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Personal Inheritance and OFAC Compliance

For immigrants who come from nations that have sanctions placed on it by the U.S. government, it can be difficult and often times scary for the immigrant to stay in compliance with the sanctions that have been placed on their home country.

This is especially true for the foreign nationals coming from the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is because Iran has had various sanctions placed against the government, its financial institutions (banks), and its currency. It can be especially scary for asylees who have been granted asylum in the United States who wish to receive financial support from family member who live in Iran but who also do not wish to jeopardize their asylee status.

For an Iranian national who has been granted a visa to enter the United States, staying in compliance with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) can be both a difficult and frustrating experience. One question that Iranian nationals often have is whether or not they are allowed to bring in money they received as a family inheritance from Iran.

In short, the answer is yes. A family inheritance is generally categorized as a “Personal Remittance”. Therefore, the Iranian national may only need to apply for a “general license” from OFAC. There are a few exceptions to this which would require a special license, however, generally speaking, when it is an “normal” Iranian national who inherits funds from a “normal” Iranian family, then it is simple, and a general license is all that should be needed.

The term “normal” is meant to represent Iranians who do not have any specific ties to the Iranian government or that the inheritance is not in a bank account that is deposited in a bank that is on OFAC's Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. In these cases, a special license may be required from OFAC.

If the Iranian national has their inheritance in an Iranian bank or any institution that is part of the specially designated nationals list, then they must be aware that they cannot simply transfer their funds from that location directly to an American bank. The funds must first be transferred from the Iranian bank to a bank in a different country that is not under OFAC sanctions to act as a third party before the funds can be transferred to an American bank.

Sometimes a person inherits not only money but also property. When it comes to property inheritance in Iran, OFAC does not allow an Iranian national to sell it. The Iranian national must first apply for a specific license before they can sell any property located in Iran. Again, it is very important that the Iranian national living in the United States does not have any transactions with parties that are located on OFAC's SDN, and especially any parties that have any affiliation with the government of Iran.

In order to be sure that you do not violate Iran sanctions imposed by the U.S. government, it is advisable to seek legal guidance from an experienced and knowledgeable OFAC attorney to ensure that the manner in which you plan to transfer your inheritance to the United States is completely legal

This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advise. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.

Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.

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