SF building provides ample space for a metal, mechanical or woodworking shop and features a separate garage for 2 vehicles.
- Price: $2,750,000
- Land Size: 7.52 Acres
- Estimated Square Feet: 50,169
- Parcel IDs: Multiple
- Zoning: Multiple
- County: Manatee
- Taxes: (2012) $38,611.45
For more questions on the commercial property, please download the full prospectus (BioTech Way Commercial Investment Opportunity) or contact Jag Grewal or Cindy Jean (941-906-8688) at Ian Black Real Estate.
To learn more about how to use commercial real estate to qualify for an investor visa, please see the following video of Chris Jaensch speaking on the issue or contact the attorneys at Jaensch Immigration Law Firm (941) 366-9841.
Sarasota immigrants are asking what the new Affordable Care Act means for them. ImmigrationSarasota.com decided to investigate.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed on March 21, 2010, is the largest overhaul of the United States’ health care system since 1965. Its purpose is to reduce the cost of health care and increase the number of Americans with health insurance. One of the ways it achieves these goals is through the “individual mandate,” a provision that requires anyone who is legally present in the US to have health insurance or face a penalty to be assessed in their taxes.
“The individual mandate goes into effect on January 1, 2014 and applies to all those legally present in the US,” says Victoria Jaensch Karins, president of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and attorney at Jaensch Immigration Law Firm. “This includes those on temporary visas such as F-1 student visas, E-2 investor visas, and H-1B work visas,” she continues.
This means that all legal US immigrants, including those on temporary visas, will have to buy health insurance if they don’t have it already.
“Immigrants should be made aware so they can make the appropriate preparations,” said Peter Matthiessen, CEO of Deusa Group and a licensed insurance agent in California, Florida, Texas and Georgia. “They should also be advised not to buy a foreign health insurance policy. Most US medical providers don’t accept them,” he continued.
According to Taylor Tollerton, partner at Professional Benefits, Inc., Sarasota’s leading insurance group, immigrants should also know that, “some health insurance companies don’t offer coverage to legal residents if they have not been in the U.S. for longer than 6 months.” She added that, “utilizing experts in the industry to help navigate your way through is vital.”
The Affordable Care Act establishes healthcare exchanges for insurance providers and consumers. Temporary and permanent immigrants are eligible to participate in the exchanges.
Immigrants may also purchase health insurance policies that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act privately, outside the exchange, through a licensed broker/agent. They are identical, except that possible subsidies do not apply. Persons with privacy concerns should consider avoiding the exchanges.
Undocumented aliens are exempt from the mandate to have health coverage and barred from the health insurance exchanges. However, undocumented parents can apply for “child-only” coverage for their legal immigrant or citizen child through the exchanges.
Peter Matthiessen is the CEO of Deusa Group. For the past 17 years, Deusa Group has specialized in this very complex insurance matter pertaining to foreign nationals entering or living in the USA. Insurance outside the USA is also offered. Every situation is different and requires a solution on a case by case basis. Inquiries are welcome at any time – email@example.com.
Founded in 1979 by Jim Tollerton, Professional Benefits Inc. (PBI) is Sarasota’s leading independent insurance group serving the community with insurance plans for individuals and employers by helping to establish employee benefits, executive compensation programs, and succession plans. In 2007, Mr. Tollerton partnered with Taylor Tollerton Collins and formed a second division of PBI with Benefits and Planning, Inc. managed by Mrs. Collins. Professional Benefits serves several local organizations including: Education Foundation, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, First Step of Sarasota, Argus, and the local National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisor chapter. Mrs. Collins is available for interview.
- How an Undocumented Alien Can Get Insured
- Foreign Health Insurance Companies Will No Longer Be Able to Offer Policies to American Residents
“Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., date last updated (24 October 2013). Web. Date accessed (24 October 2013). <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act>
Here is an interesting business opportunity for Sarasota immigrants: a sailboat-building business for sale. The manufacturing business produces about 200 boats annually. Models range from 15-foot to 23-foot sailboats, including the Colgate 26, the model that the US Navy and Coast Guard use to train their personnel. The business has built up a team of dedicated employees, some of which have more than 20 years of experience. They predict an increase in sales in coming years as consumers release pent-up demand.
- Sales: $820,000
- Profit: $109,000
- Sales: $1,200,000
- Profit: $190,000
For more information contact Steven Alexander of Abbex, Inc.: (941) 365-3833. To see if the business qualifies for an investor visa please request more detailed financial documents from Mr. Alexander and contact Chris Jaensch: (941) 366-9841.
For information on more ways to qualify for an investor visa, please see the video below of Chris Jaensch speaking about using commercial property to qualify for an E-2 or EB-4 investor visa.
A friend of the attorneys at Jaensch Immigration Law Firm recently submitted a video he made about the life of undocumented immigrants in New York and the hope that immigration reform is giving them for achieving the American Dream.
Partha first arrived from India to play tennis at IMG Academy. He won a tennis scholarship to study at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and obtained his degree. He worked in investment banking for a while before deciding to follow his passion to become a filmmaker and moving to New York City.
Seeing the plight of undocumented immigrants in NYC and being an immigrant himself, Partha decided to add his voice to the call for reform through film. As he put it, he wanted to differentiate himself from the many other films being done about this issue by making his a fiction piece, and incorporating more comedy. By showing just how ridiculous the situation can be for some of the nation’s immigrants, he hopes to produce serious reflection on immigration law and its economic impact, healthcare and human trafficking.
Below you will find the first mini-promo Partha filmed. He plans on filming two more. He is using the promos to gather support for filming a full-length feature. His goal is to raise $55,000 by January. So far he’s raised $16,000.
Future plans include kicking off a Kickstarter campaign and continuing to raise funds through his network of friends, family, and colleagues.
To learn more and to donate follow this link. Please enjoy the promo video below.
Sarasota Immigration Attorneys See Surge in Applications for What Could Be the Last Green Card LotteryPosted: October 25th, 2013 | Author: Chris Jaensch | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: DV Lottery, Green Card Lottery, Immigration Attorney Sarasota | No Comments »
Applicants Rush in Before Congress Eliminates the Green Card Lottery
Sarasota, FL, 10/21/13 – Immigration attorneys across the Sarasota-Bradenton area are seeing a surge in applications for the Diversity Visa or Green Card Lottery this year. Held every year in October, the Diversity Visa Lottery allows residents of countries that do not send many immigrants to America to apply for a Green Card. In order to be granted a Green Card, applicants have to prove their nationality, demonstrate a clean criminal record, and show that they will not be a public burden.
This year’s surge is due to the ongoing debate in Congress about immigration reform. In July, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would eliminate the Diversity Visa. Just a few weeks ago, in the midst of the shutdown, House Democrats produced their own bill which would do the same.
“What we are seeing is an attempt on the part of the House Democrats to use the momentum they gained from ending the shutdown to pressure House Republicans into compromising on Immigration Reform,” said Chris Jaensch, managing attorney of Jaensch Immigraiton Law Firm, Sarasota’s largest immigration firm. “The Diversity Visa is already unpopular with conservatives and not seeing it on the Democrats’ bill means that if immigration reform passes, regardless of the form it takes, the Diversity Visa is out,” he continued.
President Obama has announced that Immigration Reform is one of his major objectives for the next 90 days, along with a budget and a farm bill. We could see Immigration Reform before the end of the year.
This year the Diversity Visa application window is open until 12 noon eastern standard time on November 2nd.
On Monday, October 28th, Summer Smith of BayNews9, after hearing that this year’s may be the last Diversity Visa Lottery, came to our firm to interview Victoria Jaensch Karins. Victoria is the president of the Central Florida Chapter of AILA.
Sarasota immigrants can now use the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) card as a primary form of identification at BB&T Bank. Also known as the U.S. Employment Authorization Document (EAD), the DACA card and a tax-identification number will allow any Sarasota immigrant to open up an account with BB&T. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based bank is one of the first financial institutions in the country to accept this form of identification.
The DACA program launched in August 2012 and allows children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the country for two years and to apply for the U.S. Employment Authorization Card. These individuals must have entered the United States as children and meet several key guidelines to earn the deferral. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) statistics show more than 260,000 people have been approved for the DACA card and the number is growing rapidly. More information on the DACA program can be found on our website, DeferredActionFlorida.com, or by contacting attorney Victoria Jaensch Karins: 941-366-9841.
ImmigrationSarasota.com sat down with local BB&T representatives Abigail Collins and Rossana McConahay to learn more.
IS.com: Please tell me more about this new program.
Abigail Collins/Rossana McConahay: BB&T now accepts EAD cards as primary IDs. This allows us to help more people in an important and growing demographic that is sometimes under-served financially. We hope to offer an opportunity for EAD holders to open bank accounts with us. In addition, we offer comprehensive educational resources and bilingual staff in many of our banking centers. This allows BB&T to achieve our mission, which is to help our clients achieve economic success and financial security.
IS.com: EADs have existed for a while, how is this policy different from before?
A.C./R.M: In the past, our clients were asked to present a visa or a social security card with their EAD. Since people who apply for DACA have neither, this made it very difficult to open a bank account.
IS.com: What is the biggest obstacle you face in serving this perennially under-banked community?
A.C./R.M: Some members of the Hispanic community believe that providing their information puts them at risk for deportation. That’s why our bilingual staff members do our best to make our clients feel like they are a part of our family. We also urge them to tell their friends and family about their experiences with us.
IS.com: You also provide extensive educational material…
A.C./R.M: Yes, we believe in building a strong relationship with our clients and empowering them to make their dreams come true. BB&T e provides free educational material on topics such as education, getting a driver’s license, the world of work, how to prepare for an emergency, and the U.S. healthcare system. We want our clients to have the knowledge they need to be successful in this country.
Feel free to contact Ms. Collins or Ms. McConahay for more information. Their office is located at 1201 South Tamiami Trail and their phone number is 941-366-5463.
Inmigrantes en Sarasota ya pueden usar los permisos de trabajo para abrir cuentas bancarias
Inmigrantes en Sarasota ya pueden usar la nueva tarjeta de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (conocida como DACA por su sigla en inglés) como una de las principales formas de identificación para las personas que no sean ciudadanas estadounidenses. Esta tarjeta, a la que también se le llama Tarjeta de Autorización de Empleo en Estados Unidos, y un número de identificación para el pago de impuestos, permitirán que cualquier persona pueda abrir una cuenta en BB&T, una de las primeras instituciones financieras del país en aceptar este tipo de identificación.
El programa DACA fue lanzado en agosto de 2012 y permite que los hijos de inmigrantes indocumentados permanezcan en el país durante dos años y que soliciten la Tarjeta de Autorización de Empleo en Estados Unidos. Estas personas deberán haber ingresado en Estados Unidos siendo niños y deben cumplir varias estipulaciones clave para obtener el aplazamiento. Estadísticas del Servicio de Inmigración y Ciudadanía de Estados Unidos (USCIS por su sigla en inglés) muestran que más de 260,000 personas han sido aprobadas para la obtención de la tarjeta DACA y esa cifra sigue en aumento rápidamente. Se puede encontrar más información sobre el programa DACA en la página de internet del USCIS.
ImmigrationSarasota.com recently heard about a new business opportunity for immigrant investors. The business is a liquor store located in the Sarasota Crossings shopping center at the intersection of Fruitville Rd. and Honore Ave. The shopping center includes a Publix, an hhgregg, a CVS and a Starbucks. The upper-middle class Meadows neighborhood is less than a mile away.
The liquor store is already established and profitable, sales have been increasing yearly, it would come with $549,000 worth of inventory and it is one of the few liquor stores in town that delivers.
Address: 5411 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota, FL 34232
Square Footage: 191,148
Number of neighboring tenants: 35
Year Built: 1990
Last Renovation: 2009
Parking Spaces: 956
Immigrants who are interested in obtaining an E-2 investor visa may be able to do so by buying this business. Please contact the business broker, Nicole Christodoulou, of Commodore Realty (305-365-2600) for more information. Contact Chris Jaensch of Jaensch Immigration Law Firm (941-366-9841) to see if the business could qualify for an E-2.
For information on more ways to qualify for an investor visa, please see the video below of Chris Jaensch speaking about using commercial property to qualify for an E-2 or EB-4 investor visa.
Be Careful Who You Work With: Woman in Tampa Sentenced to Confinement for Unlicensed Practice of LawPosted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: Chris Jaensch | Filed under: Jaensch Immigration Law Firm | Tags: AILA, Immigration Attorney, USCIS, Victoria Jaensch Karens | No Comments »
Originally posted on ILW.com.
USCIS successfully prosecutes unlicensed immigration attorney thanks to tip from the Central Florida Chapter of AILA.
TAMPA – The efforts of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services led to the successful sentencing of a Tampa-area woman on September 18 to six months confinement, six months home detention and three years of probation for falsely using official seals of the United States. Maria Virginia Constantinou pleaded guilty on May 29 to falsely using the seal of the Department of Homeland Security to perpetuate her unlicensed practice of immigration law and defrauding dozens of victims to pay her “legal fees” to help them obtain lawful immigration status.
USCIS learned about Constantinou’s activities from a tip from the local American Immigration Lawyers Association. That tip was investigated by USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate and resulted in subsequent charges against Constantinou. Tampa and Orlando FDNS worked with agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to bring the case to prosecution.
“We at USCIS are proud to have generated this case for successful prosecution,” said Kimberly Dean, Chief of FDNS in the Southeast Region. “Constantinou victimized immigrants for personal gain and misrepresented USCIS. We are committed to combatting deceptive practices to ensure the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.”
According to court documents, Constantinou presented herself to immigrants in the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas as an attorney who could assist them with immigration proceedings with the U.S. government. In reality, Constantinou is not a licensed attorney.
Constantinou accepted payment from her victims based on the false statement that she would submit immigration paperwork for them. Constantinou would then produce documents that appeared to be from USCIS to the victims to make them believe she had submitted paperwork on their behalf. These documents were false and contained false seals of the United States. Constantinou never submitted paperwork to USCIS on behalf of her victims.
USCIS launched an initiative to combat the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law with the goal of equipping applicants, legal service providers and community-based organizations with the knowledge and tools they need to detect and protect themselves from dishonest practices. Visit www.uscis.gov/avoidscams for more information.
Victoria Jaensch Karins is the current president of the Central Florida Chapter of AILA. For more information regarding this release please contact her via telephone: 941-366-9841.
Ten cuidado con quién trabaja
Condenan a una mujer quien ejercía la ley de inmigración sin licencia a seis meses de reclusión.
Originalmente publicado en ILW.com.
USCIS, con la ayuda del capítulo de la Florida Central de la Asociación Americana de Abogados de Inmigración (AILA) procesa con éxito a una mujer quien ejercía la ley de inmigración sin licencia.
TAMPA – Los esfuerzos de los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de EE.UU. (USCIS) llevó a la condena el 18 de septiembre a una mujer del área de Tampa. Está condenada a seis meses de reclusión, seis meses de arresto domiciliario y tres años de libertad condicional por uso falso de sellos oficiales de los Estados Unidos. Maria Virginia Constantinou se declaró culpable el 29 de mayo al uso falso del sello del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional para perpetuar la práctica no autorizada de la ley de inmigración y al estafar decenas de víctimas quienes le pagaron “gastos legales.”
USCIS aprendió sobre las actividades de Constantinou por un informe del capítulo de la Florida Central de AILA. La investigación por el USCIS dio lugar a las siguientes cargas contra Constantinou. Los Departementos Federales de Seguridad Nacional (FDNS) de Tampa y Orlando trabajaron con agentes de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) para llevar el caso al juicio.
“Nosotros en USCIS sentimos orgullosos de haber generado este caso para su enjuiciamiento exitoso”, dijo Kimberly Dean , Jefe de FDNS de la Región Sudeste. ”Constantinou perjudicó a inmigrantes para beneficiarse personalmente y tergiversó a USCIS. Estamos comprometidos con la lucha contra las prácticas engañosas para asegurar la integridad del sistema de inmigración de nuestra nación”.
Constantinou se presentaba a los inmigrantes en la Bahía de Tampa y Orlando como abogada que les podría ayudar en los procedimientos de inmigración con el gobierno de EE.UU. En realidad, Constantinou no es un abogado con licencia.
Constantinou aceptaba el pago de sus víctimas basándose en la falsa afirmación de que iba a presentar documentos a inmigración en sus nombres. Constantinou entonces producía documentos que parecían ser de USCIS para hacerles creer a sus víctimas de que los había presentado. Estos documentos eran falsos y contenían falsos sellos de los Estados Unidos. Constantinou nunca presentó documentación al USCIS.
USCIS puso en marcha una iniciativa para combatir el ejercicio no autorizado de la ley de inmigración con el objetivo de dotar a los solicitantes, proveedores de servicios legales y de las organizaciones basadas en la comunidad con el conocimiento y las herramientas necesarias para detectar y protegerse de las prácticas deshonestas. Visite www.uscis.gov/avoidscams para más información.
Victoria Jaensch Karins es el actual presidente del Capítulo de la Florida Central de AILA. Para obtener más información acerca del acontecimiento, por favor póngase en contacto con ella a través del teléfono : 941-366-9841.
Robin Whincup, founder of Galaxy America, sits atop a partially assembled mechanical buffalo that the Port Charlotte company built. Courtesy photo / Galaxy America
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.
PORT CHARLOTTE - There are jobs and there are businesses, and then there’s what Robin and Mike Whincup do for a living.
The father-and-son team owns and runs Galaxy America, which manufactures and sells mechanical bull rides and inflatable, multi-player games that cost from $8,000 to $20,000.
To date, the company has sold about 5,000 worldwide to festivals, boardwalks, traveling fairs, small theme parks, party supply rental companies and other businesses.
And more sales are in the offing, if the Whincups’ track record of innovation holds.
The family got into the business in 1985, when Robin Whincup, then a carpet installer in England, got into the amusements trade by buying a “bounce house” and renting it out for children’s parties.
Eventually, he invested in a new gizmo featured in the popular “Urban Cowboy” movie that starred John Travolta.
The mechanical bull simulates a rodeo-style bucking bovine that tries to throw its rider. It turned out to be a profitable investment. Mechanical bull riding became a nationwide craze.
But for all the success, the elder Whincup thought the concept needed refinement.
That’s because the old fashioned mechanical bulls were heavy — so much so that they required six people and about two hours to install and break down.
So Whincup set out to “re-invent” the mechanical bull to make it lighter, easier to assemble and safer.
Today, Whincup’s bulls can be installed by just a pair of workers, and in a fraction of the time — 20 minutes.
His re-invented bull involves securing a fiberglass body covered with an artificial hide atop a steel spin motor. A soft foam head with a polyurethane “skin” is then attached. Unlike conventional mechanical bulls, the machine resembles the beast.
Whincup also designed his mechanical bull, which sells for about $16,000, so that it could be converted into mechanical rides with dozens of other custom-made themes.
With a different fiberglass figure placed on top, the ride can become a mechanical shark, dog, jack o’ lantern, buffalo — whatever.
The rocking contraption is centered on an inflated vinyl platform, so riders are not injured if they fall.
The re-invention nearly a quarter-century ago led Whincup to open a factory in Harrogate, England.
As his invention became more popular, Galaxy provided Whincup with an opportunity to stop laying carpet and devote himself full time to his business. In time, that led to an even bigger change.
Made in America
With the U.S. as his biggest market, Whincup decided to open a factory in America.
“I found that Americans wanted to buy stuff in their own country with their own dollars,” Whincup said.
When he looked for a location, he gravitated toward the Sarasota area — a place where his family had vacationed and enjoyed themselves.
“I just wanted to live in the sunshine,” the elder Whincup said.
In 2008, he found a facility to rent in Port Charlotte that met his needs. He began small, with a single employee.
That didn’t last long, though.
“We grew very quickly,” Whincup said. “The business just exploded.”
In the past five years, annual company revenues have grown from $600,000 to $3 million.
These days, with eight employees in England, Whincup’s Port Charlotte enterprise is now the larger of the two factories.
Galaxy America employs 16 and expects to expand. Whincup predicts that, by 2016, he will need 30 on staff.
Displaying his wares at trade shows is the key to his success, Whincup said. Photographs alone do not sell a Galaxy product.
“People have to see it, touch it,” he said.
The mechanical bulls, the company’s most popular product, are bought by bars and restaurants as well as party-supply stores.
Businesses that charge customers about $250 to $350 to rent the machines can earn their money back within months, Mike Whincup said.
A mechanical bull on the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach is reportedly earning its owner about $113,000 a year, the younger Whincup said.
What also differentiates Galaxy’s machines is the ability to customize them to fit almost any specialty. Instead of a bull, a Mexican restaurant wanted a donkey. A tequila company uses a wedge of lime ride to promote its products. Various brands of beverages want customers to ride their drink containers, and a shoe store wanted, of course, a shoe.
When it promoted itself at a Texas event, British broadcaster BBC America decided that, instead of a mechanical bull, its Galaxy-designed ride would be a mechanical British bulldog.
More ideas, more fun
To keep Galaxy thriving, the Whincups are constantly innovating.
Their inventory includes a surfing simulation machine on an inflated “wave.”
The company also offers several inflatable games with moving parts for multiple players.
For example, the four players in “Log Slammer” pretend an upriver mill exploded and they are floating on tree stumps. They have to jump or duck to avoid a swinging log or out-of-control saw blade while also staying clear of the jaws of two imaginary alligators.
The inflatable games sell for $13,000 to $20,000.
The company’s next inflatable game line will be a 100-foot obstacle course, complete with movable parts that will keep players dodging, climbing and jumping to beat each other to the finish line.
Several of the games can be attached to each other to make the course even longer.
Dan Maitland, who has produced a television episode about Galaxy for a Dallas-based digital media company, learned about Galaxy through an international association that represents amusement parks.
“Some of the things they are creating are very unique and cutting edge,” Maitland said of Galaxy.
Now Galaxy also is working on interactive animated videos that will take players to a whole new level. Several people sit in a mock vehicle in front of “a green screen” and a video camera. A director tells them how to react to animation they cannot see as their vehicle sways and turns. The finished video shows the riders and the animated scene behind them.
On one such ride, children join Santa on his sleigh as it takes off from the North Pole, shoots past the moon and descends upon a Dickensian-style city, where the riders toss out wrapped gifts to imagined people below.
In yet another game, perhaps loosely based on the movie “Toy Story,” passengers in a toy car find themselves being pursued by other toys in a child’s room.
Riders atop a sea turtle go on an underwater adventure, dodging creatures of the deep as they search for pirates’ lost treasure.
The Whincups think shopping malls are likely venues for the animated ride booths. Customers will buy DVDs or e-mailed digital copies of their two-minute adventures for a price that has yet to be finalized.
For the Whincups, not knowing what they may still add to their expanding inventory of amusements is all in a day’s work — and they are definitely enjoying the ride.
“It’s a fun business,” Mike Whincup said.
Fiorenza Arigoni is a Sarasota immigrant who decided to trade the shores of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland for the shores of the Gulf Coast. She is also a licensed massage therapist and acupuncturist. She relieves pain in others. How she went from the Swiss Alps to Gulf Coast beaches is a story of hard work and perseverance.
Fiorenza grew up in the Italian Alps speaking 3 languages; French, German, and Italian. When she was 22 she spent a year in the States and quickly felt at home. She enjoyed the energy and the feeling of great potential. She couldn’t stay in the US at that time so she returned to Switzerland, started a small business selling ice cream, and started a family.
10 years later two friends of Fiorenza’s made the move to the States, started a new business, Life Force Academy, and wrote back telling her she should come over too. With the marriage ending and 4 young children she decided it was time to look for new opportunities. She moved to the US to live and work.
Once she arrived she immediately began studying. The ice cream business was no longer for her, she wanted to relieve pain in others, so she went first to Massage Therapy School and later to Acupuncture School. She obtained student visas for her children and kept renewing B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas for herself. This uncertain situation continued for several years while Fiorenza worked to obtain her license.
Fiorenza’s legal status stabilized in 2000 when Life Force Academy sponsored her for an H-1B Work Visa to work for them as an acupuncturist. One year later she applied for obtained a Green Card. A few years after that she obtained US citizenship.
Today Fiorenza makes house calls on behalf of Life Force Academy. She helps Sarasota residents free themselves from pain through acupuncture and massage therapy. She absolutely loves what she does and it shows. Her clients have written such testimonials as:
26 years ago I had Colles fracture on my right wrist. I had many different treatments, including 5 injections on my cervical spine, without results. After 26 years, Fiorenza gave me relief with acupuncture; my hand straightened out and I can use it and my fingers normally. She also takes care of my arthritis and my old age aches and pains. My sinus pain disappears within minutes from the acupuncture treatments.
Fiorenza Arigoni combines her background as a skilled massage therapist with her expertise as a licensed acupuncturist beautifully. Her knowledge about the workings of the human body, from both Western and Eastern perspectives, is a boon to us, her clients, in the maintenance of all-around good health.
She plans to continue working for Life Force Academy and expanding her client base. She is truly living her dream.
To contact Fiorenza visit her website: lifeforceacademy.com or call: 941-284-6476.