Voting; New Passport, Visa Photo Policy; Request for Public Comments

Message to U.S. Citizens
November 1, 2016

Don’t wait, return your voted ballot right away! Remember U.S. embassies and consulates are not polling places; same-day in-person voting is not available outside the United States.  The majority of states require voted ballots to reach local election officials by the close of polls on Tuesday, November 8.  U.S. citizens who want to participate in the 2016 U.S. elections should already have returned their absentee ballots to their local election officials

Never received your ballot?  If you registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot prior to your state’s registration deadline, but have not yet received your ballot, complete and return a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to ensure your vote reaches election officials by your state’s deadline.  If your regular ballot arrives later, complete and return it as well.  Your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot will only be counted if your regular ballot does not reach local election officials by your state’s deadline.  Your vote will not be counted twice.

RETURNING YOUR BALLOT:

The final date to return your paper ballot to your local election officials by election day for free via the U.S. Embassy is October 18, 2016 .  If you wish to drop off your ballot, or have a friend or colleague drop it off for you, place it in either a postage-paid envelope or envelope bearing domestic U.S. postage addressed to your local election officials.  Ballots in envelopes may be left at the Embassy in a dropbox located immediately inside the door at the consular entrance.  If you have any questions about voting procedures, please send an email to ACS.Managua@state.gov.

Missed the U.S. Embassy shipment deadline?  Consider returning your ballot to the United States via an express courier service such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL or electronically if allowed by your state.  Ballots sent to local election officials via express courier service do not receive standard postmarks, so voters using this method should confirm delivery on or before November 8 prior to payment and shipment.  Check your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov for guidance.

Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by email or fax.  If you have previously registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot but it has not yet arrived, the following states allow voters to use email or fax to send signed, voted Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots to local election officials:  Alaska (fax only), Arizona (contact election official first), Arkansas (fax only), Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida (fax only), Hawaii (fax only), Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana (fax only), Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska (fax only paper copy must also be mailed), Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma (fax only), Oregon (paper copy must also be mailed), Rhode Island (fax only), South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.  Review your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov carefully for guidance.

Returning your ballot by international mail delivery.  If using Nicaragua’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.  Ballots sent via regular international mail from Nicaragua at this late date may not reach local election officials by state ballot receipt deadlines.

HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT OVERSEAS VOTING.  Please help spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues that now is the time to start thinking about overseas voting.  Consider posting to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other social media account that you are an active voter and will be dropping off or mailing your Federal Post Card Application or completed ballot.  Use #ProudOverseasVoter to help get the word out about voting.

Need help?  You can get in-person assistance from our Embassy Voting Assistance Officers during regular Embassy hours.

Have Questions?  Please contact ACS.Managua@state.gov.  You can also contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program directly if you encounter issues with local election officials by emailing Vote@FVAP.gov or toll free by phone from many countries around the world.

Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website at www.FVAP.gov.

No Eyeglasses Policy for Visa and Passport Photographs.    Please note that effective November 1, 2016, photographs of visa and passport applicants wearing eyeglasses will no longer be accepted except in rare, medically-documented circumstances.   Please ensure that you and your acquaintances are not wearing eyeglasses in any photographs submitted for these purposes. Eyeglasses are only acceptable if they cannot be removed for medical reasons, e.g., the applicant has recently had ocular surgery and the eyeglasses are necessary to protect the applicant’s eyes.  A medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner is required in these cases.

Request for Public Comments on Passport Execution Fee Change.    The Department of State has published a notice of proposed rulemaking that notifies the public of the intention to raise the passport execution fee by $10, from $25 to $35.  The proposed rule is published and public comments are invited at www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/19/2016-22215/schedule-of-fees-for-consular-services-department-of-state-and-overseas-embassies-and.  The deadline for public comments is November 18, 2016.  The passport execution fee is applicable to all first-time passport applicants and certain other applicants who must apply in person, including minors under the age of 16.  The passport execution fee change will take effect at some point no earlier than 30 days after publication of the fee change as a Final Rule in the Federal Register.

For further information about security in Nicaragua:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Nicaragua Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler-Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, located at Km 5 ½ C. Sur Managua, Nicaragua, at 011-505-2252-7100, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The American Citizen Services unit is also available by email during regular business hours at ACS.Managua@state.gov.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

END U.S. CITIZEN MESSAGE