Tourist visa for a family member’s death

US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty Marco F.G. Tomakin - The Freeman

I got a phone call the other day from Rico who wanted to come to the US because his sister unexpectedly passed away. According to him, his sister had no immediate family members, was not married, and had no other relatives there. At this time, the body remains at the funeral home and since there was no one to take care of her funeral services, no arrangements have been made yet. I asked if he had an idea whether his sister made a will or appointed an attorney-in-fact, he told me that he does not know if she ever did or if she did, he was not aware of it.

As far as he knows, his sister had substantial assets in terms of bank deposits, stocks, jewelry, and real properties both in the US and in the Philippines. He is now asking what he can do in order to come to the US. He just wants to make sure that his sister is buried properly and that her estate can be settled. He never applied a visa before nor does he have a pending immigrant visa application.

In this case, Rico could qualify for a tourist visa. His intentions to come to the US are temporary in nature thus qualifying him for the non-immigrant visa. It is important that he must show to the consular officer that he has sufficient ties to return to the Philippines and that he would do the permitted activities expected of a tourist visa holder. He may even qualify for an expedited visa appointment considering the nature of his circumstances.

Another more important issue on this case is that we must all consider having a will, an executor, administrator, or an attorney-in-fact who would fulfill our instructions when we are unable to act for ourselves. It is understandable that it maybe ghastly to think, let alone make plans on how our bodies and properties are to be disposed after we have died, yet that might be the most useful and practical gift we can give to those we left behind.

Through our advanced and careful estate planning, we relieve our families from the burden of thinking about our funeral services while at the same time sparing them from intra-family bad blood brought about by unfounded suspicions and misplaced envy.

Once we have determined our preferences and wishes as embodied in a written document such as a will, it is also important to update our beneficiaries in our insurance policies, employer records, and other important documents. In that way, these institutions would know which of our authorized representatives they are legally bound to deal with.

There are a host other important things that your next of kin, administrator, or executor have to do such as hiring an estate attorney, taking care of your assets, paying taxes and debts, and carrying the instructions you left behind. In Rico’s case, since his sister had no other relatives in the US, he may have a good chance of being granted a tourist visa in order to take care of her affairs. He could even try to apply for an expedited appointment if he wants to. Of course, getting approved is another matter.

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