The latest AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES NEWSLETTER (June 2008)

Just keeping all my fellow American expats informed of what our embassy wants to know…

U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy Seoul
Consular Section, American Citizen Services (ACS) Newsletter
June 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. Renewing U.S. Passports Ahead of Summer Travel
2. Ensure That Your Absentee Vote Is Counted
3. Maryland Special Election, 4th Congressional District, June 17
4. Minnesota Enacts Bill Regarding Overseas Voters
5. Visa Rules for Foreign Instructors
6. Recent Travel Warnings and Announcements
7. Upcoming Holidays: June 6; Early Closing on June 4
8. Embassy Contact Information

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1. Renewing U.S. Passports Ahead of Summer Travel
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U.S. citizens who will be traveling this summer are strongly encouraged to check their passports (and those of their family members) now to confirm that they have not expired or will not expire soon.  Don’t let a long-awaited vacation or a move to another country become a nightmare because of an expired passport.  Note that some countries require foreigners to have a passport with a validity of at least six months in order to be granted entry to their country; you should check with the Embassy of the country you are traveling to.  If your passport has expired or is nearing its expiration date, you should begin the process of applying for a new one immediately in order to beat the summer rush.  A passport applied for at the Embassy can take 2-3 weeks to process.  Renewing a passport by mail is possible in some cases.  For information on renewal procedures, application forms, fees, etc., please see http://seoul.usembassy.gov/us_passports.html.

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2. 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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3. 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 have received the FPCA for voter registration and absentee ballot request by May 27, 2008, and must receive a request for an absentee ballot 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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4. Minnesota Enacts Bill Regarding Overseas Voters
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The State of Minnesota has enacted a new law that will:
–allow uniformed services and overseas voters to receive their blank absentee ballots by fax or email;
–allow voters to send their FPCA for ballot request only by fax or email;
–allow voters to use a State Write-In Absentee Ballot for state and local elections; and
–remove the requirement that Federal Post Card Applications or ballot envelopes be notarized or witnessed.

Overseas voters who receive their absentee ballot by fax or email must return the voted ballot to the county auditor in a sealed envelope.  The State Write-In Absentee Ballot is for citizens who will be outside the U.S. during the 180-day period preceding the general election (and requested an official absentee ballot) and may be used as a ballot for all elections within that timeframe.  Minnesota previously required that applications or ballots be notarized or witnessed by an individual authorized to administer oaths when a citizen did not provide a military identification card number or a passport number.  Instead, the citizen now attests to the truthfulness of the contents under penalty of perjury.

Additional information regarding the provisions of this law is available online by visiting the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Web site at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/home/index.asp?page=10&recordid=250.

Visit the FVAP website at www.fvap.gov for more information.

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5. 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 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 prohibited from taking fingerprints for these purposes.

If 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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6. 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, regions, or topics:

Hurricane Season   05/30/2008
Burma (Myanmar) 05/05/2008
Chad    04/30/2008
China   05/16/2008
Haiti   04/30/2008
Lebanon    05/30/2008
Nepal   05/07/2008
Somalia    05/20/2008
South Africa    05/21/2008
Zimbabwe        05/14/2008

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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7. Upcoming Holiday: June 6; Early Closing on June 4
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American Citizen Services will exceptionally close at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 4.  For best service, please arrive well before 11:00 a.m., especially if you are registering the birth of your child.

The U.S. Embassy will be closed on the following date:

June 6 (Friday)         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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8. 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

1 Comment

Filed under Announcements, Communications, Expat, Korea life, News, USA

One response to “The latest AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES NEWSLETTER (June 2008)

  1. Pingback: passports renewal forms

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