4 Trusted Traveler Programs That Save You Time (and Stress) at U.S. Airport Security

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).

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Emperor Akihito’s Curious Speech

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.

We’re Married! Let’s Move to the U.S.! – Bringing Your Foreign-Citizen Spouse Into the U.S. (July 2020)

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.

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Bongs and Busts – the Danger of State Cannabis Laws to Non-U.S. Citizens

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.

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Resource for Doing Business in the U.S. – Installment #7 – Labor & Employment

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.

The Hidden Cost Of “Going Home” — the Expatriation Tax for Long-Term Permanent Residents Who Return to Their Home Countries

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:

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Overcoming Past Indiscretions — Getting Into Canada

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?

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DOJ’s New FCPA “Pilot Program” Targets Corporate Officers and Other Individuals

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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Resource for Doing Business in the U.S. – Installment #6 – Immigration Matters

iStock U.S. Flags and Wall Street SignYou have a plan for doing business in the U.S.  Now who is going to help make that happen? As companies get ready to do business in the U.S. they often delay in thinking about one key matter: making sure the people needed to implement their strategy can obtain the visas or other permission required to work in the U.S. Some U.S. hiring is possible, of course, but often key personnel are needed from abroad. If you’re going to be sending someone like Oscar winning Penélope Cruz, it may be easy to verify that a visa is available. Sometimes even experienced business personnel or their contemplated jobs, however, do not match what the U.S. immigration authorities require. Even a visa for a superstar can take a significant amount of time to arrange. It’s terrible when a project gets delayed or cannot take off because the right person isn’t ready with the right work authorization.

The next installment in GSB’s Resource for Doing Business in the U.S. sets out the basic visa options for working in the U.S. It outlines the types of visas and the associated process and requirements, which should help in timely and efficient planning.

Your comments are welcome!

Chinese Banks Contemplate Accepting Equity for Bad Loans

China economyAs China continues to grapple with a slowing economy, its banks are facing an increasing number of overdue loans.  Companies large and small, particularly in the industrial sectors, are finding themselves heavily indebted and dealing with substantial overcapacity issues.  In this climate, a new strategy has recently emerged that may provide some relief to both banks and companies: paying off overdue debt with company equity.  However, while banks and companies may see short-term benefits from improvements to their balance sheets flowing from such arrangements, some experts are predicting that banks taking equity interests in struggling companies will only put off hard choices and ultimately prevent a necessary, long-term reorganization of the economy.  Read more at The New York Times DealBook.

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