Hello, World!

On March 31, 2011, in Services, by Hyderabad ACS

And … we’re live!

Today we are officially launching ACSess, the American Citizen Services blog of the Consulate General of the United States in Hyderabad, India. Thanks for dropping by!

Our goal is to provide American citizens in the Hyderabad consular district — longtime residents as well as those just passing through — with one-stop access to information about services available to them through the Consulate and other U.S. Government agencies.

Whether you’re looking for information on travel, taxes, voting, consular services, safety and security, health, or other U.S. Government services, you can access that information here at ACSess!

We also have a second goal, which is to increase the number of Americans who participate in the Safe Traveller Enrollment Program. This important, free service allows American citizens — permanent residents, temporary travellers or their parents — to sign up for imporant safety updates from the Consulate in times of crisis. As recent events in Egypt, Libya and Japan have shown, enrollment offers American citizens access to critical services in emergency situations — why not sign up today?

In time, we hope this becomes a conversation as well as an information source. We welcome your questions and comments, feedback and constructive criticism, which you can leave in the moderated comment section below or by contacting us at HydACS@state.gov.

So welcome! And we hope to see you here again soon.

Disaster Readiness — Are You Prepared?

On March 30, 2011, in Advice, by Hyderabad ACS

The recent events in Japan serve as a reminder that we should all take action to help protect ourselves and our families in the event of an emergency. In order to best prepare for disasters, either natural hazards or terrorism-related, we’d like to point you to a valuable resource created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness” is an information source on citizen preparedness and contains step-by-step advice on how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

Used in conjunction with information and instructions from local emergency management offices and the American Red Cross, Are You Ready? will give you what you need to be prepared.

Visit the FEMA website to download “Are you Ready?”.

How to File Your Taxes for Free

On March 30, 2011, in Taxes, by Hyderabad ACS

The folks over at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) want you to know that U.S. citizens and resident aliens living outside the United States can use IRS Free File to prepare and file their federal tax returns electronically.

 IRS Free File is brand-name software that is offered exclusively at IRS.gov, through a partnership with the tax software industry.

 There are five companies that accept foreign addresses. Taxpayers should review the list of tax forms supported by the company to ensure it meets their needs, especially Form 1116, Foreign Tax Credit, and/or Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income.

Continue reading »

Help Design New Overseas Voting Forms!

On March 29, 2011, in Voting, by Hyderabad ACS

The folks over at the Federal Voting Assistance Program are updating the forms used by overseas voters, and they want your help!  

The registration/ballot request form, or (Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)) and back-up ballot, or Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), forms are being updated to increase their ease-of-use and effectiveness.

FVAP is seeking technical and design comments and recommendations from:

  • Those who use the forms: military members, their spouses and overseas citizens;
  • State and local election officials who process these forms;
  • Organizations who assist the above groups; and
  • Members of the general public

Continue reading »

All About Notarial services

On March 25, 2011, in Services, by Hyderabad ACS

Consular officials at any U.S. embassy or consulate abroad can provide a service similar to the functions of a notary public in the United States. Notarial services can be performed for any individual, regardless of nationality, as long as the document being notarized is intended for use in the United States. The services provided include:

  • Affidavits: written declarations made under oath of affirmation; a sworn statement.
  • Acknowledgments: an acknowledgement of the signatures on documents that will be used in the United States attesting to the identity of the person executing the document. Generally used with deeds, powers of attorney, bills of sale, corporate acknowledgements, etc.
  • Certification of Photocopies

The fee is $50 USD for each notarization. Visit our website http://hyderabad.usconsulate.gov/notary_service.html for more information or to make an appointment.

Although we cannot authenticate U.S. documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees or death certificates, the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office may be able to assist you.

Visit their website http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/ for further detail.

New Requirement for U.S. Birth Certificates

On March 25, 2011, in Kids, by Hyderabad ACS

New U.S. Birth Certificate Requirement

Beginning April 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of State will require the full names of the applicant’s parent(s) to be listed on all certified birth certificates to be considered as primary evidence of U.S. citizenship for all passport applicants, regardless of age.  Certified birth certificates missing this information will not be acceptable as evidence of citizenship.  This will not affect applications already in-process that have been submitted or accepted before the effective date. 

For more information, see 22 CFR 51.42(a).

To obtain a new birth certificate, see the CDC.

In addition to this requirement, certified copies of birth certificates must also include the following information to be considered acceptable primary evidence of U.S. citizenship:

  • Full name of the applicant
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal of issuing authority
  • Registrar’s signature
  • The date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office (must be within one year)

 If you have a birth certificate that does not meet these requirements, please see Secondary Evidence of U.S. Citizenship.

From http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_5401.html

Special Election in the Golden State

On March 25, 2011, in Voting, by Hyderabad ACS

On Tuesday, May 17, 2011, there will be a special primary election held in the 36th Congressional District of California to fill the seat vacated by Representative Jane Harman. The election is being conducted as a Top-Two Primary. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes (50% + 1) in the special primary election, the special general election scheduled for July 12, 2011 will not be held. If no candidate wins a majority, the top two vote-getters (regardless of political party affiliation) will compete in the special general election.

To determine if your legal residence is in the 36th Congressional District, click on www.house.gov. The district, in its entirety, is located within Los Angeles County.

Continue reading »

Don’t be a Spring Break horror story!

On March 19, 2011, in Kids, by Hyderabad ACS

As spring break approaches, many students are preparing for a trip abroad. The State Department’s website for students traveling overseas provides useful safety and travel information for parents and students alike: studentsabroad.state.gov.

The majority of students will have safe and enjoyable adventures. However, even on the best-planned trips, things can go wrong. Each year more than 2,500 U.S. citizens are arrested abroad, nearly half of them on narcotics charges, including possession of very small amounts of illegal substances. U.S. citizens have been badly injured or killed in accidents, falls, and other mishaps. Many of these incidents have been linked to alcohol and drug use. Other spring break vacationers have been sexually assaulted or robbed because they found themselves in unfamiliar locales, incapable of protecting themselves because of drug or alcohol use, or because they were victims of a “date rape” drug.

The most common cause of death of U.S. citizens overseas, other than natural causes, is by motor vehicle accident. Students traveling abroad should be aware that standards of safety overseas are different from those in the United States.

We urge all U.S. citizens traveling, studying, or residing abroad to sign up online for our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment makes it possible for the State Department to contact the student traveler in the case of a family emergency in the United States or because of a crisis in a foreign country.

Please see the Department of Homeland Security’s web site www.getyouhome.gov for more information on the requirements for a passport, passport card, or other approved document to reenter the United States after travel abroad.

“Why do YOU vote?” Contest Deadlines are Approaching

On March 19, 2011, in Voting, by Hyderabad ACS

Now is your chance to express your thoughts on the importance of voting by entering the 2011 FVAP Voting Slogan Contest and Poster Contest. The April 8, 2011 deadline for submissions is fast approaching.

The winning contest entries will be used to promote interest in the electoral process among military members, their families and U.S. citizens worldwide for the 2012 presidential election year. It is easy to participate via use of Challenge.gov.

The FVAP Poster Contest seeks artwork illustrating the importance of and/or how it feels to be an American citizen voting absentee from anywhere in the world. This artwork will be used to create the 2012 voting poster and Voting Assistance Guide cover. The FVAP Poster Contest details are located at FVAP.gov and http://challenge.gov/challenges/116. All artistic skill levels are encouraged to create and submit entries.

The FVAP Slogan Contest asks for slogan ideas that inspire members of the military, their families and U.S. Citizens residing overseas to start or continue to participate in elections while away from home and can be found at FVAP.gov and http://challenge.gov/challenges/115. The slogan will also be used on the 2012 Voting poster.

Visit FVAP for further information.

Hey New Yorkers: Time to Vote!

On March 19, 2011, in Voting, by Hyderabad ACS

On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, New York will hold a special election for the 26th Congressional District, to fill the seat vacated by Representative Christopher J. Lee. The 26th Congressional District includes the following counties: Erie, Genesee,Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming.

To determine if your legal residence is in the 26th Congressional District, go to: http://www.house.gov/, then use the “Find Your Representative” dialog on the upper left corner. To vote in this election you must register by submitting a post-marked Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) by April 29, 2011. New York also allows you to email or fax the FPCA, but you still must mail it as well to insure you meet the signature requirements.

Your FPCA must be received by your local New York Board of Elections Office by May 4, 2011. Go to www.fvap.gov and get started! It only takes a few minutes!