International Law

Investor Visas – Where to Invest in Florida

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Investor Visas

There are several types of investor visas that international citizens can apply for in order to conduct business in the state of Florida. Two of the most common visas are the E2 Investor Visa and the EB5 Employment Creator Visa. These visas allow foreign investors, their spouses, and any unmarried children under 21 to take up residence in the state of Florida.

In order to qualify for the E2 Investor Visa, you must be a citizen of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. Successful applicants for the E2 Investor Visa must be willing to create and maintain a bona-fide enterprise in the state of Florida, as well as make a substantial investment in the company. This investment must be considered a “real” investment, meaning that you may be subject to partial or complete loss of your investment.

Unlike the E2 Investor Visa, the EB5 Employment Creator Visa allows you and your immediate family members to obtain green cards and permanent residency in the United States. You may apply for this visa regardless of your country’s treaty status with the United States. To obtain the E2 Investor Visa, you must invest at least $500,000 in a business located in a rural or high unemployment area, or at least $1 million if the business is not located in one of these areas.

Investing in Florida

Florida businesses are incredibly diverse, and the state’s tax environment is a large draw for both domestic and foreign investors. Additionally, Florida is very welcoming to foreign investors and corporations – total holdings by non-U.S. companies in the Sunshine State currently exceed $40 billion.

Where to invest depends largely on your strengths and business interests, as well as the Florida region that is best suited for those enterprises. For example, if you have experience in real estate you may consider that South Florida communities – especially those in the Miami area – have particularly strong real estate markets. Miami is also considered the leading center of international banking within the United States, making it a smart location to invest if you are interested in opening a stateside branch of an existing international banking corporation.  For those interested in a tech-related investment, metropolitan Orlando is emerging as a major player in this market.

Florida’s low sales tax and zero income tax make it incredibly appealing to entrepreneurs and investors in many industries. Regardless of the enterprise you invest in, you will find Florida to be a welcoming state with plenty of lucrative investment opportunities for foreign investment.

Foreign Corporations in Florida

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What is a Foreign Corporation?

A foreign corporation is any business whose initial incorporation was filed in a foreign country or in a state other than Florida. Limited Liability Companies and Partnerships can also be considered foreign corporations. Businesses with foreign corporation status must achieve Foreign Qualification in order to conduct business in the state of Florida.

Qualification for Foreign Corporations

Foreign Qualification is the process of registering a business or Limited Liability Company as a foreign entity in the state in which it would like to operate – in this case, Florida. Foreign Qualification in Florida is necessary even if a company operates entirely online, so long as your company has servers or conducts banking business in the state.

In order to formally register your corporation in Florida, you will need an original copy of your company’s articles of incorporation (no more than 90 days old), a cover letter, a completed “Application by Foreign Corporation for Authorization to Transact Business in Florida” and a registered agent located in the state of Florida. This agent will be the only person that Florida recognizes to receive important documents including legal documents, statements from the IRS, and official communication from state agencies. The agent must have a Florida address other than a P.O. box and must be available for communications during normal business hours. It is highly recommended that your foreign corporation’s registered agent is a lawyer or attorney – this is especially useful in the event that your corporation encounters legal complications or is sued in Florida.

If you are registering a Limited Liability Company in Florida, you must include “Limited Liability Corporation,” “L.L.C.”, or “LLC” in your company’s official title. Your company must also be distinguishable from other companies by name in the Florida Department of State. If your company name is already in use, you must adopt another name in order to conduct business in Florida.

Operating a Foreign Corporation in Florida

It is important to note that you will be required to file an annual report in order to retain “active” status in Florida. The first report will be due between January 1st and May 1st of the year following your foreign corporation’s registration in Florida, and there is a $400 fine imposed for failure to file this report in a timely manner. Other than this mandatory report, operating your foreign corporation in Florida will be much like operating your business in your home state.

Domestication of Foreign Judgements in Florida

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What is a Foreign Judgement?

A foreign judgment is defined as a legal judgment made in a jurisdiction outside of your own. A judgment made in a state outside of Florida is considered a foreign judgment, as is a judgment made in a country other than the United States. Under the Florida Domestication of Foreign Judgements Act, a Florida court has the ability to enforce or “domesticate” a judgment made in a state other than Florida. Florida’s Uniform Out-of-country Foreign Money-Judgment Recognition Act ensures that Floridian courts can enforce judgments made in foreign countries.

Determining if a Foreign Judgment Can Be Enforced

In order to be enforced, a foreign judgment must meet certain standards set forth by Florida Statutes. These typically have to do with the validity of the court system and proceedings that led to the foreign judgment. A foreign judgment will not be recognized by Florida courts if:

  • It is rendered under a system that is not impartial or is incompatible with the due process of the law.
  • The foreign court did not have jurisdiction over either the defendant or the subject matter.
  • The defendant did not receive notice of the proceedings with adequate time to defend him/herself.
  • The judgment was obtained by fraud.
  • The judgment conflicts with another final or conclusive order.

The full list of grounds for nonrecognition of a foreign judgment can be found in Section 55.605 of the Florida Statutes. If you are not sure whether you qualify for a foreign judgment, you may want to consult a lawyer who is familiar with these cases.

Claiming a Foreign Judgment

In order to domesticate a foreign judgment, the plaintiff or plaintiff’s counsel must submit certain documents to an office of the clerk of the circuit court in Florida. While this can be done in any Florida county, it is strongly advisable that you file in the county in which the assets you would like to seize or take a lien against are located.

The documents needed to claim a foreign judgment are a certified copy of the judgment from the court that awarded the judgment to you, and an affidavit with the name, social security number (if possible), and last known address of both you (the judgment collector) and the judgment debtor.

The clerk will record the judgment and affidavit and send a notice to the judgment debtor. The debtor then has 30 days after the notice is provided in which he or she can challenge the validity of the judgment. This will only happen in very rare instances. If the judgment debtor takes no action, the judgment will be considered final and will have the same effect as a judgment made in Florida. At this time, you will be permitted to follow Florida’s judgment collection procedures and the courts can place liens on real property located in the county of recording.

Florida – Cuba Relations

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The United States, and Florida in particular, have had a complicated relationship with Cuba for over 50 years. The complications began when since Fidel Castro gained control of the country in 1959, spurring millions of Cubans to immigrate to the U.S. in hopes of finding freedom and better opportunities.

Florida and the Cuban Adjustment Act

The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, commonly known for its “wet foot/dry foot” policy, is the act under which Cubans were able to immigrate to the United States from 1966 to 2017. Under this act, if would-be Cuban immigrants were intercepted en route from Cuba to the United States, they were required to return to Cuba. If they were able to set foot on American soil however, they would be permitted to stay and live in the U.S. After a year, these immigrants had the opportunity to become United States citizens. Florida was the destination of choice for most immigrants, and over 1.2 million Cuban Americans call the state home.

Resumed Relationships between U.S and Cuba

In December of 2014, President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced a restoration of the diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States. The effect on Florida was immediate: in the two years that followed, the Florida Coast guard reported an increase in the number of Cubans attempting the crossing between Cuba and Florida. Between 2015 and 2016, the number had nearly doubled as over 5,600 Cubans sought to reach the state of Florida. The reason for the increase was Cuban fear that resumed relationships between Cuba and the United States would also mean the end of the Cuban Adjustment Act. These fears were validated in January 2017, when the Obama administration called for an immediate end to the policy.

Cuba’s Influence in Florida

The repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act by no means lessened Cuba’s impact on the United States, however. Cuban Americans are the fifth-largest ethnic group in the United States and their influence is felt most strongly in Florida, where Cuban American voters make up the most Republican Latino group and contribute to the state’s already-unpredictable swing vote.

Floridian Cuban American immigrants have strong views about immigration policies as well as increased economic activity between the U.S. and Cuba. This means that political events in Cuba can become strong predictors of how Cuban Americans in Florida may vote in local, state, and national elections. Polls demonstrate that the political actions of the United States toward Cuba have largely been in line with the desires of Cuban American immigrants, and can perhaps attest to their influence upon foreign policy. For now, Floridians can expect to see fewer Cuban immigrants in the coming years but should keep an eye on news from Cuba during future election cycles.

International Law Attorney

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What is an International Law Attorney?

An International Law Attorney is a lawyer who mainly focuses on the disputes of affairs that occur on an international basis. They may include, but are not limited to, international criminal issues or business trade. This type of practice also includes treaties and customs instead of the domestic legislature that comes from national or municipal law. Where the domestic law focuses on legal issues of what’s going on within the nation, international law attorneys focus on affairs that include other nations as well.

Who needs an International Law Attorney in Florida?

When it comes to deciding who would need an International Law Attorney, you’d want to focus on what issues are at hand and ask yourself the following questions: Does my issue involve me being out of the country? Does it involve other nations? Am I myself outside of the country? If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, then you’ll want to look for an International Law Attorney.

When looking for one, you’ll want someone who is available to travel anywhere outside of the United States in order to represent their clients as well as someone who can handle intake and dispute resolution through the use of telephone conferences or other ways of communicating across great distances. The ability for your lawyer to be able to communicate is a great factor when it comes to this type of law because often times, other customs and languages are being practiced and need to be considered so as to avoid miscommunication or misrepresentation.

It is also important to seek out someone who is able to adjust their methods of dispute resolution depending on their client. Finding someone who is well seasoned in many different areas of international law will ensure that you are hiring a person who is able to adjust their way of approaching a situation so as to best benefit their client. This is important because you want to avoid trying to ‘stick a square peg into a round hole’ and experience in many areas of international law is a fantastic way to be sure you’re working with someone who will be a chameleon for your case.