HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Family Money

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Wine Column

Ask your local US Consul

Family Money: In case you’re not immortal

By Leslie Wright,
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.

I know I’ve written before about life and death and planning for the latter, but at least once a week someone comes to see me who has not done so, and has little idea how to do so – especially with regard to Thai assets and Thai laws and Thai wills.

The problems are often solved not by the one who dies who was too busy enjoying life to bother to make proper provision for his passing, but by those left behind holding the bag containing all the problems. And having to solve them at what inevitably is a very traumatic time is adding an unnecessary burden to your loved ones at a time they least need it.

Perhaps your local life-partner speaks good English and can make some sense of the various papers that come to light at this time. More often your partner will speak halting English and understand very little written English legalese. They may be lucky enough to have access to supportive friends, a qualified family lawyer, or an experienced financial adviser with a working knowledge of probate matters and finalising a person’s estate.

Also, there will be many among you who, having spent the latter decade or so overseas, are now on second families and, having set up with new Thai partners, have given little if any thought to the consequences that can befall a mixed-nationality household in the event of the early mortality of the main breadwinner, who will usually be the expat.

Foreigners spend much of their working lives creating wealth and hiding it from the taxman, so it is far preferable to spend a little time and money now to protect local partners and children, than to let government departments or distant relatives employing expensive law firms fight over the spoils by challenging agreements not enshrined in law.

Even more worrying and vastly more expensive, it could mean your estate could be tied up for years in legal battles – especially if your partnership exists as cohabitees or a marriage that does not legally exist as it received, perhaps, only a Buddhist or Christian blessing, without being registered at the Amphur. Such arrangements could easily be contested by overseas offspring from a former legalised marriage; despite the legitimate considerations of the Thai partner who might not understand complex legal jargon and whose knowledge of investments and financial affairs may be quite limited.

Putting these scenarios into context, expats everywhere should set themselves an agenda to tackle these important tasks sooner rather than later – while they are still able to do so, and protect their loved ones from trauma as far as is possible when they do eventually go.

Categorise & centralise your affairs: First, create a personal record card system of all your holdings: bank accounts, life insurance policies, mortgages, shares, bonds, pensions and other investments.

Each card should have the institution’s full address, telephone, FAX and e-mail contacts together with the name of a person to contact, and policy/account numbers and approximate encashment values.

These should be kept in a centralised file that can easily be found in an emergency. Short instructions – with Thai translations – on how to handle each file should be appended.

Deposit a “letter of wishes”: Expats can assist their foreign partners by leaving a letter with an embassy, trusted friend, lawyer or adviser. This would outline a series of steps you would wish to be followed should you die or become mortally incapacitated. It would also instruct your partner where to find financial files, where the wills are held, whom to contact for help and what to do next.

Power of attorney: As a double safeguard, expats should consider drafting a generalised and legally binding power of attorney in favour of your Thai partner, or, if you feel your Thai partner is fiscally unsophisticated, you can give a similar document to a trusted bi-lingual friend (who may be the Personal Representative whom you have to name in a Thai Will) clearly expressing your wishes as to what to do in the event of your unexpected demise. This person should be utterly trustworthy, and familiar with your assets and financial affairs. It should preferably be in both English and Thai and will enable them to deal with all eventualities.

Offshore bank account: Without doubt, all expats should have an Offshore Bank Account accompanied by an ATM card. In the event of death, all institutional monies can be paid into this account, to which the partner can have immediate and automatic access via the ATM-debit card network.

Have policies “written in trust”: Consider notifying investment houses that you want an in-house “trust” document drawn up nominating your life-partner and/or children. Alternatively, you can add them as co-beneficiaries. Signing an instruction as to where the monies should be paid reduces problems considerably.

Get professional help: Appoint a long established and trustworthy lawyer or financial adviser to assist your Thai partner in resolving all the issues involved. Agree in advance by way of a contract what you wish them to do and what the charges will be on an hourly basis. A total capped figure should also be agreed.

Last wills and testaments: These should be legally drafted in Thai and English, sealed, and held in a bank’s safety deposit box. Certified copies can be placed with lawyers both ‘back home’ and in Thailand.

But bear in mind that only a Will written in Thai is admissible in a Thai court: the one in English is for your convenience and information only. (More about this topic next week).

Carry an emergency S.O.S. card: It’s a very simple idea but makes sound practice. With an S.O.S. card written in both languages, authorities can easily notify friends, family, partners or lawyers should you get hit by a truck, baht bus, a piece of falling masonry, or Jumbo crossing the road to get home. In which event, all of the precautions taken above will kick in to protect the people you care about most – your loved ones.

You may be the luckiest guy in the world, but that doesn’t prevent you sitting next to the unluckiest guy in the world the next time you ride a baht bus or go flying.

(Next week: How Thai law affects your estate)

Personal Directions: Honesty

By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates

I have found yet again another gem from the highly appealing writings of John and Melody Anderson and this week the subject is “Honesty” – I hope you enjoy it.

“It is commonly but mistakenly imagined that we can select and control the degree to which we are honest and dishonest in various areas of our lives. The absolute nature of these things, however, ensures that if we choose to deny honesty in just one area of life, by doing so, we cannot help but adversely affect others.

It is commonly acknowledged that honesty is the best policy but just what is meant by honesty and why is it the best policy? And what is meant by best? The implications of being honest would seem to be obvious, but if we look more deeply, there are advantages to adopting honesty as a way of living that do not at first present themselves clearly. There are hidden benefits in being honest that are beyond the traditional perceptions about what being honest affords us.

Honesty is least of all about what we say and most of all about how we are. It is most important to understand that honesty cannot even be restricted to the definition of our actions, for there is a whole network of behavior that is affected by our degree of honesty and the degree to which we allow honesty to pervade our lives. The absolute nature of honesty sees to it that we cannot apply it selectively. It is quite impossible to be truly honest with one person while all the while lying to ourselves about someone else. It is not realistic to assume that we can maintain a dishonest relationship with one friend and maintain an honest relationship with another. Friendship could not exist if we were able to perform such a feat. It is true then, that honesty applies not only to the words we say and the things we do, but also in the feelings we feel and how we allow those feelings to impact on our lives and on our perception of our lives.

When honesty is applied to our feelings we are able to recognize the presence of choice, change and flexibility. The less flexible a feeling is, the less likely it is to be a feeling and the more likely it is to be an opinion, supported by intellect. The less honest we are about what we feel, what we think and how these things are allowed to determine what happens to us, the more likely we are to become restricted by this absence of honesty. For in order to maintain aspects of identity, it is usual to have to pervert the truth in some way.

The most common and successful way to do this is to feel one way and think we feel another. Our intellect can provide all the justification required to make us think that what we are experiencing are genuine feelings. For example, if we feel a compulsion to make a purchase which does not reflect a genuine desire, or perhaps reflects an identity requirement, we will have to undergo some sort of process in order to go through with the purchase. Perhaps part of that process involves talking ourselves into the notion that we want or need the object of the purchase. We must engage in dishonesty in order to see to it that the impure purchase is made. Sometimes this can be quite a struggle, particularly if it is necessary to hide the truth about the purchase from ourselves.

Where this sort of process falls down is in the absolute nature of honesty and of lack of honesty. When we seek to deceive ourselves over one issue, then we cannot avoid deceiving ourselves over others. If we furiously defend an illusion in one area of our lives, then we will be compelled to do so in other areas also. If the only way we can have things is to do so through dishonest means, then we become a slave to the dishonesty and are bound in other areas of life to give the same credence to dishonesty and its power to influence what we have. We become caught in a web of deceit that entangles us in its sticky grip. It ensures that we are only capable of achieving things in a very limited fashion, as long as it does not interfere with our carefully constructed illusions - illusions that are more correctly referred to as expressions of dishonesty.

Illusions, however, can only continue to exist as long as they are not openly acknowledged or expressed as such. Their true nature must remain hidden for their power to be strong. The more dishonest we become about the little things in our lives, the more the dishonesty pervades the significant issues. Dishonesty has a way of completely overwhelming the life of an individual to a point where it becomes almost impossible to be honest, under any circumstances. This alone is responsible for the fact that as soon as we begin applying honesty to long held illusions, it can seem as though all hell breaks loose in all sorts of areas in our lives.

The mere presence of genuine honesty in one area almost forces honesty in others. This is very important in gauging our degree of honesty should we be interested in identifying any areas of difficulty. Anomalies must be carefully examined, for honesty is indeed absolute. Should we become dependent on lying to help us get through life, then we must be prepared for the consequences. Habitual dishonesty or lying can ensure that when it comes to something important, something that we want very much, our pattern of lying has become so strong that we doubt our ability to carry out our objectives. The lying not only convinces others but impacts upon our own perceptions of our abilities and ourselves.”

Until next time…have a great week!

Should you need to contact me write to Christina.dodd

The Doctor's Consultation: The Human Genome Project and our genes

by Dr. Iain Corness

A couple of years ago, I mentioned the Human Genome Project. It is an international collaboration which kicked off in 1990 to attempt to write down the various genes that are responsible in making us up to way we are. A gene, by the way, is a portion of DNA responsible for encoding messenger RNA for translation into protein. The popular Matrix movies show what is supposed to happen when you combine DNA with machines.

The Human Genome study is no small project either as we have approximately 1,000 billion cells of which each has 46 chromosomes carrying duplicate copies of around 30,000 genes. The exciting thing about the Human Genome Project is that after 10 years we now have a draft copy of “us” with the base pairs that make up the genome being described.

What the researchers are now trying to do is assign the function to each gene. Is this one the gene that gives Asians brown eyes, or is it the gene that determines whether you are going to get cancer?

At the mention of the Big C (and I don’t mean the supermarket chain) I can hear all your ears pricking up. Can we now predict a cancer occurring in ourselves some time in the future? Well, we can - sort of! Come on, you didn’t expect “absolutes” in experimental medicine, did you?

We have discovered the “cancer gene” for breast cancer and some types of colorectal cancers and another condition called familial adenomatous polyposis, which if left untreated, results in 100% of the cases developing colon cancer. So what are we doing about it?

What you have to understand is that this is not the be all and end all of the cancer story. The relative contributions to cancer are as follows:

Dietary 35%
Smoking 30%
Hereditary factors 5-10%
Occupational exposure 5%
Infectious agents 5%
Radiation and environmental pollution 4%
(and yes, I do realise that doesn’t add up to 100% - there’s others, but small numbers).

Just because someone in your family got breast cancer, that does not mean that you will. Their cancer might have had nothing to do with genetic mutations of healthy genes. There is a far greater chance that it developed from “other” causes such as smoking, for example.

However, returning to the hereditary concept, if after taking a detailed family history it looks as if there “might” be a genetic element, then it is a case of very extensive testing - that takes much time (and money) to see if the person has the mutated gene.

The next problem for the predictive testing concept is - if you find you have got the mutated gene - what do you do about it? And even more importantly, can we handle the knowledge?

For some women, this might mean deciding to have a mastectomy now, instead of later. A tough call, especially when having the mutated gene does not mean you have 100% chance of getting the cancer, having the mutation just means you have a 40-80% chance of developing breast cancer by the time you are 70 years old. There is also much evidence that those who are told their “mutated future” are more likely to suicide than those who get a clean bill of genetic health.

All very sobering. We are now at the stage of starting to ‘repair’ genes, but it’s early days yet - but that day is coming.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I’ve eaten hawker food since 1971 and only got sick the very first time. I suspected, however, that it was the Mekong that did me and not the food. I swore off Mekong and haven’t had any trouble with hawker food since. As to Spam, I’ve eaten the canned product on occasion, but most enjoy the company’s sense of humor in not minding our calling junk e-mail by that name. As to the latter, the better e-mail services allow users to set up a White List, and blocks all messages from senders not on it. The best services allow you the option of having them automatically update your list. They do by sending automatic replies to all unknown senders asking if they are humans or spammers. The former are invited to click a reply that updates the White List and allows the message in. As for me, I haven’t set up such an account yet as I don’t know an easy way to transfer my address book, and am daunted by the prospect of updating my e-mail @ with various non-human agencies whose services I use. I’d appreciate suggestions along those lines.
Paw Yai Lee

Dear PYL,
What sort of a column do you I am running here? The food column? Spam tod grathiem prik Thai. Spam? So you think Spam is junk food? I am sure you will get an army barrage from the UK folks who were raised on it during the war. Look what it did for them? On second thoughts, let’s not look, as some of them are looking very frayed around the edges these days. I believe the term “spam” was coined by the Americans, who never had to eat Spam. By the way, at last count, hawker food does not include Spam either. No wonder you got ill. You got what you deserved, washing it down with Mekong. Sang Thip is much better as a sterilizer I am told. I do sympathize with you as far as White Lists and all that sort of thing is concerned. It’s all too hard for Hillary. Just handling emails is a chore, though my technician did tell me that half the reason I have so many problems is because of chocolate on the kkkkkeyboard making the kkkkeys stickkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. Perhaps I should give the kkkeyboard a good sluice with champagne and see if that unstickkkkkkkkkks it? But I couldn’t bring myself to waste it like that. Especially the Veuve Cliquot. Some of the Australian sparklers perhaps.
Dear Hillary,
What with all the ruckus over double pricing, what are your thoughts on it, or doesn’t it affect you?
The Enquirer

Dear Enquirer,
My poor Petal, of course the cost involved in going to tourist attractions does not affect me. Hillary goes with an escort, who would be too gallant to discuss prices or quibble over a mere 100% mark up. There are advantages in being a woman, you know. Anyway, Hillary couldn’t even afford the single pricing, let alone the doubled one!
Dear Hillary,
The other evening my husband of 20 years called me a bitch with no provocation from me at all. I decided to teach him a lesson, and slept in the spare room that night and now I am thinking of leaving him. He just laughs and shrugs it off when I ask him about it. What is your opinion, Hillary?
Extremely Annoyed

Dear Annoyed,
Perhaps if you bark at him again you will get the answer.
Dear Hillary,
You have been asked about tipping before, but I cannot find the edition it was in. I realise that the waiters look to the tip as part of their wages, but I just need to know how much should I tip them? Is it compulsory? I do not want to look mean and stingy, but I haven’t got thousands of baht to fritter away each time I go out. I appreciate your advice each week.

Dear Tippy,
Much depends upon whether the establishment includes the tip, called Service Charge, in the bill. Many hotels have the signs + + after the price, and this means plus service charge and plus VAT. Since they have already factored in (usually 10%) for the tip, then there is no point in tipping twice in my book. Some people say that the establishment pockets the service charge and does not give it to the waiters and waitresses, but that is something between the employers and the staff, nothing to do with the diners. If the restaurant does not include the service charge, then around 10% is fair enough, unless you have had lousy service, or no service. In those cases, Hillary does not tip at all. In fact I have been known to wait for 5 baht change just to show them that I only tip for good service. If the service has been exemplary, with lots of fawning and scraping to make me feel wonderful (flattery gets them everywhere) then I will tip more than 10%. Certainly the service staff do need the tips, but my tip to them is that they should work for it.

Camera Class: Weird Edweard Muybridge

by Harry Flashman

Photography can certainly bring out some of the real characters in this world. A couple of weeks back I brought Weegee to your notice, the man I like to call the father of photojournalism. He was the chap ready to photograph the body on the pavement, but I doubt if he would have been involved in holding a blanket to catch the jumper! Edweard Muybridge was another of these ‘characters’ and while decidedly eccentric he did further scientific knowledge and made the first cinema projector, so should be remembered fondly.

Edweard was born plain Edward Muggeridge in the UK in 1830 but emigrated to America in the early 1850’s and changed his name (as did a lot of other people emigrating in those days). Edward’s reasons were not stated.

In the 1860’s he took up photography and gained some fame as a topographical photographer and even published a book, “Scenery of the Yosemite Valley” in 1867, so Ansel Adams was not the only one to see the possibilities in the majestic landscapes.

However, it was the photography of motion that attracted Edweard. In 1872 he finally managed to successfully photograph a horse in motion showing that at certain times all four hooves are off the ground simultaneously. Unfortunately, immediately after that he was tried for murdering his wife’s lover but was acquitted. He was then sued for divorce by the distraught lady and finally widowed. All this kept Edweard away from his photography of motion for four years.

Returning to photography, with the millionaire railroad builder, Leland Stanford as his sponsor, Edweard developed a unique system in 1878 which was in reality 12 cameras mounted side by side and operated by trip wires. By the following year he had expanded this to 24 cameras and could thus take very short time interval photographs of horses, dogs, pigeons and goats in motion. This in turn led to photographing moving humans, despite enormous problems in getting people to walk past his battery of 24 cameras in the nude! However, by 1881 he published these in a book.

His next objective was to show these as motion and he invented the “Zoopraxiscope” which projected sequences of these photographs mounted on a glass disc to give the impression of true motion. This was in fact the world’s first cinema projector and preceded Thomas Edison’s “Kinetoscope” by some twelve years.

In 1882 Edweard went to Europe, hopeful of raising sponsorship to continue his photographic study of movement, but returned to America with empty pockets. He was then lucky enough to get backing from the University of Pennsylvania. They kept him alive while he photographed 2000 models, male and female, clothed and nude, as well as wild animals. When he ran out of models, he even used himself, taking his serial shots of himself walking up and down ramps. 20,000 photographs of almost 800 different subjects were published in a book called “Animal Locomotion” in 1887.

Once again, he was to run out of money for his grandiose schemes and tried selling the “Animal Locomotion” book at $100 a book. Needless to say it was not an overnight best seller.

This led our Edweard to new heights. He built a hall to demonstrate the Zoopraxiscope, called the Zoopraxographical Hall in the 1893 Chicago World’s Colombian Exhibition. This was the world’s first movie theatre and predated the Lumiere brothers “Cinematographe” presentations by three years.

Despite his inventiveness, the world did not beat a path to his studio and Edweard decided he had enough of this photography lark, returning to the UK, where he bequeathed all his photographic equipment to the local library. At the turn of the century he reprinted his original books, earning enough to eke out his last four years of life.

Of course, what Edweard did not realise was that almost 100 years later the scientific community would find that he had left them the most complete records of animal motion ever produced and in fact in 1979 his books were republished. It’s a weird world we live in!

Wine Column: Wonders from Down Under

By Ranjith Chandrasiri

Australian wine makers have done wonders with the Syrah grape, locally known as Shiraz. The grape seems to thrive in the Australian soil and climate, and it produces one of the most robust and flavourful red wines in the world. The signature characteristic of wines made from the Shiraz grape is a kind of black pepper spiciness, which usually is embroidered with layers of black currants, plum, black cherry, cedar, and vanilla-scented oak.

David Fife, the founder of famous Yarra Burn wines in Victoria recently invited Ranjith to taste the wonders of Australian wines from Yarra Valley.

The hallmark wine that I believe really brought Australian wines to the world’s attention probably is Rosemount Shiraz, which is considered by most to be a “reference wine” for Australian Shiraz. It is consistently well balanced and rich with ripe, intense fruit flavours, but its power and grace are equally proportioned. And, best of all, you can still buy it for under Australian $30.

Australia is not a one-grape wonder by any means. It also does well with most of the other familiar grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Australian wine makers are fond of blending Shiraz and other well-known grapes varieties in just about every possible combination to achieve a wide range of styles. For example, you can find blends of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and so on. An Australian peculiarity is to blend two grapes and name the wine after both, the dominant variety first, for example: Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz.

As for white wines, they produce big, buttery Chardonnays that have lots of oak. They like to blend it with Semillion to make a leaner, less rich wine. They have also invented several completely original formulas; Riesling blended with Traminer grapes to give the wine a nice spicy snap. For example, Rosemount makes a Traminer-Riesling blend that is one of the best cocktail wines available, and I highly recommend it.

There are lots of other Australian producers who make great wines that are widely available in Thailand. Look for wines from Lindemans, Hardys, Leeuwin Estate, Wolf Blass, Petaluma, Katnook Estate, Tyrrell’s, Xanadu and Penfolds, to name just a few.

Penfolds has a staggering array of wines available that range from cheap, basic cask or bag-in-box wines to the legendary “Grange,” which has an international following among wine collectors and was named Wine of the Year by the influential Wine Spectator magazine. It is one of the greatest wines in the world that rivals the great wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy in price and mystique.

For most wine drinkers outside Australia, the whole discussion of Australian wine regions is academic. Even Grange, for example carries the broad South Australian appellation, which covers wines produced anywhere in the state of South Australia. Commercial wines such as Jacob’s Creek have even more all-encompassing appellation in the shape of “South-Eastern Australia”, which could be used for grapes grown in South Australia, Victoria or New South Wales - three states that, between them, produce over 90% of the annual harvest.

Almost all Australian wineries use the “Bin” labelling system on at least a portion of their wines; for example, Bin 2, Bin 389, Bin 707. I think this is a quaint throwback to older times when the term “bin” referred to what is called a “lot.” Therefore, Bin 2 would refer to a specific blend or lot of Shiraz and Mourvedre, and Bin 389 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

You might also run into another designation called Show Reserve. In Australia the term usually does mean better quality wine. In wine shows it is often stipulated that any entrant must come from a batch of so many thousands of bottles, and this is kept in reserve by the various wineries. They are usually released following the wine’s show career and winning medals. So some of the Show Reserves can be very handsome, not to mention expensive.

Generally, however, the Australian labels are easy to understand and are informative. Wines are labelled with the name of the grape variety stating the grape or combination of grapes used which must constitute at least 85% of the wine. It is the taste that you drink, not the place mate.

Australian wines epitomize user-friendliness and are pleasant to drink from an early age. So, if you get bored with what you are currently drinking, take a look at what is coming out from down under. You are sure to find something interesting.

Ranjith Chandrasiri is the resident manager of Royal Cliff Grand and president of the Royal Cliff Wine Club, Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya, Thailand. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Website: http://www.royal

Ask your local US Consul

Dear Consul,

Dear Consul,
I’m going back to California next month, and I want to take my niece, Noi, with me. She’s a smart girl who’s been helping out with her mother’s business, but she’s not getting anywhere by selling ice cream. My wife and I are having a baby in a few months, so we’d love to have the extra help around the house. I hear it’s easier to get a student visa than a tourist visa, so should I enroll my niece in a community college?

Sugar Uncle
Dear Mr. Uncle,
Your desire to help out your extended family is to be commended - and will almost certainly be encouraged beyond your wildest expectations - but you’ve asked a complex question here. Will Noi study full-time and learn skills she’ll use when she returns to Thailand after graduation, or is she taking one hour per week of underwater basket-weaving (especially when she already has a graduate degree in underwater basket-weaving from Thammasat)? WILL she be returning to Thailand after graduation? Does her mother’s business have a franchise operated by relatives in West Covina?

Intentions are tricky things, of course. Noi might genuinely want both to help out around the house AND fulfill her lifelong ambition of receiving a two-year degree from Alhambra Junior Academy. That’s what makes student visa interviews a little involved and the application more complex to assess, but it doesn’t make it “easier” to receive a student visa.

You’ve contrasted “student” with “tourist” visas in your question. Student visas are a type of tourist visa, even if the student-tourist is expected to stay somewhat longer than the average holidaymaker. This means that students have to meet the same standards that tourists do in the application process – they have to demonstrate sufficient connections to Thailand, etc. (see all my previous columns in this paper). Since most college applicants are ... well, college-aged ... and young people often have a harder time demonstrating ties to their community, it can actually be quite difficult to qualify for a student visa.

According to immigration law, being a student means that the person’s primary motivation in coming to the US is to study. That doesn’t mean that the person can’t study where he or she has friends or family - we’re mostly reasonable people here, and recognize that a school that comes with free housing and a support network is often more attractive than one that doesn’t, just as it would be for any U.S. student. The key is that the education must not be an afterthought, an excuse to stay in the country.

Not to go all Ann Landers on you, but it sounds as though there are questions in this case that need to be answered before the visa question even arises. What is Noi getting out of this deal, other than childcare experience and access to a decent mocha chino? Why not go for a four-year degree? Sure, it’s a bigger commitment, but that’s exactly the point: it’s much easier to demonstrate that a larger investment of time, energy, and money is the real deal, not low-cost childcare, and it’s probably better for Noi to boot.

If school isn’t the main point, Noi might more easily and honestly go as a tourist, if the visit is going to be relatively short. No one will insist on a ten-foot-radius zone of non-interference around the new cousin ... although no one would expect to see an extended arrangement or a salary, either. It’s a fine line, but, like a good mocha chino, I think we recognize it when we see it.

You sound like you’re prepared to foot the bill, Mr. Uncle, but let me take this opportunity to caution other would-be applicants: The reason we ask all those dreadfully intrusive questions about finances is because of the unfortunate scenario in which the family doesn’t have the cash on hand to fund the studies, but figures that their kid will work it off with double shifts at Pizza Hut, or at that other restaurant with no windows that seems to only hire women. Not only is this a really counterproductive thing to do to a budding scholar, but there are laws against it; often more than one. And if it comes to light, as these things usually do, the student can be deported, even if she/he only had two credits of underwater basket-weaving left to complete, and can be barred from re-entering the country, even if he/she had a lucrative (and legal) post-graduation job lined up in management in Haagen-Dazs. Students on visas are allowed to work at some on-campus jobs, but please make sure you ask your school’s International Office.

Think of it as an ice-cream loan,

The Consul
Have a question about visas, passports, travel to the United States, services for American citizens, or related issues? Ask the Consul. Send your e-mail to acschn @state. gov with “ask the consul” in the subject line. If your question isn’t selected, you can get an answer by calling the Consulate at 053-252-629, from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.