Meet ACS at USFK Installaions

We offer U.S. passport, birth registration (Consular Report of Birth Abroad), Social Security Card and Notarial services at USFK installations throughout Korea. Please note that off-site services are reserved for applicants who have or can secure base access. For the most up-to-date information, visit our U.S. Embassy Website.
https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/off-site-services/

No Eyeglasses Policy for Passport Photos

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Effective November 1, 2016, we will no longer accept passport photos in which the applicant is wearing glasses. This applies to minors and adults. You do not need to replace your current passport if your photo includes eyeglasses. New passport applications submitted with photos that do not meet requirements could delay applications and interfere with travel plans.

Social Security Numbers Required on Passport Applications

As of October 1, 2016, all U.S. citizens applying for a passport will be required to include their Social Security number on their application form. U.S. citizens who were never issued a Social Security number can apply for one along with the passport application or sign a sworn statement declaring that they have never applied for a number. To submit a first-time Social Security application, you will need to have one form of valid U.S. government-issued identification. You can find the SS-5 application and instructions at this link. If you have a number but do not remember it, contact the Social Security Administration (FBU.Manila@ssa.gov) BEFORE submitting your passport application. This new policy applies to routine passport services and will not prevent emergency travel to the United States.

NOTE: Applicants without an SSN will no longer be able to mail or courier their DS-82 (adult renewals) and DS-5504 (e.g. limited passport replacement) forms to the Embassy. Please make an appointment to be interviewed in person.

Can I get married to a same-sex spouse in Korea?

The Republic of Korea (ROK) government does not recognize same-sex marriages, even if those marriages are legally-recognized and performed in other countries, such as the United States.

DO NOT BRING YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES TO THE EMBASSY

no electronic

Electronic devices such as cameras, cell phones, laptops, and MP3 players may not be brought inside the Embassy.  Please leave these items at home or make arrangements for their storage before arriving at the Embassy.  Doing so will result in speedier processing into the Embassy.  The Embassy has no capacity to store your devices.

 

Am I ready to travel?

Tickets to an exotic, fun destination?
Swimsuit, iPad, sunscreen?
Necessary vaccinations? Not sure …
Passport valid for another 6 months and sufficient empty visa pages? Huh?

All too often, Embassy Seoul receives calls from anxious American citizens who are stuck at Incheon International Airport. The stories are similar and often go something like this:

 “John” is traveling from Seoul to Thailand with non-refundable tickets for a dream vacation, but the airline denied him boarding. “Mary” is traveling from Los Angeles to Manila with a layover in Seoul, but was prevented from boarding her continuing flight to the Philippines.

Both passengers are carrying valid U.S. passports. So what’s the problem? Their passports are expiring too soon (in less than 6 months). Or, their passport visa pages are too full and have no space for entry stamps for their destinations.

These visitors learned the hard way that many countries in Asia and around the world will not permit travelers to enter unless their passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their intended departure. These countries include — but are not limited to — Thailand, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos and Cambodia. These same countries also require visitors to have at least one blank visa page in their passport. A handful of countries go a step further: China, Singapore and Indonesia (specifically Bali) require visitors to have at least two remaining blank visa pages in their passport.

Step-by-step guide to a fun summer vacation

Before packing your sunscreen and swimsuit, it’s important to carefully check your passport, especially the expiration date. Don’t let your travel plans get delayed by poor planning. If you discover your passport is expiring soon, visit the Embassy Seoul website ( https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports) for information on renewing your passport. We recommend U.S. citizens renew their passport no later than 7 months before the expiration date. We can normally renew your passport in 2-3 weeks, so your valid passport won’t become invalid.

The next step is to check the entry requirements for the country you are visiting. Begin by visiting Travel.State.Gov (http://travel.state.gov). Next, type in the name of the country you are visiting in the “Learn about your destination” box. The first item you’ll see are any Travel Alerts or Travel Warnings pertaining to that country. Below under “Quick Facts” is a summary of entry and exit requirements. In addition to passport validity and visa page requirements, you’ll also learn whether your destination country requires a visa or vaccinations.

Below the “Quick Facts” box, take a few minutes to read through the Country Specific Information (CSI), which includes important information about your destination country such as U.S. Embassy and Consulates contact information, security & safety concerns, local laws, LGBT travel and more.

If you follow these steps, you can plan ahead and have a fun summer!

Did you submit a Social Security number application for your child at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea? Please see below for the answers to some of the questions we receive most frequently to better understand the Social Security number (SSN) application process.

SSA
Q: Will my child’s SSN application be processed at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea?

No, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul is not a Social Security claims-processing post. Once we have received a Social Security application, we will then forward it to the Social Security Administration (SSA) office in Manila for processing.

Q: How long will it take to process a Social Security card and where will it be mailed?

A: It may take 3-6 months or longer for applicants to receive an actual Social Security card from the SSA office. When a Social Security number (SSN) is assigned to the applicant, a SSN card will be mailed directly to the address provided on the SSN application.

Q: Can the U.S. Embassy check the status of my child’s application?

A: No, once we have forwarded SSN applications to the SSA office in Manila, we have no access to SSN application records. If you wish to check the status of your child’s application, we suggest you wait about 3 months from the date you submitted the application and then directly contact the SSA office in Manila to inquire about the SSN application status. Their contact information is below:

Social Security Administration
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Ermita, 0930 Manila
Philippines

Email: FBU.Manila@ssa.gov
Phone Number: (63)(2)301-2000

Q: I know I must wait about 3-6 months to receive a SSN card. However, is there any way for me to know the SSN before the card is mailed to us? If so, how long does it take for us to be allocated a SSN and whom should we contact to find out the assigned number?

A: In general, it will take about 2-3 months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) office to allocate an SSN to an individual. If it has been more than 3 months, you may directly contact the SSA office to find out the assigned SSN number.

Q: I’ve already contacted the Social Security office to inquire about the Social Security number (SSN) assigned to my child and was told that they sent my child’s SSN information to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. Where should I contact to find out my child’s SSN?

A: Please send an email to SeoulinfoACS@state.gov with your child’s full name and date of birth. We will check our records and reply to you with further instructions. If your child’s SSN has been forwarded to our office, you will have to make a personal appearance here to retrieve the number as it is not possible to send it via telephone, fax or email due to security and privacy considerations.

How or where do I report a missing payment check?

Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Seoul is not a Social Security claims-processing post. The Social Security Administration’s regional office is located in Manila, Philippines. If you have not received a check by the date on which it usually comes, please wait until the end of that month. If you have not received it by the end of the month, you should notify the Social Security Administration in Manila of the non-receipt of the check by email. Their email address is FBU.manila@ssa.gov. When sending an email, include the following information.

• Name of beneficiary and claim number or Social Security Number
• The month of benefit payment you did not receive
• Current address
• Contact information such as telephone number or email

What are developmental photos?

Develpment photo sample

Pop Quiz: Are the children in the 2 photos the same person?

As a child grows older, he or she changes significantly to the point where their face no longer resembles their previous passport photo.  This is especially true if the last passport was issued when the child was an infant.  As a result, it is often very difficult to recognize that the applicant and the person in the previous passport photo are one and the same person.

For that reason, we request the parents bring photos that show the physical development of their child since their last passport was issued. We suggest that you submit at least one photo from every year since the last passport was issued. Failure to do so may result in delay of issuing your child’s passport until you can provide such photos.

Development photos may also apply to first time adult passport applicants.  Adults can change too!  If you’ve had a dramatic change in appearance since your last passport photo – such as a significant weight loss or plastic surgery – the consular officer may request that you present developmental photos or other documentation.

All development photos will be returned to the parents/applicants.  Please do not bring photos on your phone or other mobile device; electronic devices are not permitted in the consular waiting room.

Answer: The 2 photos are the same person! Surprised?  This is why we need development photos.

 

When a Valid Passport Isn’t Really Valid

state.travel websiteAll too often, Embassy Seoul receives calls from anxious American citizens who are stuck at Incheon International Airport.  The stories are similar and often go something like this: “John” is traveling from Seoul to Thailand with non-refundable tickets for a dream vacation, but the airline denied him boarding. “Mary” is traveling from Los Angeles to Manila with a layover in Seoul, but was prevented from boarding her continuing flight to the Philippines. Both passengers are carrying valid U.S. passports. So what’s the problem?  Their passports are expiring too soon. Or, their passport visa pages are too full.

These visitors learned the hard way that many countries in Asia and around the world will not permit travelers to enter unless their passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their intended departure.  These countries include — but are not limited to — Thailand, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos and Cambodia.  These same countries also require visitors to have at least one blank visa page in their passport.  A handful of countries go a step further:  China, Singapore and Indonesia (specifically Bali) require visitors to have at least two remaining blank visa pages in their passport.

Before packing your sunscreen and swimsuit, it’s important to carefully check your passport, especially the expiration date.  The next step is to check the entry requirements for the country you are visiting.  Begin by visiting Travel.State.Gov (http://travel.state.gov).  Next, type in the name of the country you are visiting in the “Learn about your destination” box. The first item you’ll see are any Travel Alerts or Travel Warnings pertaining to that country. Below under “Quick Facts” is a summary of entry and exit requirements. In addition to passport validity and visa page requirements, you’ll also learn whether your destination country requires a visa or vaccinations.

Below the “Quick Facts” box, take a few minutes to read through the Country Specific Information (CSI), which includes important information about your destination country such as U.S. Embassy and Consulates contact information, security & safety concerns, local laws, LGBT travel and more.

Don’t let your travel plans get delayed by poor planning. If you discover your passport is expiring soon, visit the Embassy Seoul website (http://seoul.usembassy.gov/acs_us_passports.html) for information on renewing your passport.  We recommend U.S. citizens renew their passport no later than 7 months before the expiration date. We can normally renew your passport in 2-3 weeks, so your valid passport won’t become invalid.

“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.

“One Cellphone Only” Policy for Access to American Citizen Services

Applicants visiting the Embassy will be allowed to check in only one cell phone and one set of electronic car keys before entering the building.  No other devices will be permitted, and the Embassy has no capacity to store them. Please leave these items at home or make arrangements for their storage before arriving for your appointment.  For more information, please click here.