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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Workshop: Geschäftsreisen in die USA

Erfolgreiche Planung, Business Visa, Global Entry Program und interkulturelle Basics

In Kooperation mit der American Chamber of Commerce in Germany e.V., dem US-General-Konsulat Frankfurt/M.,  und der IHK Reutlingen, veranstaltet BridgehouseLaw in Tübingen einen Workshop zum Thema „Geschäftsreisen in die USA“. Die kostenfreie Halbtagesveranstaltung findet am Mittwoch, den 04. November 2015 ab 16:00 Uhr (Voraussichtliches Ende: 20:00 Uhr) in den Räumlichkeiten des Deutsch-Amerikanischen Institutes Tübingen statt. Auf dem Tagesprogramm stehen Vorträge von Referenten, unter anderem auch von Vertretern des US-Generalkonsulats, die tagtäglich von den Herausforderungen und Schwierigkeiten des Visaprozesses und den interkulturellen Unterschieden betroffen sind. Der Workshop soll eine grundlegende Einführung in die wichtigsten Themen vermitteln und offene Fragen und Unsicherheiten in Bezug auf Geschäftsreisen in die USA beseitigen.

Anmeldung erforderlich bis Fr. 30.10. unter,
die Anzahl der Plätze ist begrenzt

Das Tagesprogramm und das Anmeldeformular finden sie hier

Beschreibung d.a.i:

Wer häufig beruflich in die USA reist, steht vor vielen Fragen, die nicht nur die Einreise betreffen, sondern auch das professionelle Verhalten vor Ort. Was ist die TSA? Welches Visum benötige ich (B-, H-, L- oder E-Visum?) oder kann ich sogar ohne Visum reisen? Dieser Workshop, bei dem auch Vertreter des US-Generalkonsulats anwesend sein werden, gibt Ihnen eine grundlegende Einführung in die wichtigsten Themen.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The 'How To's' of obtaining an EB-5 and Regional Center Designation

As referenced in our September Newsletter, an EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors is a United States visa created to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Recently, USCIS kindly reminded organizations that Regional Center names should not contain the words "United States," "U.S.," "US." or "Federal" in their name because it could falsely imply a relationship between the entity and a government agency.
So what does an organization do after adhering to the naming limitations? Well, there are two methods an organization can fund a project with EB-5 capital: through a direct investment or through a Regional Center. The Regional Center can be the more attractive option as the designation makes some USCIS requirements less stringent for EB-5 visa applicants. Direct investments focus on direct job creation whereas Regional Centers focus on indirect or induced full-time job creation. However, a particular organization's specific needs will always be the determining factor of whether a Regional Center designation is most advantageous.
Although nearly anyone can apply for Regional Center designation, business models that are eligible to become EB-5 Regional Centers include partnerships, corporations, government agencies, and any other existing U.S. commercial entity. There are several steps, which an organization must take in order to obtain EB-5 Regional Center designation and approval from USCIS. An organization must:
1)    Determine the geographic scope and economic benefit of their project, which includes determining the operational business model, the amount required to invest, and the focus of the business.
2)    Acquire the services of professionals that will be imperative to producing documents USCIS require for Regional Center filing. These individuals include, but are not limited to a business plan consultant/writer; securities/compliance counsel; and, an economist.
3)    Submit an I-924 Petition. Immigration attorneys with the help of the individuals listed above would typically file the I-924 application. The processing time for the application typically takes between four (4) and ten (10) months, although it may take longer if additional information is requested and required. After the initial approval, the Regional Center must also file an I-924A Supplement for each fiscal year as a means of proving that it has followed all EB-5 program regulations and is still eligible for Regional Center designation.
4)    Submit I-526 Petitions. Upon I-924 approval, the Regional Center cannot submit the EB-5 investors petition (I-526), which outlines the specific projects that the Regional Center will be conducting and will produce document evidence of such projects.   Once approved, the EB-5 investor is able to obtain their conditional green card so they may move to the United States.
5)    Monitor and Maintain. The Regional Center must track the job creation requirements for its projects, file an annual compliance report, and make filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other state and local agencies that regulate securities.
6)    Submit I-829 Petition. This petition allows the Regional Center to further demonstrate that it has met all the requirements of the EB-5 program. Once approved, this allows the investor to receive lawful permanent resident status in the United States.
Currently, there are over 200 Regional Centers that have been approved by the USCIS and have been an effective tool for economic development. EB-5 Regional Centers have become an increasingly important source of financing since the 2008 financial crisis. The EB-5 program has also become a more reliable manner for foreign investors to obtain U.S. residence application approval.
Well-run Regional Centers have demonstrated that they can foster high-quality, long-term job creation and diversified economic development while maintaining the required ethical standards; however, despite the EB-5 program continues to grown, legislative reform is needed to expand, strengthen, and permanently authorize this provisional program.
For further information about obtaining an EB-5 or Regional Centers, please contact BridgehouseLaw.

Uber drivers: Contractor or Employee?

More and more people use Uber to get from point A to point B and it has become a real threat to many taxi companies. But what is Uber? Why is it so popular and why is the recent lawsuit considered to be a crucial strike for its business model?
To many passengers Uber has become almost a synonym for taxis. The Uber app allows the passengers to connect with drivers. The app also takes care of all payments through charging the passenger's credit card, taking a certain percentage for itself, and putting the remaining amount into the driver"s account. No cash needed. There are several different levels of service available starting with transportation in every-day town cars or, if requested, more pricey rides in high end cars or larger vehicles such as SUVs.
On Tuesday 8th 2015, a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit questioning the employment qualifications of Uber's drivers. This could be crucial for Uber's business strategy as it will allow a jury to decide on whether or not Uber drivers should be considered employeesor 1099 contractors. In his ruling, the judge certified that drivers who directly contracted with Uber and largely those who where drivers before June 2014 would be included in the class-action. Currently, Uber is not required to pay payroll taxes for their 1099 contractors. Minimum wage as well as overtime lawsalso do not apply to 1099 contractors. According to an article in the New York Times, classifying workers as contractors was Uber's way of keeping labor costs low. A ruling against Uberwould therefore result in implications for its more than 160,00 drivers. It would change the whole financial landscape of how Uber does business. While many drivers are willing to state that they appreciate being 1099 contractors and therefore not being bound by any kind of schedule, in a recent lawsuit the California Labor Commissioner's Office ruled in favor of a former Uber driver. The court held that she should be considered a employee and ordered Uber to pay more than $4,000 in expenses and other costs for the two months she worked as a driver. While the decision on the class-action lawsuit will not be forthcoming in the near future only time will tell if Uber can survive the battle as to whether their drivers are considered employees or 1099 contractors.

Fighting Cyber Crime

Cyber crimes are crimes committed using the internet or other forms of computer technology. As the internet has become such an important part of our lives, fighting these crimes is more and more relevant for everyone who wishes to safely use said technologies. However, no crime is as border less as cyber crimes are, making international cooperation a very necessary part of cyber crime fighting.

According to U.S. General Attorney Loretta Lynch the United States will therefore station a prosecutor in Europe with the European law enforcement agency "Europol" in order to make international cyber crime investigations easier. Europol is responsible for coordinating investigations all across Europe,targeting people trafficking, money laundering, counterfeiting and organized crime. As cyber crimes have become more numerous, they are also considered to pose a threat to the European Union. Europol director Rob Wainwright hopes that having a U.S. Prosecutor on board will convince large U.S.-based technology companies to engage in international cyber crime investigations. He believes these companies, such as Microsoft, to be vitally important for Europol's police work when it comes to hunting down cyber criminals. He stated that having access to their technology would be extremely useful especially when handling online child sexual exploitation and cyber attacks.

Prior collaboration has proofed to be a very efficient way of tackling these issues. Europol, together with its U.S. Partners, such as the FBI, the U.S.- Secret Service and ICE, managed tosucceed in many operations worldwide, resulting in the taking down of botnets (a number of computers that have been set up to forward transmissions without their owner's knowledge such as spam or viruses) and Tor hidden services (free software, enabling anonymous communication), and the arrest of criminals involved in sexual crimes against children online.

The deployment of a U.S. Prosecutor will formalize this collaboration and enable both parties to make quick decisions regarding ongoing investigations, improving international cyber crime fighting.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Online Data Protection: Consumer Protection or Fundamental Right?

On October 6, 2015, Europe’s highest court, The European Court of Justice (ECJ), ruled that the long-standing international agreement called “Safe Harbor” was immediately invalid.  Safe Harbor allowed companies to transfer the digital data of individuals between the U.S. and the E.U., as long as there was an “adequate” level of privacy protection.

The European Commission’s July 2000 decision to implement Safe Harbor was an attempt to regulate the E.U. and U.S.’s approach to privacy because the European Commission believed that an adequate level of protection lacked through domestic law or international commitments.  This level of protection gap stems from the different approaches the U.S. and E.U. have about online data security where the U.S. privacy is viewed as a consumer protection issue, but in Europe, privacy is viewed as a fundamental right, similar to rights granted in the U.S. Constitution.

Now with the ECJ’s ruling, the EU may make their own determinations as to how companies will collect and use information gathered on its citizens, which removes the uniformity among the EU nations with regard to data privacy.  Moreover, because there are thousands of U.S. companies, which are certified under Safe Harbor, there is a concern that without the means to transfer data from Europe to the U.S., trans-Atlantic trade will suffer.

The ECJ’s ruling suggests that there was not a problem with the Safe Harbor concept, but rather the lack of procedural safeguards in the Safe Harbor.  Therefore, until modifications to the Safe Harbor occur that may adequately protect the fundamental rights of the E.U. citizens whose data is being transferred to the U.S. and the U.S. passes legislation that restricts the power of the government to access personal data, there can no longer be transfers of data from the EU to the U.S.