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Almost everyone approaching the U.S. consumer market has heard nightmares about lawsuits and read damaging headlines from consumer claims.  These range from industry wide antitrust investigations to criminal indictments for racketeering to class actions for deceptive advertising.

In May this year, U.S., Canadian and Mexican government officials met to discuss cooperation in enforcing antitrust laws in an increasingly global market place, suggesting even greater cooperative activity in the antitrust arena relating to global markets. 

With news of the resumption of commercial aviation flights to Cuba, and other changes in the Cuba embargo accomplished through Presidential executive order, it would appear at first blush that the time is ripe to travel to Cuba to investigate commercial opportunities there. But appearances can be deceiving, and we wanted to report on the reality of Cuba travel and the opportunities there:

Because this is an “International” blog, we need to talk about one of the most important aspects of international business –  travel.

And as you know, we are in the thick of the travel season. So it only makes sense to A) take stock of the best way to navigate the unpleasantness of flying, and B) to learn from the mistakes of others (me).

Japanese Emperor Akihito, who is 82 and reportedly in failing health, gave a rare speech this Monday that suggested much more than what he actually said.  Emperor Akihito has served in the symbolic position for 27 years and has battled various health issues, including cancer.  During his speech, he expressed doubt that he would be able to continue fulfilling the duties of the emperor as he ages, but refrained from suggesting that he may leave the Chrysanthemum Throne.  So why can’t he just abdicate?  The answer is a unique interaction between the terms of Japan’s constitution and its post-war history.  After Japan surrendered to the Allies in August 1945, the Emperor’s father, Emperor Hirohito, renounced his divine status and agreed to a new constitution that removed all political power from the Chrysanthemum Throne and required that an emperor serve until death.  These changes to the authority of the emperor were extraordinary given the impressive power Emperor Hirohito had wielded prior to and during World War II.  But Emperor Hirohito took seriously the new ceremonial role, and Emperor Akihito has strictly followed that post-war tradition.  Today, Japan’s constitution binds Emperor Akihito to serve until death, but any suggestion that parliament should change the constitution could violate the Emperor’s careful avoidance of interference in the political affairs of Japan.  And so, Emperor Akihito hinted as strongly as possible in his speech that he would like to abdicate after his long years of service.  The next move belongs to parliament.

It may be surprising, but moving to the U.S. with your foreign-citizen spouse is not as simple as you might imagine.  If you are a U.S. citizen working abroad and considering moving back to the U.S. with your foreign-citizen spouse and/or children, it is never too early to begin planning for return to the U.S.

If you are living outside the U.S. and have a foreign-born spouse and/or children, it may have been quick and easy for them to travel to the U.S. on holiday.  But moving back to the U.S. is an entirely different story, requiring government filings and significant lead time of as much as a year or even more.

This article was first published on GSB’s Cannabis Business Blog.

Seattle, Washington, where I practice, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S.  Its natural beauty and cosmopolitan vibe are two of its biggest attractions.  But increasingly, Cannabis Tourism has been a draw.  That’s because Washington State, like Colorado, Oregon and Alaska, has legalized cannabis – also known as marijuana, for sale and personal use in the state.

But people who are not U.S. citizens[1] need to understand that these state laws do not protect them from extreme danger.  The federal government still considers cannabis to be a “controlled substance,” and the purchase, possession and/or use of cannabis is still a federal crime that could result in denied admission, deportation, and/or being barred from return – even if state law says it is perfectly legal.

iStock U.S. Flags and Wall Street SignIn our latest installment of our Resource for Doing Business in the U.S., we focus on key laws an investor in the U.S. needs to know when employing personnel in the U.S. These laws apply whether the personnel are transferred from abroad or hired locally – and, as you will see, there can be laws related to employees at the local, state and federal level. It’s definitely an area where one cannot merely assume the laws will be similar to the laws at home. The laws also vary state to state and city to city within the U.S. To avoid exposing their employers to significant risks, even experienced Human Resources managers seek legal advice in this area.

By way of introduction to the topic, the installment you find here sets out the basics of what you need to know as a new U.S. employer. GSB also offers AdviceOnline, a resource for employers that dives into much greater depth on various labor and employment related matters. It is a useful tool to help our clients deal with some routine undertakings on their own, and also to know when it is best to seek legal assistance.

We hope these tools are useful in providing you the necessary guidance to minimize legal claims from personnel and to keep your workforce happier.

AirplacePeople immigrate to the United States for many different reasons. Many come here for work reasons and, somewhere along the way, obtain permanent resident status, otherwise known as holding a “green card.” They may work in the U.S. for most of their careers, raising children and becoming integrated into the social fabric of their community. But for various reasons, some will wish to “go home” when they retire. Maybe the home country offers better healthcare. Maybe even after many years in the U.S., they feel more comfortable speaking their native language. Maybe their closest relatives are in their home country, and they feel that they need a support network as they age. Maybe the food is better.

Whatever the reason, those who have been green card holders for a long time (specifically, 8 out of the previous 15 tax years) need to be mindful of the so-called “expatriation tax.” The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (the “HEART Act”) imposes a tax at the time of departure on U.S. citizens who have renounced their citizenship and on those who renounce their long-term permanent resident status after June 17, 2008. The HEART Act expatriation rules apply to those who, at the time of expatriation:

As many of you probably have in these past few weeks, I’ve been enjoying the NBA playoffs. Perhaps not as many of you have been wondering what I have been contemplating: how is it that NBA players with criminal pasts are admitted entry into Canada to play against the Toronto Raptors NBA team? As a Washington resident, I’m aware, due solely to proximity, not experience, that U.S. citizens with criminal pasts have found trouble entering Canada. Specifically, I’ve heard stories of U.S. citizens being barred entry thanks to decades-old driving under the influence convictions. So how is it that I’ve never heard of a famous athlete being barred entry? Did I miss it?

Magnifying glass on docFor years, FCPA observers have predicted that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will increase its prosecutions of corporate officers and employees for FCPA violations. These predictions have so far proven disputable, as the number of individual FCPA prosecutions has remained essentially flat and DOJ has struggled to convict individual FCPA defendants. However, high-ranking DOJ and SEC officials have recently stated their commitment to focus more on individual FCPA violators. DOJ has affirmed its focus with last fall’s Deputy Attorney General’s Memorandum on Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing (the “Yates Memo”).

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About Us
The International Practice Group of Garvey Schubert Barer is a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics, and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. The firm’s attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s. 
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