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  • Thomas Rosenberg

How Can I Avoid Legal Problems Re:Immigration/Customs While Importing into Or Doing Business in US?

With regard to inbound international business, specifically into the U.S., we first will look at the goods, capital and/or services entering the U.S., to determine the applicable regulatory requirements, including regulations enforced by federal agencies such as DHS, CBP, EPA, FDA, USCIS, including immigration and customs laws and regulations.  In addition to the federal agency regulations, each state, county and municipal government agency maintains regulations, laws and ordinances which must be ascertained and analyzed as to potential compliance obligations.


Import of Products. Customs laws control the import of goods into the U.S. and enforce the import taxes (duties) paid on entering goods. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) is the regulatory agency primarily tasked with managing and enforcing customs laws. As a federal law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CBP regulates and facilitates international trade, and is tasked with collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. trade, customs, and immigration regulations.


Pursuant to Customs laws, the U.S. imposes tariffs or " duties" on the importation of goods, set as a percentage of the value of the incoming goods.  Generally, the duties are levied at the time of import and paid by the importer of record.  Customs duties vary based on factors such as a good’s country of origin, classification and other valuation factors.  In some cases, certain types of goods are exempt from duty regardless of the source country.  All goods entering the U.S. are subject to search by CBP, and failure to properly comply with customs rules can result in severe penalties.  CBP may impose penalties including the seizure of the imported goods, as well as civil and criminal penalties against persons involved.  In recent years, the U.S. has stepped up both the enforcement and reach of Customs law liability.


Import Compliance.  As far as goods being imported into the U.S., there are a number of checklist items to create, review analyze and implement when starting, including:


  • Research whether the goods you are seeking to have entered in the U.S. are subject to any import restrictions, safety or quality controls and bans.

  • Due diligence as to your export/import partners to establish the qualifications, abilities and export experience.

  • Assemble your international trade team including a customs broker, personnel with trade experience and legal advisors.

  • Determine whether any specific licenses and/or permits are necessary to import the goods.

  • Determine Customs issues including valuation, tariff classification, valuation, origin, free trade agreements (including NAFTA), as well as antidumping and countervailing duties

  • CBP Enforcement Actions and management


In addition to the foregoing, utilizing available government resources is highly suggested, including resources offered by the Small Business Association (SBA), U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), International Trade Administration (ITA), Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and SCORE offered by the SBA.


Immigration and Visa Considerations.  As to foreign personnel relating to inbound international business, we focus on developing a strategic plan based on current U.S. immigration laws and procedures.   In order for a non-US resident or citizen to enter and remain in the U.S., approval of a valid visa and/or immigration status is required.  Although the U.S. immigration laws are quite complex and somewhat difficult to navigate, there are many opportunities for a person to qualify for a work, investment or other type of visa.  Each individual’s situation, background and goals must be analyzed in order to determine the available options and to establish an action plan.  Careful planning and extensive supporting documentation are often necessary to obtain approval of immigration benefits.


RKF represents individuals, employers and institutions in a wide variety of immigration matters, and has a full service administrative immigration law and litigation practice.  RKF also has extensive experience in applying for immigration benefits, visas and other forms of relief.  We offer assistance with numerous types of visas (both immigrant and non-immigrant), such as investor visas/EB-5, employment related visas including:


Non-Immigrant (Temporary) Work & Visitor Visas


  • B-1 Business Visitor

  • E-1 Treaty Investor and E-2 Treaty Trader

  • H-1B Professional Worker

  • L-1A and L-1B Intercompany Transfer

  • TN NAFTA

  • O-1 Extraordinary Ability


Permanent Residency (“Green Card”) Immigration Categories


  • Permanent Labor Certifications

  • EB-1 First Preference Extraordinary Ability & Multinationals

  • EB-2 Second Preference and National Interest Waivers


In addition to the above categories, we also assist on other visas and immigration options such as Family-based petitions and permanent residency (“green card”) filings, including I-130/I-485 petitions, I-360 Self-petitions, N-400 Citizenship petitions, and other forms of available status and/or relief.  Additionally, we handle numerous other visa matters including government and Consular visas, Religious visas, Refugee and Asylum cases, J-1 Exchange Visitor visas and waivers, Extensions of Status, Employment Authorization, F-1 Student visas and retention of permanent resident status. We have handled numerous Immigration Court and Board of Immigration Appeals matters.


In order to assist a client, we generally conduct an in-depth interview with a prospective applicant to determine a tailored list of options that are available.


For more information on Inbound International Businesses and Potential Immigration Or Customs Legal Issues Or Problems To be aware of While Importing or Engaging In Inbound International Business or Investment, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (312) 888-2000 today.​

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