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OFAC Specific License Lawyer

Certain activities and transactions otherwise prohibited by U.S. sanctions laws may be permitted if you are granted authorization. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has two types of licenses: general and specific.

A general license operates as an exemption to the broad OFAC sanctions regulations and allows certain transactions and activities that would be otherwise prohibited under the relevant sanctions program.

Specific license applications are submitted to OFAC and, when granted, permit you to engage in specific activity(ies) or transaction(s) that would otherwise violate the OFAC sanctions regime at issue. In contrast to general licenses, a specific license requires a written application to be submitted to OFAC and may only be used by the person or entity to whom the license was issued and only for the specific purpose(s)  authorized by the specific license.

The issuance of specific licenses allows OFAC to ensure that transactions and activities consistent with U.S. interests are permitted without imposing a blanket prohibition on all possible activities and transactions. Specific license applications are submitted via mail or OFAC’s online portal. After you submit the application, OFAC reviews the application, along with the provided supporting information and documents, to determine whether to issue the requested specific license.

WHAT SHOULD I PUT IN A SPECIFIC LICENSE APPLICATION?

A specific license application submission to OFAC must include details on the proposed transaction or activity, the names and addresses of all parties involved (including customers and middlemen who are involved in the transaction), and any required additional details. It is also important to include in the submission why the requested activity or transaction is consistent with or not harmful to U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.

While no official burden of proof exists for a specific license application, it is important that the application be thorough and suitable for the licensing officers who will be reviewing your case. This means that providing supporting documentation that shows the purpose of the application is vital to a successful submission.

WILL MY SPECIFIC LICENSE APPLICATION BE APPROVED BY OFAC?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your specific license application will be granted. OFAC policies often experience vast shifts, usually due to changing administrations and new-coming executive appointments. Because of this, there is a level of volatility when applying for a specific license.

Hiring Washington DC OFAC licenses attorneys that are experienced and specialized in the field of sanctions law would nevertheless improve the likelihood of submitting a successful specific license application. The OFAC Sanctions Lawyers at the Zarkesh Law Firm, P.C. would be more than happy to assist you through the process.

SHOULD I APPLY FOR AN OFAC LICENSE?

It gets a bit technical here, so bear with us. The first question is of jurisdiction which requires that you determine whether you are subject to OFAC’s jurisdiction. If you are a U.S. person, which includes U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents, or a person or entity located in the U.S., you must comply with OFAC regulations. Organizations incorporated in the U.S., in addition to their foreign branches, are also required to comply with OFAC regulations. Failure to do so may result in civil or criminal penalties. If you or your organization are based outside of the United States, then seeking a specific license for otherwise prohibited transactions and activities may not be necessary unless you have a significant connection to the United States including the use of US dollar-based transactions through US financial institutions.

If you have determined that you may hold legal obligations to comply with OFAC sanctions regulations, the second question is whether the relevant sanctions program prohibits your proposed transaction or activity. Your proposed activity and transactions may be covered by a general license, for instance, if the proposed activity falls under OFAC’s definition of humanitarian aid. In that case, you would not need a specific license. Figuring all of this out, however, can get quite tricky.

As always, the safest and best course of action we recommend is to consult an OFAC Specific License Lawyer who specializes in OFAC sanctions law. The OFAC Sanctions Lawyers at the Zarkesh Law Firm, P.C. would be more than happy to consult you on your specific license application.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE SPECIFIC LICENSE AUTHORIZATION FROM OFAC?

Much like any other process with OFAC, there is no way to tell OFAC’s timeline on processing a specific license application. On average it takes between six to nine months to provide a decision on basic specific license applications (typically for simple transactions) while more complex applications (usually multiple sets of transactions under different sanctions regulatory provisions) may take OFAC up to a year or longer to process.

Newly submitted specific license applications are piled onto the existing queue of requests and applications. The small staff of licensing officers directly handle these cases in chronological order based on the submission date. Submitting a through specific license request, ideally with assistance from an OFAC attorney, maybe the best course of action to ensure timely processing and avoiding setbacks.

OFAC does allow applicants to call in for a status update on their submitted applications. In some instances, the OFAC operator may even put an applicant in touch with the licensing officer responsible for reviewing their application. OFAC has also recently updated their license application page to allow a status check of your license application on their online license portal.

CAN I APPEAL OFAC’S DECISION ON MY OFAC SPECIFIC LICENSE APPLICATION?

Since OFAC’s decision on a specific license application is considered a “final agency action,” it is possible to appeal a denial. This appeal would have to be taken up in a federal court. An appeal in federal court, however, would be hard to win as courts defer to determinations made by federal agencies like OFAC. Instead, an unsatisfied applicant may be better off re-submitting the application to OFAC with new information to consider.

DO I NEED A OFAC LICENSE LAWYER TO FILE AND SUBMIT A SPECIFIC LICENSE APPLICATION?

OFAC regulations can often be confusing and complicated for most people. A Washington DC OFAC licenses attorney with experience in submitting successful specific license applications can offer a preliminary evaluation of the requested transaction or activity. This way you will know what to expect, and whether the request is plausible with consideration to the relevant political climate and current licensing policies at OFAC.

The OFAC Sanctions Attorneys at the Zarkesh Law Firm, P.C. represent clients in need of:

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