AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES NEWSLETTER – MAY 2008

Just helping pass the word…

U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy Seoul
Consular Section, American Citizen Services (ACS) Newsletter
May 2008

The U.S. Embassy is transmitting the following monthly newsletter via its warden system as a public service to U.S. citizens in the Republic of Korea.  Please feel free to disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your organizations or to other Americans you know.

In this issue:

1. IRS Says Economic Stimulus Payments on the Way
2. Next Consular Services Visit to Busan, May 20-21
3. Avian Flu Precautions
4. Ensure That Your Absentee Vote Is Counted
5. Maryland Special Election, 4th Congressional District, June 17
6. Visa Rules for Foreign Instructors
7. Recent Travel Warnings and Announcements
8. Upcoming Holidays: May 5, 12, 26
9. Embassy Contact Information

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1. IRS Says Economic Stimulus Payments on the Way
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The Internal Revenue Service has begun to transfer economic stimulus payments to millions of Americans, some of whom will see payments in their bank accounts as early as this week.  The IRS will issue payments of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) plus $300 for eligible children younger than 17, throughout the spring and summer.  The first wave of payments will go to people who opted for direct deposit on their 2007 income tax returns.  Whether a taxpayer opted for direct deposit determines how soon the payment will arrive. The first cycle of paper checks will be mailed starting May 9.
Even people who normally do not have a filing requirement may be eligible for the stimulus payment.  People who have no filing requirement must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income.  Qualifying income includes any combination of earned income, nontaxable combat pay they elect to include in earned income, and certain payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs, and Railroad Retirement.

People with at least $3,000 in qualifying income may qualify for an economic stimulus payment of $300 ($600 for married couples) plus the $300 per qualifying child payment. However, they must file a 2007 income tax return by Oct. 15 , 2008, to receive a stimulus payment. They can use the simple Form 1040A and provide basic information. Form 1040A is available on IRS.gov, the official IRS Web site.

The payment schedule announced earlier this year is for people who filed early enough to have their tax returns processed by April 15. People who did not submit a return in time for it to be processed by April 15 may see their stimulus payments later than the scheduled dates.
For the payments schedule, please see: http://www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=180250,00.html.  For frequently asked questions about the payments, please see: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=181991,00.html.

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2. Next Consular Services Visit to Busan, May 20-21
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Officials from the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit will offer consular services in Busan on May 20-21.  These services will be at our new location, the offices of the recently-opened American Presence Post in Busan.  A Consular officer will be available on Tuesday, May 20, from 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. and on Wednesday, May 21, from 9:00 a.m.–noon at the American Presence Post, Lotte Gold Rose Building (also known as the Job Center Building), #150-3, Yangjung-dong, Busanjin-gu, Room No. 612.

American citizens will be able to apply for U.S. passports, additional visa pages in their current passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and Social Security cards.  Consular officers will also offer notarial services and provide information regarding voting, federal benefits, and registration with the Embassy.

Any questions about requirements, particularly for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, should be directed by email to seoul_acs@state.gov.  Please allow at least three days for a response.

If you plan to visit the ACS Unit in Busan, we strongly urge you to consult the website at http://www.asktheconsul.org for more information on our consular services and to ensure that you bring the proper forms (filled out in advance) and fees with you.  In addition to bringing original supporting documents (i.e., birth certificate, passport, Certificate of Naturalization), please bring photocopies of all documents you plan to submit.  There will not be a photocopier available on-site.

If you notify us prior to 9:00 a.m. on Monday, May 19, we can add pages to your passport in Busan while you wait.  Please complete form DS-4085, which can be downloaded at: http://foia.state.gov/FORMS/Passport/DS4085.pdf.  Write “Busan – Extra Pages” at the top of the completed form, include a copy of your passport’s personal data page (the page with your photo), and fax it to our office at (02) 397-4101.  Alternatively, you can email us your request.  Be sure to attach clearly scanned copies of both your DS-4085 form and your passport’s data page.  Email it to Seoul_ACS@state.gov and put “RESEND: BUSAN EXTRA PAGES” in the subject line.  Please note that additional pages cannot be added to one-year emergency passports or to damaged passports.  There is no charge for this service.  Additional information about adding pages is available on our website: http://korea.usembassy.gov/add_pages.html.

The Busan APP’s website is: http://busan.usconsulate.gov.

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3. Avian Flu Precautions
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There have been several instances of the H5N1 strain of avian flu in poultry on farms throughout South Korea since April 3.  The Embassy urges Americans in South Korea to follow reports in the media and to take precautions as suggested by the State Department at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/health/health_3096.html

For additional up-to-date information on avian flu and a list of other sources of information, please see the Embassy website at http://seoul.usembassy.gov/avian_flu2.html.  Also please visit the U.S. Government’s official clearinghouse on pandemics at www.pandemicflu.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/.

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4. Ensure That Your Absentee Vote is Counted
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Here are ten ways to help ensure that your absentee vote is counted:

(1) Start by contacting your Embassy or military unit Voting Assistance Officer for help in absentee registration and voting.  The Embassy’s Voting Assistance officer is available at VoteSeoul@state.gov.
(2) Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website at www.fvap.gov for information on the absentee registration and voting process.
(3) Ensure that you have applied for your absentee ballot using the hard copy or on-line versions of the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) form.
(4) Make sure your local election official has your current mailing address.
(5) Sign and date all election materials.
(6) Fulfill your state’s witness/notary requirements (if required).
(7) Ensure that your ballot or FPCA is postmarked.
(8) Register to vote and request your ballot in a timely manner – not later than early September 2008.
(9) VOTE – mail your ballot not later than October 15, 2008.
(10) Use the Federal Write In Absentee Ballot if you are overseas and your State absentee ballot does not arrive in time to be mailed back by your state’s deadline.

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5. Maryland Special Election, 4th Congressional District, June 17
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On Tuesday, June 17, 2008, there will be a special general election in 4th Congressional District of Maryland to fill the seat of Representative Albert Wynn.  To determine if your legal residence is in the 4th Congressional District, go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website, www.fvap.gov/comm/communicating.html and click on “Communicating with Your Elected Officials,” then “Who is my Representative?.”

REGISTERING TO VOTE AND REQUESTING A BALLOT:

All members of the U.S. Uniformed Services, their family members, and U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S. who are Maryland residents from the 4th District should request registration and an absentee ballot for this special general election by completing and submitting a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), SF-76, as soon as possible, if you have not done so already in calendar year 2008.  The online version of the FPCA is available from the FVAP website at http://www.fvap.gov/pubs/onlinefpca.html.  Specific instructions for Maryland are available at: http://www.fvap.gov/pubs/vag/pdfvag/md.pdf.  The County Board of Elections must receive the FPCA for voter registration and absentee ballot request not later than Tuesday, May 27, 2008, and for absentee ballot request only no later than Tuesday, June 10, 2008.

Voters who are Maryland residents from the 4th District and requested a ballot for the Presidential and State Primary on February 12, 2008, will automatically receive this ballot and need not take any further action.

Maryland allows members of the U.S. Uniformed Services and their family members to send the FPCA for ballot request by fax.  After faxing, submit the original FPCA by mail.  Use the following toll-free fax numbers for the U.S. and Canada: 1-800-368-8683, (703) 693-5527 or DSN 223-5527 (military).  A list of additional toll-free fax numbers from overseas countries are available at: http://www.fvap.gov/services/tollfree.html#fax.
Maryland does not allow faxing of the FPCA for registration.  If requesting to receive the blank ballot by fax, be sure to provide your fax number with all applicable prefixes and country codes.

Specific information on your precinct, candidates, elections, and voting is available at the Maryland State Board of Elections website,  http://www.elections.state.md.us/.

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6. Visa Rules for Foreign Instructors
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The Korean Ministry of Justice announced that as of December 15, 2007, foreigners will have to submit medical and criminal background checks when applying for a visa to become a foreign language teacher in South Korea.  The U.S. Embassy cannot provide a background check or fingerprinting service, and we cannot notarize, certify, or verify the authenticity of background checks or diplomas.

As we understand the new requirements, E-2 visa applicants who are U.S. citizens can obtain the necessary criminal background check either by submitting their fingerprints to the FBI or by applying for a local police check where they last resided in the U.S.  Procedures for obtaining criminal background checks in the U.S. are explained on our website at http://www.asktheconsul.org/E2ec07.htm.  Local police stations in the Republic of Korea are able to take fingerprints that can be sent to the FBI for a background check.  U.S. Embassies are, unfortunately, prohibited from taking fingerprints for these purposes.

As we receive updated information on the Korean visa requirements, we will post it on our website.  The U.S. Embassy website will also continue to be the best source of information about the services that we are able to provide under U.S. law and regulation, but we cannot state with full authority what the Korean regulations are.  If you have further questions, we suggest that you contact the office responsible for the new requirements, the Korea Immigration Service, Border Control Division, at 500-9116, 500-9117, or 500-9118, or consult their website at http://seoul.immigration.go.kr/HP/IMM80/index.do or the Ministry of Justice website (in Korean only) at
http://moj.korea.kr/moj/jsp/moj1_branch.jsp?_action=news_view&_property=p_sec_1&_id=155250149.

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7. Recent Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts
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The U.S. Department of State has recently issued travel warnings or travel alerts for the following countries and regions:

Burundi         04/22/2008
China           04/25/2008
Comoros         04/07/2008
Haiti           04/11/2008
Lebanon         04/21/2008
Mexico          04/14/2008
Syria           04/15/2008
Yemen           04/07/2008
Zimbabwe        04/11/2008

For additional information about these travel warnings and alerts, click on this link:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html

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8. Upcoming Holidays: May 5, 12, 26
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The U.S. Embassy will be closed on the following dates:

May 5 (Monday)          Orininal
May 12 (Monday)         Sukka Tansin Il
May 26 (Monday)         Memorial Day

Please be advised that the days just before and after a holiday are usually exceptionally busy in the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy.  Do not be surprised at a significantly longer wait for consular services on those days.  If you visit us outside those times, you should have a shorter wait.

A complete list of all of our holiday closings for 2008 is available on-line at http://seoul.usembassy.gov/holidays.html.

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9. Embassy Contact Information
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American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
32, Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-710, Korea

– or –

American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy, Seoul
Unit #15550
APO AP 96205-5550

Tel: 02-397-4114
Fax: 02-397-4101
DSN: 721-4114
English:  http://www.asktheconsul.org/
Korean:  http://www.usavisas.org/
E-mail
:  seoul_acs@state.gov

End of newsletter text.

 

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