International Business

Cohen & Grigsby’s International Business Group serves the sophisticated needs of a broad and varied client base throughout the United States and the world. We advise clients globally on a wide range of international matters, including transnational tax planning and compliance, immigration, inbound and outbound mergers and acquisitions, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) matters and import/export controls. We represent foreign companies doing business in the United States as well as U.S. companies investing abroad.

As part of the Firm’s Culture of Performance, we strive to deliver extraordinary service to our clients. This emphasis is evident in our International Business Group through several innovations. First, we have developed concentrations in the key areas of Customs, Export Controls, International Tax Advisory Services and Immigration to provide clients with focused, broad spectrum expertise. In addition, our group draws on the services of a CBP consultant as well as an international network of attorneys and accountants that provides quick answers to international legal and tax questions and adds significant value to our clients.

Inbound Transactions

Our group counsels foreign companies and investors on their inbound U.S. investments. Specifically, we:

Establish the appropriate business entity from both legal and tax perspectives

  • Create offshore holding companies to finance the U.S. and international operations of multinational corporations
  • Structure U.S. limited partnerships to afford foreign investors limited liability while minimizing their overall tax burden by subjecting the income of the U.S. business to U.S. tax at individual rates and avoiding foreign tax on repatriation of earnings
  • Create finance companies, or use existing companies, to hold the stock of U.S. companies and accumulate income free of state tax

Provide ongoing legal and tax planning

  • Advise foreign manufacturers on the particulars of U.S. product liability and environmental laws
  • Protect intellectual property rights, including technological know-how, patents and trademarks
  • Use applicable U.S. and foreign income tax treaties to maximize tax planning opportunities
  • Develop plans to minimize the branch profits tax and the effect of “earnings stripping” rules
  • Counsel on immigration issues involving key executives, managers and skilled employees
  • Help employers and employees obtain non-immigrant visas (primarily in the E, H and L categories), labor certification and permanent resident status
  • Obtain “Blanket L-1” status for multinational corporations, enabling foreign companies to transfer key employees to their U.S. subsidiaries without proceeding through the INS, reducing the process from six weeks to one day
  • Prepare family-based petitions for immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents
  • File applications for political asylum and litigate deportation/exclusion trials
  • Counsel employers on various reporting requirements (including those related to Form I-9) and defend employers involved in related litigation

Advise clients on CBP issues

  • Represent clients responding to routine and investigatory CBP inquiries
  • Help clients structure import activities to comply with CBP laws while minimizing duties
  • Review import procedures and develop comprehensive customs import compliance manuals and internal compliance programs tailored to clients’ specific importing requirements
  • Conduct C-TPAT security reviews and develop C-TPAT security profiles shaped by client needs
  • Consult with importers on special trade and customs programs including NAFTA, C-TPAT, bonded warehouses, TIB, application of Section 201 sanctions and quota/visa
  • Consult with importers on specific compliance issues including, where appropriate, submission of “prior disclosures”
  • Prepare binding ruling requests
  • Represent clients in seizure and liquidated damage proceedings
  • Assist clients in resolving import issues at the port of entry
  • Consult with importers on ADD/CVD requirements, textile visa/quota requirements, category specifications, classification and appraisement, compliance issues and shipping requirements
  • Consult in all areas of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (GRIs, Chapters 1-99), concentrating in textiles, machinery and the other primary focus industries
  • Consult on the Customs Modernization Act, informed compliance and “reasonable care”
  • Advise on civil and criminal violations in all areas of CBP law: commercial fraud (country of origin issues, ADD/CVD violations, counterfeiting, trademark and copyright infringements); export violations (Department of State and Department of Commerce license violations); smuggling and currency violations (money laundering, import and export of undeclared currency)
  • Consult on all aspects of district/port operations including inspectional, commercial operations and criminal investigations
  • Assist clients in preparing for Focused Assessment Audits

Help individuals and businesses comply with tax and banking regulations

  • Prepare forms 1040NR (Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return) and 706NA (Nonresident Estate Tax Return)
  • Prepare documentary evidence of compliance with new transfer pricing rules to avoid penalties
  • Advise clients about forms, such as forms W-8, 1042 and 8804, for foreign-owned companies
  • Maintain bank accounts and conduct banking for foreign clients

International Estate Planning for Foreign Nationals

Foreign nationals living in the United States face a number of issues related to their personal estates. To help them meet those challenges, our attorneys:

  • Prepare U.S. wills, trusts (including qualified domestic trusts) and estate plans for resident and non-resident foreign nationals with U.S. real estate, securities and business holdings
  • Reorganize U.S. investments of foreign nationals, using tax-planning opportunities under applicable estate tax treaties and U.S. estate and gift tax law
  • Probate wills and administer U.S. estates of foreign nationals
  • Coordinate U.S. and foreign estate tax law with estate tax treaties to minimize tax obligations

Outbound Transactions

Our group advises U.S. companies and individuals on their outbound foreign investments and on exporting their products and skills. Among many services, we:

Establish the appropriate business entity from both legal and tax perspectives

  • Create international joint venture and licensing agreements in South America, Europe and the Pacific Rim
  • Create global alliances among companies based in different countries but producing the same product, whether those alliances are structured as joint ventures, joint purchasing and sales units or as some other vehicle
  • Advise clients on the export approach – export directly to foreign customers, use an intermediary sales representative or distributor, establish foreign branches – that best takes advantage of U.S. and foreign tax laws as well as applicable treaties
  • Structure the ownership and activities of foreign corporations to avoid current U.S. income taxation under Subpart F rules, foreign personal holding company rules or passive foreign investment company rules

Provide legal support for trade with, and investment in, China

  • Help clients identify appropriate forms of investment in China, such as equity joint ventures, contractual joint ventures or subsidiary license arrangements, that are compliant with legal, tax, intellectual property, labor, currency and administrative restrictions
  • Help clients resolve legal and non-legal problems in China using mediation, arbitration, administrative procedures and legal actions
  • Assist clients in drafting legal documents
  • Assist clients in identifying Chinese partners
  • Arrange trips and negotiations in China
  • Advise clients on compliance with Chinese governmental and administrative procedures

Provide information and counsel on export controls and incentives

  • Advise clients on their obligations under U.S. Export Control Regulations and Foreign Assets Control Regulations and assist clients in developing internal export compliance programs
  • Counsel clients on specific programs, such as Overseas Private Investment Corporation financing and insurance, designed to stimulate U.S. exports