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Welcome to the July 2010 ACS newsletter!

To subscribe to the ACS Newsletter (it's free), just go to our website and enter your email address.

Here are the topics for this month

Services

New Schedule of Consular Fees to Take Effect on July 13, 2010

On June 28, 2010, the U.S. Department of State published its Schedule of Fees for Consular Services in the Federal Register. The schedule includes fees for passports, immigrant visas and other consular services. The changes will take effect on July 13, 2010, 15 days after publication in the Federal Register. The revised fees will cover actual operating expenses for the 301 overseas consular posts, 23 domestic passport agencies and other centers that provide these consular services to U.S. and foreign citizens.

The 27 adjusted fees are based on a Cost of Service Study completed by the Bureau of Consular Affairs in June 2009. The study, which was the most detailed and exhaustive ever conducted by the U.S. Department of State, established the true cost of providing these consular services, which the Department recovers through the collection of fees.

A full list of adjusted fees can be viewed online here.

New U.S. law makes voting easier for Americans abroad

This coming November, U.S. voters will elect 39 U.S. Senators and the entire House of Representatives. For overseas voters, the absentee voting process will be much easier, thanks in large part to a new law - the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act - that the U.S. Congress enacted last year.

To vote absentee, U.S. citizens living overseas must be registered to vote, and must request an absentee ballot. You can accomplish both tasks by completing a Federally-issued combination voter registration application and absentee ballot request form known as the Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA. This form, along with State-by-State instructions, is available on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov, or from the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan.

The new law gives U.S. citizens overseas the ability to request and receive absentee ballots electronically. Just send in a new FPCA with your email and/or complete fax number clearly written out. U.S. citizens who have changed their names, addresses, or email addresses, or who are infrequent voters, should also submit a new FPCA.

Be sure to follow your State’s instructions carefully when completing the form and sending it to local election officials in the United States. Both the FVAP website and the Overseas Vote Foundation website have wizards that assist you in completing and addressing the FPCA.

If you do not receive your absentee ballot after sending in your FPCA within a reasonable time period, notify your local election officials by phone or email. You can also use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) as a back-up emergency ballot. Check www.FVAP.gov .

FVAP marks Armed Forces and Overseas Citizens' Voters Week

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) will launch an online voter registration assistant in conjunction with Armed Forces Voters Week (AFVW) and Overseas Citizens’ Voters Week (OCVW) June 28-July 7, to help more than 6 million military, their voting age dependents, and overseas voters better navigate the registration process. The new online FVAP Voter Registration Assistant, available Monday, helps automate a once cumbersome, manual process in advance of the mid-term elections. Go to www.fvap.gov to register and request your absentee ballot.

Attention voters: Georgia and Oklahoma to hold primaries in July

The following States will hold Primary Elections during July, 2010, on the dates indicated:

July 20, 2010Georgia
July 27, 2010Oklahoma

Register and request your absentee ballot now.

Anyone who has not yet submitted a registration and ballot request (FPCA) for the 2010 calendar year should do so as soon as possible. The FPCA ballot application and instructions are available at www.fvap.gov/FPCA. Click on your State on the map and follow the instructions to register and request an absentee ballot. Some States allow submission of the FPCA by fax or email in addition to regular mail.

For more information, please visit this Web page and click on the news release for your state.

Federal Voting Assistance Program now on Facebook

You can now follow the Federal Voting Assistance Program on Facebook. Click this link or just search for the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Travel.state.gov website re-launches with new look and feel

On May 25, 2010, the State Department re-launched the travel.state.gov site in an effort to continually improve the availability of consular information to the public. The first phase of the redesign focuses on making the look and feel of the site more closely resemble that of www.state.gov while cleaning up some of the site's navigation tools. If readers notice any broken links in the Tokyo ACS site, please let us know by sending an e-mail to tokyoacs@state.gov.


Security Situation

Security reminder: There is no specific threat information for American citizens in Japan. However, it's a good idea for you and your family to review your personal security profile and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The Department of State maintains its Worldwide Caution issued Feb. 12, 2010, which updated information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests throughout the world.

Since our previous ACS Newsletter, the U.S. Department of State has issued new Travel Warnings for the following countries. This information is available online here.

Since our previous ACS Newsletter, the U.S. Department of State has issued Travel Warnings for the following countries:

Haiti6/24/2010
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza6/20/2010
Guinea6/16/2010
Nepal6/15/2010

More information from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is available on their warden messages page.

Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.

The U.S. Department of State also has issued new Travel Alerts for:

Jamaica6/24/2010
Pacific Typhoon Season6/16/2010
Hurricane Season6/16/2010
South Africa5/25/2010

Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions generally within a particular country or region that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert. This information is available online here.

The most up-to-date information regarding permitted and prohibited items on flights can be viewed online here.

For additional information, please visit "Americans Traveling Abroad" on the U.S. Department of State website. Students traveling abroad may wish to visit the State Department site designed especially for them.

To obtain up-to-date information on security conditions, please call 1-888-407-4747 (toll free in the United States), or +1-202-501-4444 if you are outside the United States.


FYI: U.S. visa fees increased on June 4

Although this news does not affect U.S. citizens directly, if you work with anyone seeking a U.S. non immigrant visa, you can let them know that fees increased on June 4, 2010. The fees for the most common non immigrant visas: the B1 visa for business, the B2 visa for tourism, the F visa for students and the J visa for exchange program participants will increase to $140. The new fees for H, L, O, P, Q, and R visas will be $150; for E visas $390, and K visas $350.

For more information about the fee increase, please click here.

For an explanation of the types of visas or to answer any other question you might have about visas, please click here.

Check out "Z Notes," the official blog of the U.S. Embassy in Japan

After being published for a solid year, the official U.S. Embassy in Japan blog, "Z Notes" is still going strong. You can read the latest version online here.

Our Deputy Chief of Mission, Jim Zumwalt, welcomes blog topic suggestions from our readers. You can make suggestions or comment on items that have already been written by visiting the above link.

Miyazaki consular visit

The U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka is planning a consular visit to Miyazaki on July 29th. American Citizen consular staff will be available to accept passport applications and perform notarial services for Americans. For more information and to schedule an appointment, please call 092-751-9331.

Friendship Day August 21

The U.S. Embassy will host its annual Embassy Community Friendship Day Celebration on August 21 at the United States Embassy's Mitsui Residential Compound. This celebration will take place on Saturday, August 21 from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. rain or shine. However, if it looks as if a Typhoon will be hitting Tokyo on that day, then this event will be moved to August 28. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the event at the compound's Perry gate.

Ticket prices are 1,000 yen per person. Children under 5 years of age are free. (Please note: Admission tickets are limited to 4,500 and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis until they are sold out. No admission will be allowed without a ticket).

The price of admission includes free beverages, and participation in all of the entertainment, games and events. Activities will include a parade down Main Street USA, concerts and a game corner for children. In order to gain admission into the compound, anyone over 15 years of age must have photo identification. We ask that you please do NOT bring backpacks or other large bags. Pets are also forbidden. Strollers and bags will be searched for security reasons.

We look forward to seeing you and sharing this great event with all of you.

Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates on Japan will be closed on the following dates:


Independence DayJuy 4 (Observed Monday, July 5)
Marine Day (Japanese holiday)July 19 (Monday)

A full list of all of our holiday closings is available online here.

American citizens who require emergency assistance during holidays should contact the office serving their part of Japan, a list of which is available online here.

To view the business hours for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and all of the U.S. Consulates in Japan, please check here.


Leaving Japan?

If you are departing from Japan after a long stay here, and you formally registered your stay with the Embassy or closest U.S. consulate, please be sure to "cancel" your registration when you leave.

You can deregister yourself by visiting the travelregistration.state.gov site.

You may also want to consider unsubscribing from the newsletter mailing list. Please see the instructions on how to accomplish this below.

How to Unsubscribe

If you are leaving Japan or otherwise wish to unsubscribe from this list you can unsubscribe by writing from the same email address you used to subscribe, and send a blank e-mail to:

leave-tokyoacs@mh.databack.com

If you need to receive these newsletters at a different email address, unsubscribe first, using the old address, and subscribe again from the new address.

Contact us:

American Embassy in Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
Tel: 03-3224-5174
Fax: 03-3224-5856
http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html

The Embassy helps Americans in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.

American Consulate General Sapporo
American Citizen Services
Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome
Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821
Tel: 011-641-1115
Fax: 011-643-1283

The Consulate in Sapporo helps Americans in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi. As there are times when both officers are away from the office, we ask that you make an appointment before coming to the Consulate General.

American Consulate Nagoya
Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor
1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001
TEL (052) 581-4501
FAX (052) 581-3190

Consulate Nagoya provides emergency consular services including death and arrest cases for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures. Please call Nagoya or Osaka for confirmation before traveling to Nagoya if you believe you have an emergency situation. Routine American Citizen services are provided by appointment only. If an appointment is not available, American residents may also receive service at the Consulate in Osaka.

American Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
American Citizen Services
11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome
Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543
Tel: 06-6315-5912
Fax: 06-6315-5914

The Consulate in Osaka helps Americans in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama.

American Consulate Fukuoka
American Citizen Services
5-26, Ohori 2-chome
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052
Tel: 092-751-9331
Fax: 092-713-9222

The Consulate in Fukuoka helps Americans in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi prefectures. All American Citizen Services are by appointment only.

American Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama,
Urasoe City
Okinawa 901-2104
Phone: 098-876-4211
Fax: 098-876-4243
DSN: 645-7323

The Consulate in Naha helps Americans in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group (which is the southern island group of Kagoshima Prefecture).

Travel, safety and security information is also available directly from the Department of State.


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