Big changes at Embassy Seoul

Seoul logoOn Monday, April 14, the American Citizen Services (ACS) section moved to a new, larger space.  Effective immediately, customers with ACS appointments must enter through the South ‘side’ entrance of the Embassy. ACS (American Citizen Services) customers do not have to stand in the line with the visa applicants.  Come directly to the front of the line and look for the entrance marked for ACS. You may enter the ACS waiting room no earlier than 15 minutes prior to your appointment time.

After passing through security, make an immediate right into the ACS waiting room. The new ACS waiting room and office is twice as large as our old office, featuring more seating areas, a larger children’s play area, and a private nursing area for new mothers!  We look forward to your visit to the new American Citizen Services section.

For public transportation directions to US Embassy Seoul, please click the link below:

http://seoul.usembassy.gov/acs_directions.html

The old front entrance across Sejong Cultural Center is reserved for Special Consular Services only- which include deaths, arrests, medical, health, and legal issues.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, all Embassy Consular sections are unable to accept credit cards until further notice. We can only accept cash (U.S. dollars or Korean won). We apologize for the inconvenience. 

“Emergency Ready” app for smartphones and tablets

NEMAThe ROK National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provides an English-language version of its “Emergency Ready” app for smartphones and tablets.  The app is free and allows users to make emergency 119 calls quickly, locate the nearest emergency shelters, watch videos related to CPR, First Aid, etc.  Please consider installing the app on your smartphones/tablets and passing this to family members for their consideration.

 

Do I need to file taxes if I live abroad?

IRS 1040 Tax Form Being Filled Out www.seniorliving.orgMany Americans living abroad are aware that they will have little or no income tax liability, but a large number are unaware that they are still legally required to file their annual tax returns even if no money is owed.

According to the IRS, “the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad.” (see U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.)   This means that all Americans and resident aliens are required to file income tax returns each year, regardless of the income source.  Whether any taxes are actually owed, however, depends on the source(s) of income, amount of income, and length of time living or residing abroad during the tax year.

If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify to exclude foreign earnings up to $97,600 in TY 2013 and/or claim the foreign housing deduction.  Excludable earnings are adjusted annually for inflation, so you will have to remember to check the IRS website or consult with your tax attorney as you prepare to file each year.

The bad news: if you live abroad, but earn income from a U.S. source, you will not qualify for the foreign earnings exclusion.  If you fall into this category, however, you probably are already aware of this and have been filing your returns regularly.

The good news: “If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien residing overseas, or are in the military on duty outside the U.S., on the regular due date of your return, you are allowed an automatic 2-month extension to file your return and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. For a calendar year return, the automatic 2-month extension is to June 15.”  (see U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.)

Depending on your personal situation, filing from abroad could be relatively straightforward or very complex, and you may wish to consult with a tax professional.

Below are more resources that the IRS has made available to Americans living and working abroad:

New US Citizenship Rules Help Birth Mothers

baby's name

Mothers who gave birth to a child overseas with help from an egg donor can transmit citizenship under a new policy from the U.S. State Department.

The change took effect on Jan. 31.  For the first time, birth mothers who are not genetically related to their child can pass on U.S. citizenship.  Birth mothers will be treated the same as genetic mothers for purposes of acquiring citizenship.

The good news for such mothers is that the policy is retroactive.  That means that birth mothers can apply for U.S. citizenship for their children even if their application would have been turned down in the past.

The new policy officially means that both the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security will interpret the definition of “child” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to mean the child of a genetic or a gestational parent.  The baby will be treated as born in wedlock as long as both genetic or gestational parents are married at the time of the child’s birth.

Of course, a few caveats apply. The mother must be the legal parent of the child. And a U.S. consular officer must approve the request for an official birth certificate, known as a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, making sure that all requirements for citizenship are fulfilled.

Great article on the many ways U.S. Embassies help Americans abroad!

See what American Embassies can do for American citizens who live abroad!  Hit this link.

http://m.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/us-embassies-at-your-service-around-the-globe/2014/02/27/26104ff2-82de-11e3-bbe5-6a2a3141e3a9_story.html

Consular Services Outreach in Daegu, Monday and Tuesday April 28-29, 2014

Seoul logoDon’t have time to get to the Embassy in Seoul?  We will offer American citizen services in Daegu on April  28 (12:30pm to 5:00pm) and 29  (9:00 am to 1:00pm), 2014.  To schedule an appointment, call us at 02-397-4114 or email us at seoul_ACS@state.gov. For full details, visit http://seoul.usembassy.gov/acs_outreach.html

TAX SEASON APPROACHES!

taxI know, it’s not even March, but U.S. residents living abroad often need more time to get their taxes in order.

Did you know U.S. citizens and legal residents living outside the United States are taxed on their worldwide income? The good news is that up to $97,600 of your income is excluded, on top of which, you may be able to deduct certain foreign housing expenses.

Check out this this webpage for more forms and more info:http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Foreign-Earned-Income-Exclusion

AIR QUALITY: Chinese Smog and Dust Roll into Korea

smogWinter cold promotes a rise in coal burning in industrial China, which creates smog that then rolls across the sea into Korea.  Occasionally Korea’s winter skyline is blanketed by this haze (“mise meonji”).  The National Institute of Environmental Research says the smog contains high levels of heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, and expects the smog to become a more frequent problem for Korea.  Warnings of smog have sent sales of face masks soaring, along with detergents that claim to wash away bacteria and heavy metals.  Dustproof windshield wipers and air filters are popular.  To check Korean air quality data, see:  http://www.airkorea.or.kr/airkorea/eng/index.jsp

In the spring, the Yellow Dust (or “hwangsa”) from China’s Gobi Desert blows across northern China, where it can where it can pick up industrial pollution and then blow across the sea into Korea.  Dust concentrations vary greatly from place to place and day to day.  In high concentrations, Yellow Dust can aggravate respiratory illnesses and cause significant irritation to the eyes, throat, and lungs, especially for young children and the elderly.

If Yellow Dust levels exceed 400 micrograms/㎥, the Korea Meteorological Administration will issue an advisory to encourage the elderly, elementary schoolchildren, and those with respiratory illnesses to stay inside, and advising all residents to avoid strenuous outdoor activity.  If Yellow Dust levels exceed 800 micrograms/㎥, the government will issue a warning thatresidents should avoid any unnecessary outdoor activities; schools may be closed, and many outdoor events may be cancelled.  Korea Meteorological Administration provides an excellent English-language chart of yellow dust levels for all provinces and major cities in Korea (be sure to select your city or province from the menu on the top left of the chart).

Happy Lunar New Year!

happy_newYear2The Embassy is closed on Thursday and Friday, January 30 and 31 in observance of the Korean Lunar New Year.   We will reopen for regular business hours on Monday, February 3.

WHAT ABOUT MY SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS WHILE I’M IN KOREA?

SSN_BENEFITSIf you are an U.S. citizen residing in Korea, you may apply for a social security card or replacement card at the Embassy, and we will forward your application to the Social Security Administration’s regional office in Manila.

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul is NOT a Social Security claims-processing post.  For social security claims and other questions, please contact:

Social Security Administration
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Ermita, 0930 Manila
Philippines

Email: FBU.Manila@ssa.gov
Phone Number: (63)(2)301-2000
Fax Number: (63)(2)708-9723/9714

For more details about your Social Security benefits, please refer to the following website: http://seoul.usembassy.gov/acs_federal.html

KOREA’S DRUG ENFORCEMENT LAWS ARE VERY STRICT

illegal drugsA majority of U.S. citizens serving sentences in Korean prisons are doing so for possession of illegal drugs.  The Embassy cannot get involved in Korean police investigations, court prosecutions, or provide legal assistance.  People caught by the Korean police for illegal drug possession will be prosecuted to the full extent of Korean law and serve lengthy terms in Korean prison.

I’VE BEEN ARRESTED! I need a lawyer now!

ARRESTEDIn most cases, Korean law enforcement officials promptly notify the Embassy about the arrest or detention of any U.S. citizen.  The American Citizen Services section makes every effort to make an initial visit to the detainee soon after the arrest, with follow up visits periodically.  However, the U.S. Embassy cannot assist prisoners with legal representation.  Our job is to ensure that the arrested U.S. citizen is being treated fairly under local laws, understands the charges, has access to legal counsel, and has any special or emergency needs met to the extent possible.  The Embassy can also keep a detainee’s relatives or friends informed of the situation if that is the person’s wish.

Here is a list of local attorneys who speak English and may be able help you with your legal problem:  http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_lawyer_list.html

I’VE BEEN ROBBED! What should I do?

robberyKorea’s crime rate is very low, but crime does happen.  Here’s what you should do:

(1)  Contact the U.S. Embassy:  Consular officers are available to provide emergency assistance 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.  Our 24/7 operator number is +82-(0)2-397-4114.  If you have access to DSN, call 721-4114.

(2)  Contact the local police to report the incident and get immediate help.  Request a copy of the police report.

The Embassy is committed to assisting American citizens who are the victim of a crime overseas.  For more information see:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/victims_crime_overseas/victims_crime_overseas_1748.html

http://photos.state.gov/libraries/korea/187344/ACS/Victims_of_Crime.pdf

I LOST MY PASSPORT! And I have to travel for an emergency!

ppt_If you lost your passport and must travel for an emergency (e.g., medical emergency, death in family), the Embassy can issue a temporary passport for the purpose of emergency travel only.  You must appear at the Embassy in person and bring documentation of the emergency situation and your travel itinerary/plane ticket.  Moreover, you should fill out the online passport application using the “Passport Wizard” (https://pptform.state.gov/) and the DS-64 (statement regarding a lost or stolen passport) and bring them to the Embassy along with a photo I.D., proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity, passport photo, and fee ($135 for adults, $105 for children).  Please schedule an appointment on the Embassy’s appointment page:  http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_appt.html

If your passport was LOST or STOLEN—but you are NOT traveling for an emergency—then you must fill out the online passport application using the “Passport Wizard” and the DS-64 (statement regarding a lost or stolen passport) and bring them to the Embassy along with a photo I.D., proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity, passport photo, and fee ($135 for adults, $105 for children).  If your passport was stolen, please file a police report and bring a copy of the report with you.  A personal appearance is required, so schedule an appointment on the Embassy’s appointment page. You can get a new passport in 2 to 3 weeks.  For more information see: http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_lost_passport.html

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY – January 20

Dr. KingMartin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his tireless work to promote civil rights in the United States.  Dr. King came from a family of pastors, and he had a strong belief in the equality of all people and in non-violent methods to achieve social equality.  He grew up attending segregated public schools in Georgia, but he continued his education until he received his Ph.D. in 1955.  He worked as a pastor and an executive committee member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation.  In December 1955, he led a bus boycott lasting 382 days to protest segregation on buses, until the Supreme Court declared such segregation to be unconstitutional.

In 1957, Dr. King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from India’s Gandhi.  Dr. King spoke over 2,500 times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; he wrote five books and numerous articles.  He led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world.  He planned voter registration drives in Alabama.  He directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his famous speech, “l Have a Dream.”  On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.  Dr. King is a strong symbol in the America psyche of the ideal that we should make the world a better place.

The Embassy is closed on Monday, January 20 in observance of Martin Luther King Day.   We will reopen for regular business hours on Tuesday, January 21.

 

OUCH!!! I need a Doctor or Dentist who speaks English

doctorsThe Emergency Medical Information Center (dial 119 within Korea) has English speaking doctors available 24 hours a day to assist foreigners and provide them with relevant medical information in emergencies.

Here is a list of Korean doctors and dentists who speak acceptable English, who may be able to help you:  http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_health.html

Also, do you have health insurance?  Korean hospitals generally do not accept foreign medical insurance and expect advance payment for services in the form of cash or credit cards from foreigners.  If you’re relying on an insurance policy from the U.S., be sure to check with your company to determine if you have coverage overseas.

I’M RUNNING OUT OF PAGES IN MY PASSPORT! How do I get more?

PPTSIf your passport’s visa pages are becoming full, but your passport is still valid and in good condition, you may apply for additional visa pages.  One set of extra pages (you can choose between a set of 24 pages or 48 pages) costs $82.  Follow the instructions on this webpage: http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_add_pages.html

Seoul logoDon’t have time to get to the Embassy in Seoul? We will offer American citizen services in Busan on March 3rd (12:30pm to 5:00pm) and March 4th (9:00 am to 1:00pm).   To schedule an appointment, call us at 02-397-4114 or email us at seoul_ACS@state.gov.   For full details, visit http://busan.usconsulate.gov/citizen_service.html.

I WANT TO BE AN ENGLISH TEACHER IN KOREA!

teacherKorean students are generally bright and motivated, which can make teaching English here fun.  The Embassy’s webpage on teaching English in Korea is: http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_teaching.html

You should carefully review the terms of your employment contract, especially with regard to working and living conditions.  You will need an employment visa called E-2 (Teaching) visa from the Korean government.  To get the E-2 visa, you submit with your application a criminal records check, health certificate, and U.S. diplomas. Depending on the job and other factors, it can take from one week to two months get your E2 visa.  Within 90 days of arriving in Korea, you must register with Korean Immigration and obtain a residence certificate and re-entry permit.

WE’RE GOING ON A FAMILY VACATION! How do I get a passport for my baby or child?

family_vacationYou will need to bring your child’s U.S. Birth Certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CBRA), parents’ photo identifications,  proof that parents are related to the child, online passport application using the “Passport Wizard” ( https://pptform.state.gov/), passport photo, and fee of $105.

For applicants age 15 or younger, both parents must appear in person and sign the passport application before a U.S. consular officer.  Please schedule an appointment at the Embassy’s appointment page:  http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_appt.html

For more information see: http://seoul.usembassy.gov/acs_childs_first_passport.html

WE JUST HAD A BABY! Since we live overseas, how do I ensure my baby is recognized as a U.S. citizen?

new bornIf you or your spouse is a United States citizen, you should get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for your baby.  The CRBA is an official record of U.S. citizenship issued to a person under age 18 who was born abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) and acquired citizenship at birth. This document is used in the United States like a certified copy of a birth certificate, and it is acceptable evidence of citizenship for obtaining a passport and entering school. The Embassy strongly encourages all U.S. citizens with children born in Korea to apply for a CRBA as soon as possible after the birth of the child.  For more information see: http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/acs_report_of_birth.html

I WANT A JOB AT THE U.S. EMBASSY! How can I get hired?

Ambassador

If you don’t want to be a Foreign Service Officer (see last post on FSO jobs), but want to work at the U.S. Embassy, then take a look at the Embassy’s recruitment page:   http://seoul.usEmbassy.gov/134_job_opportunities.html

Admittedly, there are not many available jobs at the Embassy because people like working here.  But from time to time, there is an opening, so check our website once or twice a month.  When you see an announcement for an open position, and you feel that you fit those requirements, then please send us an application at that time.  Recruiting takes place only for the purpose of filling our advertised vacancies.  Hope to see you here!

 

I WANT TO BE A DIPLOMAT! How can I apply for this cool job?

DiplomatU.S. diplomats are called Foreign Service Officers.  While this job may appear glamorous (worldwide travel, government-paid housing, generous pay and benefits), the job can be very challenging and sometimes dangerous.  Serving as a FSO requires fortitude, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to changing situations and cultures.  The job application process is extremely competitive.  Most FSOs speak at least one foreign language and hold an advanced degree.

If you want to join the State Department as a FSO, your first step is to pass the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), which measures your knowledge, skills and abilities, including writing skills that are necessary to the work of a FSO.  The FSOT is administered three times a year.  You can register to take the FSOT in Korea.  The next test date is February 1 to 8, 2014.  For more information see:  http://careers.state.gov/officer/who-we-look-for

MY PASSPORT IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE! How do I get a new one?

pptFill out the DS-11 passport application using the “Passport Wizard” (https://pptform.state.gov/) and submit your old passport, proof of identity, passport photo, and fee ($135 for adults, $105 for children).  You can get a new passport in 2 to 3 weeks.   If you submit your old passport, then you do not need to come to the Embassy.  However, if you cannot submit your old passport (because is it lost or stolen), then you will need to make a personal appearance at the Embassy in order to get a new passport.

Frequently asked questions about passports are answered at:  http://usembassyseoulconsular.wordpress.com/frequently-asked-questions/

American Citizen Services (ACS) in DAEGU: January 27 and 28, 2014

namsan tower

When the Embassy’s ACS team visits Daegu on January 27 and 28, U.S. citizens can apply for U.S. passports, additional visa pages in their current passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and Social Security cards. A consular officer will also offer notary services and provide information regarding voting, federal benefits, and registration with the Embassy. The consular staff is also available to assist with emergencies involving U.S. citizens.

Please note that an appointment is required. To schedule an appointment, call the U.S. Embassy at 02-397-4114 or send an email to Seoul_ACS@state.gov. Please specify that you want to make an appointment for consular services in Daegu and which date you prefer.

Happy New Year!

The Embassy is closed on Wednesday, January 1 in observance of New Years.   We will reopen for regular business hours on Thursday, January 2.

happy_newYear

Season’s Greetings

The Embassy is closed on Wednesday, Dec ember 25 in observance of Christmas.   We will reopen for regular business hours on Thursday, December 26.

Christmas_tree

Affordable Care Act and U.S. Citizens Abroad

What are the implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) for U.S. citizens residing abroad?
U.S. citizens living abroad are generally subject to the same individual shared responsibility provision as U.S. citizens living in the United States.  Starting in 2014, the individual shared responsibility provision calls for each individual to have minimum essential coverage (“MEC”) for each month, qualify for an exemption, or make a payment when filing his or her federal income tax return.  However, U.S. citizens or residents living abroad for at least 330 days within a 12 month period are treated as having MEC during those 12 months and thus will not owe a shared responsibility payment for any of those 12 months. Also, U.S. citizens who qualify as a bona fide resident of a foreign country for an entire taxable year are treated as having MEC for that year.

For more information on this issue and on federal benefits for U.S. citizens abroad, please see the following link: http://travel.state.gov/travel/living/living_1234.html

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction entered into force between the United States and the Republic of Korea on November 1, 2013

HagueThe Convention is the primary civil law mechanism for parents seeking the return of children who have been abducted from or retained outside their country of habitual residence by another parent or family member.  Parents seeking access to children residing in treaty partner countries may also invoke the Convention.  The Convention is critically important because it establishes a formalized diplomatic channel through which partner countries can cooperate on international parental child abduction and establishes an internationally recognized framework to resolve parental abduction cases.  The Convention does not address who should have custody of the child; it addresses where the custody case should be heard.

For more information about international parental child abduction, please visit:  ChildrensIssues.state.gov

Consular Services Outreach in Daegu, Monday and Tuesday January 27 – 28, 2014

Don’t have time to get to the Embassy in Seoul?  We will offer American citizen services in Daegu on January 27-28, 2014.  For full details, visit http://seoul.usembassy.gov/acs_outreach.html.  To schedule an appointment, call us at 02-397-4114.

Celebrating Hanukkah in Seoul?

happy-hanukkah-300x225

Chabad House is hosting events on December 1,  http://jewishkorea.com/index.html

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving

The Embassy is closed on Thursday, November 28 in observance of Thanksgiving.   We will reopen for regular business hours on Friday, November 29.

We wish you a happy day of family, friends, and feasting.

Consular Services Outreach in Busan, Tuesday and Wednesday December 17 and 18, 2013

Don’t have time to get to the Embassy in Seoul? We will offer American citizen services in Busan on March 6-8. To schedule an appointment, call us at 02-397-4114. For full details, visit http://busan.usconsulate.gov/citizen_service.html

US Embassy Closed March 31, 2014

Due to unforseen circumstances, American Citizen Services at the US Embassy in Seoul will be closed March 31, 2014. For emergencies please contact 82-2-397-4114.