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By Nitish S. Rele


Q: I am a naturalized American citizen. I want to sponsor my parents. Is it necessary for them to come as a visitor or can I sponsor them when they are in India? What is more advantageous?

A: It depends on the readiness of your parents to leave India. It may be less expensive to sponsor them from India. If they are in a city where there is no immigration office, it might be better for them to come here first as visitors; otherwise, they may be sponsored from India.

Q: I intend to leave the U.S. late in December and want to return before the end of January. As I am present for both the calendar months, I feel that my Supplemental Security Income (SSI), medical benefits will not be discontinued. Do I understand the rules correctly?

A: No, if you are absent from this country for 30 days continuously, your SSI will be discontinued irrespective of your presence for both the calendar months till you come back and stay in this country for 30 days. The day of departure and the day of arrival are excluded from the calculation of absence.

Q: I stay with my son and other members of his family. We used to live in an apartment. I paid a pro rate share of the household expenditure. My son has now moved to a house and he has a large mortgage to pay. Will I have to increase my contribution to the household expenses, so that it still qualifies as a pro rata share? How will my share be counted?

A: If your son is prepared to rent a small part of the house to you, and if you prepare your own food, you will continue to get full SSI benefits. You must pay rent and buy your food. The rent should be a fair market rate. Make sure to consult the agency to determine what is an appropriate rate. If you play fair with the agency, they are likely to help you.

Q: I have already completed the 40 quarters (10 years work) required for getting Social Security, and I am 61 years of age. Is it advisable for me to draw Social Security early, and still continue my job?

Q: You can draw Social Security at reduced rates once you are 62 years old. If you are confident that you will be able to continue in your job for many more years, you might want to do this. Otherwise, it is advisable for you to wait till you are 66 years of age (and get the full amount), because you will get the reduced rate for the rest of your life. Please consult Social Security authorities.

Q: My parents are here on a visitor’s visa; their visas are to expire after two months. As my wife is not keeping well, I want the presence of my parents at least for a year to come. Shall I get extension of my parent’s visa?

A: Yes. First extensions for parents are not generally refused. Please apply in time. If you are a citizen, you may also sponsor them for adjustment of status from visitors to permanent residents.

These questions and answers are excerpted with permission from “Mapping the Maze: A Guide to Welfare for Elderly Immigrants” by Harikrishna Majmumdar of California who has advised several hundred welfare applicants. The author has attempted to help immigrants to navigate the maze of rules and regulations encountered when approaching the U.S. welfare system. A copy of this 2003 published book is available for $10 from H.J. Majmumdar, 450 Melville Ave., Palo Alto, Calif. 94301 or send an e-mail to if you have a question.

FODOR’S INDIA, $23.95, 620 pages
By Nitish S. Rele

Looking to visit India this summer? Or maybe planning a vacation to the country of your birth in December? Well, don’t forget the updated and fifth edition of “India Fodor’s,” which was recently released.

For 2005, the over 600-page travel guide is packed with the usual information on not just where to stay or when to go, but also great itineraries, pleasures and pastimes, calendar of events and smart travel tips.

For convenience, the book is divided into 12 regions: The Himalayas, Delhi, North Central India, Rajasthan, Bombay and Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad, Orissa and Calcutta.

Here are a few samples of some of the regions:

The Himalayas: Ride an elephant through Corbett National Park or escape from civilization in a yuk at Ladakh Sarai.

Bombay and Maharashtra: Marvel at ancient cave paintings at Ajanta and Ellora or soak up the hullabaloo of Marine Drive’s at Chowpatty Beach.

Goa: Gambol among the church ruins in gorgeous Old Goa or find a private nook at Dudhsagar Falls.

And there is more. Much more to succumb to your animal urges, worship religious sites, spice up your trip, dazzle your eyes or just lose yourself into the wonder that is India.

“Fodor’s India” ( is one travel companion you would want to tag along with you to India, especially if you are heading out on vacation after visiting your hometown. Enjoy the journey and the book.

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