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About sen

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    Junior Member

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  • SA Location
    Cape Town
  • Language
  1. The confusion is due to whether or not we need to submit returns or not. Even with 0 SA income, we are apparently supposed to report our worldwide income to SARS, even though we will owe them nothing. Technically, it looks like we can be fined for this, but in practice, from what I’ve managed to gather at least, this has never occurred. A) SARS doesn’t know what your worldwide income is and B), chasing down people who don’t owe any taxes and fining them isn’t a good use of resources.
  2. Thanks all. After talking to an SA accountant about all this, his take was that FE is not necessary for me (because I have no RA or substantial cash/assets there). It’s a gray area about the returns, but I am not considered to be owing any returns or any monies right now (an accountant can query SARS about this with your tax number, BTW). Also, the 2020 ruling is for tax-residents only, which should exclude those of us who are clearly not that tied to SA. In my situation I own a US home, have US citizenship, and have spent maybe 2 months in SA in the last 15 years. There appears to be a lot of scary misinformation being spread right now, particularly by companies that profit from providing FE services.
  3. Hi all, I’ve been in the US for almost 15 years now and I am a US citizen (retained SA citizenship too). I filed null tax returns for my first two years, but stopped after (documentation at the time suggested that given I had no SA income at all, this wasn’t necessary). This seems to be a murky issue - some say that even tax non-residents who are below the taxable income threshold should have been submitting. I am planning a visit to SA (first in many years), and am wondering if this could be an issue? Is this checked when I go through immigration? I am planning to file for FE this year because of the 2020 rules coming up. Any thoughts would be welcome. Thanks!
  4. Thanks Eileen, I may just go for the green card notarized photocopy.
  5. Hi all, So my wife and I have had our green cards for 6 years now, and think that it's about time we applied for US citizenship. We would like to retain our SA citizenship. I can see a list of documents to be submitted here: http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/homeaffairs/citizenship.htm Some things that they aren't clear on: 1) They want a notarized copy of documents that give proof of SA citizenship - they list ID, Passport and Birth Certificate. Is one sufficient, or are all required? The language isn't that clear ("such" appears to imply that only one is necessary). I have my ID and Passport here. Has anyone here successfully submitted, say just a passport? 2) They want a notarized letter confirming that the foreign citizenship hasn't been taken up - who writes this letter? I can write it, and sign it and get it notarized of course. Or do they want something from a US authority? If so who/where? (I am in Chicago BTW). Any other tips? Thanks!
  6. sen

    Travel Through The Uk

    Thanks, that link was very useful. Yes, it looks like I don't need one - great! BTW, does anyone know the reason for this restriction? Reciprocity? Security?
  7. I want to travel through the UK to SA (way more convenient than through Atlanta/NY due to time+cost). Specifically, San Francisco to Cape Town. Apparently the UK now (since July 2009) requires SA citizens to have a DATV (Direct-Air Transit Visa) just to travel through, even if they don't go through immigration. I also see that green card holders (I am one) are exempt. The website then qualifies exempt, as "may" be allowed through at the "discretion" of an immigration officer. Does anyone here know if this is the usual visa discretion? (i.e., a vast majority go through) Or is it something stricter, where they expect GC holders to apply for DATVs in the normal case? Any advice, or shared experiences here would be appreciated. Thanks. - Sen
  8. FYI: It openned on the 4th of Oct and will stay open until the 3rd of Dec.
  9. sen

    PERM, wait and travel

    > 180 days and counting... Sen, yes I remember the 3 to 6 weeks pitch, but then I also want to remind you that some people used to wait 18 to 24 months for labor certification in the past. Even the 120 days waiting period is a bargain, so hang in there, I am sure you will hear from them soon. <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
  10. sen

    Culture Shock

    Ironically, I think I experienced about 30 years of culture shock living in SA, before I came to the US. Over here, I managed to get past the "You're welcome"s and the "How are you doing?"<and then walking off without waiting for an answer> quite easily. So far so good. Just missing my family (and decent medical coverage, but that's another issue). - Sen
  11. Good luck. They have been sitting with my PERM for 4 months now, and no word. I do know many people who have received labour certification through PERM - all succesful - I have never heard of a problem so far. - Sen
  12. We have found it to be worse than this. You cannot see a specialist, unless a doctor recommends it, and you are not free to see whichever doctors you want. You HAVE to see Kaiser doctors, and they share info between each other - so if you think that you can get a second opinion, then sure... but it almost certainly will be the same as the first. In our experience, we have found allergy specialists who have refused to give us basic allergy tests (such as the RAST test), since they have never heard of it (???). We have tried two gatro-intestinal specialists, one does not "believe" in HIDA scans, or all those "fancy" academic tests like BRAVO, which are safe convenient tools, that are pretty much standard elsewhere. The other specialist, just told my wife to take vicodin (prescription pain killers) and go home (this is addictive and is also detrimental to ones liver). ALL the doctors told my wife to take Prozac, because the pain was in her head, until eventually *I* made another doctor (we had to go the "afterhours" clinic to get another doctor) to organize my wife a HIDA scan (much to her disagreement - I made it clear that it was the only way, she would get me out of her office). After another month, they did the scan, and ... ooohh.. The pain was not in her head (the GI prescribed "stress management"), it was actually due to a dysfunctional gall bladder, which she then had to have removed. Anyway, this all took a year, because once you get a doctor to recommend a visit to a specialist, it takes the specialist's office a MONTH to phone you for an appointment, and then another MONTH to perform the suggested tests. We went to emergency FOUR times, to try get treatment - they took our emergency payments of course, but everytime they just sent her home with vicodin, once they realized that her heart was not about to give up. There may well be worse doctors in the bay area, but at least with a non-HMO: - you have the choice to leave your doctor and see another - to see a specialist when you want to - your doctors do not stand with one foot out the door, because your 5 minute slot is up. - your doctors are most likely not the bottom of the barrel - your doctors don't back each other up, you actually get an independent opinion (our "2nd opnion" actually gave us her diagnosis before speaking to my wife AT ALL) - your doctors are not working for your INSURANCE COMPANY, so they are not obligated to minimize costs at the cost of your LIFE. Incidentally, this is all assuming you GET to see a doctor. You first have to prove that you are "dying" (well... just about) in order to get past one of those nurses, who believe that they can fix anything a doctor can. That's right. If you want to see a specialist, you have to phone in, where they will give you a nurse to talk to. The nurse will make an appointment with another nurse. When you see this nurse (and if you can convince her/him you need to see a doctor), s/he will then organize an appointment with a doctor, who then (if you can convince her/him that you need to see a specialist) will organize an appointment with the specialist, who you might get to see within a month or two after this. Then when you see the specialist, unless your symptoms are absolutely basic to diagnose, they will run some tests, and unless the technician "spots a stone" or "lump" or such, you will never hear from them again! Because, then surely you must be fine. Anyway, you can diagnose yourself all you want, because they sure as H won't do anything of the sort. However, for the most part they get highly offended by this. How could you, a pathetic layperson possibly know more than them? How could you, after spending 5000x more time on your issue than them, possibly come to a diagnosis indeed? Incidentally, the third time I went to see my doctor, she says "Hi.. Nice to meet you, my name is Dr. XYZ, and I will be your doctor." (and sticks out her hand to shake mine). She didn't even read my file long enough, to work out that she had seen me twice before. Urgh.. If your company offers Kaiser, go for the other (or private insurance)... unless of course you're sure you won't be getting sick... ever. Anyway, I don't want to sit here an bitch about Kaiser. Just one word of advice, if you see them RUN!!! FAR FAR AWAY! I would take ANY Cape Town hospital over them. If you're homesick for Ruwanda or Sudan, then go to Kaiser - it's the third world inside the 1st world. - Sen
  13. Hi Martin, I have been living in Silicon Valley for a little over a year now. I'm from CT originally. Shoot me any questions you may have about the area. Rentals are quite expensive. I rent a 2bed/2bath for $1515 (you can usually get a month free as a move in bonus - but never again!) in a nice complex with a pool, gym, etc. Single bedroom places like this (in a gated community) are about $1250 or so. You could rent a 1bed private apartment for around $900-1100 or so, but this would be small and without any amenities. There aren't really "bad areas" here, but it is nice to live near places where things happen. There are some areas between Silicon Valley and San Francisco that are nice, if you want a shorter commute. The car prices are great. The same car in SA would cost you about twice as much (doing the R/$ conversion). You can get a bottom of the range new BMW or Merc for just under $30000, or an american car for much less - a PT Cruiser is about $15000 here. The cheapest car seems to be the Chevy Cavalier, which is about $10000. A good Japanese car (e.g., a Honda Accord) is about $19000 (more, for more options, less for a Honda Civic, but you get the general idea). Beware that these prices do not include taxes, shipping fees, extended warranties, etc, etc. Perhaps 10% to 20% more, depending on what you need or want. Check out www.kbb.com for more info. My company handled pretty much all of my moving. It was quite easy I would say. My wife and I did have to get our drivers licenses over here again (written and in-car tests). Things are quite expensive here though, food is quite expensive - not too bad though. Eating out is ok (about 2x SA rates). If you're vegetarian this place is unbelievable though (70 veg only restaurants in the area). I have to pay about $6000 dollars in dentist bills for my wife and myself (after insurance). Apparently, my root canals were all done badly, and my badly fitted crowns have caused cavitys - urgh. BIG WARNING. Your company will probably give you an option of some medicals. STAY AWAY FROM KAISER PERMANANTE. See www.kaiserpapers.org for more info. The doctors there make a sangoma look like the ultimate in medical care. We signed up, since it was presented to us as being really "covenient" by an HR department that was obligated not to give an actual opinion. This was the biggest mistake of our lives - if you are not sick, they will MAKE you sick and you CANNOT LEAVE. Fortunately we will be changing soon. What is your family situation like? Wife, kids? I can comment more. Housing prices are absolutely insane. A little house that would cost you R700k in SA (cape town), would cost you about $1m over here. See http://www.mlslistings.com/ for details. Also, be careful of your salary. What they may offer you here, may sound like a fortune, but in comparison to SA or even the rest of the US, it really may not take you nearly as far as expect. If you are anonymous (apart from "Martin"), it may be beneficial to post your industry and salary, and have the people here comment on it. On the whole though, I do enjoy living here. I got to San Francisco one or twice a month, I go down to Carmel, Montery and Santa Cruz (all really nice beaches and scenery and all). The people in this area are really friendly, and we have made a lot of good friends over here in the last year. Skiing is very popular here (lake Taho), and there is always something to do. Personally, I really like seeing the live bands I always wanted to see. Regards, - Sen
  14. sen

    PERM, wait and travel

    So, nearly four months later, and still no news - well not quite. Apparently, some people where I work have been through PERM successfully. The processing time was hitting 90 days to 120 days, (this was 2 weeks ago), where no one had taken longer than 120 days. It does seem as though the wait time is increasing quite steadily though (apparently the first few applicants took less than 2 weeks!!!). I will keep you all posted - I am hoping for some good news in the next 2 to 3 weeks. Hmm.. I had to wait 9 months to apply for PERM, now I'm nearly 4 months into the PERM application - does anyone recall the "3 to 6 weeks" pitch? Doh! - Sen
  15. sen

    PERM, wait and travel

    So my PERM application first went through HR and a bunch of lawyers. I was informed that it was actually only submitted on the 26th of June. I am still waiting to hear anything. It is now over 2 months - not that I really ever considered the 6 week estimate to be realistic. ;-)
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