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  2. Kallas

    DV-2019

    Ok thanks, was hoping it didn’t come to that. I see there is an SSA office in Hilo so I’ll have to go as soon as I arrive. Not quite sure where my new company will pay my first week’s salary into...
  3. SJ272

    DV-2019

    [at]Kallas, it sounds like something has gone wrong (happens occasionally) and you will need to go into a SSA office to get yourself on the system. Take your passport with the immigrant visa with you.
  4. Hey Janneman...I’d been wondering what had happened to you! Sorry to hear about health issues, hope you have smoother sailing from now on. Congratulations on the citizenship!
  5. Congratulations, Janneman - 14 years is a long time to wait for that blue passport, but you got there! Personally, I don't think there is a right/wrong decision about dual citizenship - it is all about personal circumstances, plans, and quite honestly down to personal choice. I can see why people do, and why people don't. As for myself, I kept it - it wasn't actually too much hassle to renew the passport through the LA consulate - lots of paperwork and a bit of a wait, but all ok. I like having different options. Yes, as a South African citizen in SA, it does limit what the USA embassy can do for you (it doesn't mean that they can do nothing). Even on a USA passport, as purely a USA citizen, it is limited what they can actually do for you - e.g. evacuation (which is not a likely scenario in SA - and quite honestly very rarely actually offered by the USA even in countries where there are wars going on), or being a victim of crime in SA (a much more likely scenario) - they can help you with a new passport, temporary financial assistance (you pay it back), contacting family etc. Enjoy your new citizenship and all that comes with it - next month, we vote!
  6. Hallo Folks, I've been MIA for a long while now due to health issues... but I'm still here! 😀 The big news is that we have become citizens at last - 14 years after our arrival on H1B and H4 visas. It took 9 years (2 years shorter than expected) to obtain permanent residency, and of course, it took another 5 years before we could apply for citizenship. We did not go the dual-citizen route, because when visiting South Africa, one is required by (South African) law to enter on your SA passport. That means that you are a bona fide South African citizen for the duration of your stay and if anything happens to you, the American embassy cannot help you. One can actually be pressed into military service if needed. So, after all these years, immigration is finally done and dusted. 😀
  7. oscar

    DV-2019

    Ours took just over four weeks to arrive which was in 2005. I believe they are much quicker now. The Green cards took about 6 weeks. This was around Thanksgiving time. So we only initially stayed in the US for a week and then went back to SA for three months. For newer folks, the process is a bit quicker. I know as someone used our address and their SSN Cards arrived within a week of their arrival.
  8. Kallas

    DV-2019

    Hi all. I’m not sure if this question’s been asked before - how long, after first arriving in the USA and “activating” one’s immigrant visa, does it take for the SSN to arrive? Reason I ask is that I read on the “welcome letter” that it shouldn’t take longer than three weeks, however, I called the SSN office and I’m not on the system yet (it’s been just over three weeks). I was hoping to start to build a credit record by applying for a credit card, but it seems the bank needs the SSN for the application...
  9. Last week
  10. Just in! Trump's plan to enforce health insurance has been blocked by the courts for now. The ruling was by a New York Judge but it applies countrywide.
  11. Good luck [at]Woekes! Been a long wait for you, hope it goes quick from here. We won DV2013, and would still have another year or so to go if we had still been waiting for our F3...
  12. Good luck to everyone entering. May your dreams come true and your applications be successful. After entering the Visa lottery 11 times and never winning the lottery, I am not entering this year as my F3 application is nearing the Interview stage - YEAHHH!!
  13. Earlier
  14. If you’re ex SADF, especially if you were on the border, and have applied for citizenship..I have a friend with a couple of questions about how to answer some of the n400 items. Please let me know if I can PM you? Thanks
  15. Do it! Do it ALL!!! So glad to hear about your adventures. We’re just finishing up our first trip to Mexico! Met soooo many Canadians down here, that now we just HAVE to head north and visit some old friends and new friends on the other side of the other wall! Maybe on our way up to visit Alaska. Still plenty of places to go in between the northern and southern borders, but that blue passport needs some more stamps!
  16. The upload is working well. My remaining family in SA got new photographs taken today and have successfully uploaded their information and received the confirmation email from the Department of state. It took them a while to find their passports as they had them hidden away somewhere in the house and took a few hours to find. Good luck everyone!
  17. Today seemed so far away, and yet, in the blink of an eye, we have arrived. Five years ago, two people stepped off an airplane and into one of their biggest adventures yet. It all started on that day we landed in Philadelphia, and got our Diversity Visa stamped, marking our official Resident status. That first week was our first LSD trip, and it was WILD! We relayed from Philadelphia on to Raleigh-Durham, and spent a couple of days exploring the Research Triangle Park. Well, more like exploring FOR the Research Triangle Park! Couldn't find it. Completely hidden from view! Along the way we established a US address in a postbox, applied for the All Important Social Security Number, opened a bank account, learned all about The Hurdle Known As Credit Score, looked at a couple of apartments to rent, and tried to work out where in the world we are. From Raleigh-Durham, we traveled a few hours westward to Charlotte, and immediately thought it was way cooler than R-D was! Spent another couple of days doing job interview(s), looking for places to live, and of course, most important of all, explored Carowinds! One week went by in a blur, and before we knew it, we were on our way back to SA, but we have managed to establish a presence in the US, and our Green Cards would be in our hands really soon! About one month later, I departed SA for a permanent move to the USA. My husband stayed on in SA for a few more weeks to tie things up, while I pioneered westward to set up our new lives in the USA. Thankfully we have some dear friends in the US willing to lend a helping hand, and we will forever be grateful for their assistance with a number of things that needed to be done. It really would be a lot harder to do this without someone who can point you in the right direction, or who is at a known location to receive notices and provide a base from where to operate. We were fortunate to secure an apartment before my arrival, so that was a huge relief. We also opted for Immigration Lite, which saw me fly in with two suitcases and a couple of dollars in my pocket. And then I had to buy what I needed: bed, bedding, toiletries, kettle, internet, TV, car, ... Another week of bouncing here and there and everywhere, falling in love with IKEA, falling out of love with self-assembling furniture, hating internet setups, loving how easy things work in the USA, hating credit scores, loving the people who are ever helpful, hating winters, loving the ability to walk to work, loving the view from the apartment, loving the endless possibilities here in the USA... At the end of the year, husband left SA, and we re-united to start settling in. The first year was quite a flurry of activity, and elsewhere on the forum is a post about all those adventures and the "honeymoon phase". I'll summarize some of it again here for completeness of this report. We had to visit Walt Disney World asap of course, and took a road-trip, one of many more to come, down to Florida from North Carolina. Husband managed to find and start a job within about a month of arriving and looking for work. We relocated a couple hundred miles eastward for said job. We visited many places, including trips to Boston and New York, both of which was amazing and exciting. We attended several sporting events, including a baseball game, several PGA Tour events, and a cricket match. We joined a golf club and made a few friends at the club. We discovered Greenways and explored for days on foot and on bicycles. We eventually worked up the courage to go for drivers licenses and found we passed it with ease, and regretted not getting it done sooner. We grew tired of paying a fortune to eat grilled steaks at the restaurants, and bought a braai and started grilling regularly at home. We increased in size. We learned to drink American Wine, but we love to find South African Wine in the USA. We learned to drink craft beer, and now we have become beer snobs. We discovered that there are many bugs in the USA. Oh so many bugs. Terrible bugs. They ruin summer, unless you buy all kinds of bug repellents, which works with varying degrees of success. We made peace with the fact that in the USA, homes do not have lighting in living spaces, you must bring the standing lamps. And plugs do not have switches, you just have to hope you do not touch anything live while working electrical cords. But all in all, we discovered that even though we miss our friends and family back in South Africa very very much, they are never too far away thanks to modern marvels like Skype and Facebook, and WhatsApp. The next couple of years saw many changes for us. We did another LSD trip down to Florida, and shortly after relocated there. We saw many job changes between the two of us. We bought more cars and we bought a town-home. We sold our house in South Africa and our things we loved so much. We bought many, many more things from Amazon. So many things. We found that the USA is like a collection of "countries" and what you get and do in one state, is not necessarily the way of the world in another state, even though it is all USA. We miss our South African favourite foods and stores, and now we miss our North Carolina favorite stores. But we learned to embrace the Walmart, and the Publix, and the local South African Goods traders. We found out there are many South Africans here in the USA, and you can kick one from behind just about any bush in the region. We love the festivals and the chance to Gooi Die Taal, and enjoy boerewors rolls, pies, and skaapbraai, and we still have to get to one of the Potjie festivals. We still have to learn what the deal is with American Football, but we enjoy going to or watching the games, even though it takes FOREVER. We have been to the beach, and it was busy and beachy and fun, and we should do it more. We discovered the weather. It is violent and wild, and miserable, but it passes by quick. We were thrilled to learn about "screened whatevers", which are bug-free and pleasant and soothes our African need to spend time outdoors with our braai and our wine and our pets. We have seen the National Mall and it was impressive. We have been to the Outer Banks and it was incredible. We learned about the Wright Brothers doing their test flights out there and realized that we know history, but we don't always know where that history happened. We visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and by accident learned about the First Colony and early US history. We went to see Dollywood and was amazed to find Pigeon Forge in the middle of nowhere being all touristy and surprisingly busy. We learned about "roadside attractions" and were skeptical and still have to venture on one of those. We discovered the Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Trail along the way and must go back to see more someday. We went to see a live volcano out in Hawaii. On bike. We went to St Pete Beach in Florida, and discovered Pass-A-Grille Beach and the fascinating story. We stopped to see some friends out at Melbourne, and they pointed us to Gator Tail and Frogs Legs at the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp on the way back. Who knew? So good. We visited Myrtle Beach and got inspired and changed careers for a while. Endless opportunities for the taking. We camped out INSIDE a theme park, underneath the roller coasters. What a night! Endless fun! We played golf on so many of the famous courses, and more to look forward to. We have been to ice hockey, and even took a shot at goal, and did not land on our ass while at it. We have been to South Africa, we love to visit there and kuier with friends and family, but we love coming home at the end of the trip. And today we have been at this for a whole five years already. How time flies! We have recently put in our application for citizenship, so next year will be filled with more exciting events. While we enjoy our visits to South Africa, we wish for all of our friends and family to come and visit us here in our new home. There are many more things we look forward to as we continue our adventure. We must go and see the National Parks. Many of them. We must go ski, and we must go see the Rockies in the summertime. We must go see Chicago. And the North in the summer, that everyone raves endlessly on about. We have to visit Cedar Fair, of course. We must go see Texas, where rumour has it there is an unusually large gathering of South Africans. We must go see the Grand Canyon. We must go see Canada, or parts of Canada. We must go taste bourbon in Tennessee and/or Kentucky. We must go see the wine country in California. We must go visit Key West, and dive the reefs out there. We want to go cruising again, to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, everywhere! So many more places to go and so many more experiences waiting. We'll see y'all out there!
  18. Good luck everyone. Remember there is a new rule, a valid passport held by the principal applicant is now needed to enter.
  19. State Department Web site for the 2021 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2021) is now open. The entry submission period for DV-2021 is from 12:00PM EDT (GMT -4) on October 2, 2019 to 12:00PM EST (GMT -5) on November 5, 2019. The entry form will only be available for submission during this period and this period only. Here is the link : https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/
  20. It’s for immigrants. Among the people who are probably going to be most affected by this are diversity visa applicants, who generally don’t already have jobs and sponsors when they move, unless they already have a good few thousand dollars spare in savings. That said I have seen some threads about how citizens really game the Obamacare subsidies to get insurance for their parents that they are immigrating, and from my understanding that won’t be allowable as an avenue to prove insurance under this. From the horse’s mouth: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-protecting-healthcare-benefits-american-citizens/ The rah-rah blurb takes up most of it but the important bit is this part: Immigrant visa applicants will have to demonstrate that they will be covered by health insurance within thirty days of entering the country or have the financial resources to pay for medical costs. Applicants will be required to meet these requirements before being issued an immigrant visa. A number of exceptions will be made, such as for children of American citizens.
  21. Interesting news on Health insurance, Trump issued a proclamation effective in 30 days' time that immigrants will not be granted future visas leading to resident green cards issued if they cannot obtain health insurance. it's not clear if this is just for H1B visas or for all immigrants. Here is a link to the news item: https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/immigrant-visas-health-insurance-health-care-costs-030252647.html
  22. Finally! So excited for you! It really is such an awesome experience and wonderful milestone on this insane journey we on this forum have chosen to take.
  23. Ah, yes, the Paramount. They had all of those doing the naturalization ceremony sit downstairs - and I was directed to a specific seat (this made sense later - as after the oath, they brought the naturalization certificates to the row you were in, and we each received ours there - so they knew who was sitting where) - i.e. you couldn't choose your seat. Guests were seated upstairs on the balcony, so you couldn't see them, nor they you, really, unless they were near the front etc, but you could join up afterwards. You will know about any other South Africans, as they start reading out the represented countries alphabetically, and you stand when your country is called, although you remain standing, so it is also hard to see who stands at the same time as you. Once all the countries are standing, you take the oath, and then all sit down again as Americans. They had quite an entertainment program with a band on stage playing 'This land is your land', the National Anthem etc. All in all, it was over in about 40 mins or so. Be prepared for the throng of vendors outside, selling special folders for your certificate, passport covers, even people to take your photo for your passport etc. Enjoy!
  24. ^ yes, the info notice we were given about the ceremony says up to 1350 people are sworn in per ceremony! Plus the guests. It’s a lot. I’ve been to the paramount a few times for other things, what a gorgeous venue for the ceremony. Can’t wait!
  25. Very exciting SJ272 - you are very close now. I did my ceremony in the Bay Area - and it was huge - over 800 people there, but a very nicely done ceremony. Yes, there were passport people there - and there was a part of the ceremony where they asked those who were applying for passports to make an oath en masse - so it was a simple question of handing in the form afterwards. I don't remember the voter registration, but they could well have been there - it was very crowded - 1000's of people with those natuarlizing and their guests etc. Also go to the Social Security office soon after to change your status to citizen - they do remind you to do that. It is a very nice feeling to have that certificate in hand, and even nicer to receive your USA passport! Enjoy.
  26. Phew... so exactly a year to the day after I filed my N400 online, I have been informed I am inline to be scheduled for an oath... I had my interview on Friday. Almost smooth, except that I was questioned quite a bit about the ties I maintained to the US during my lengthy absence in the first year, even though I kept my trips to below 6 months. I know others have reported no issue with this situation. I partly think it was a new-ish interviewer wanting to ensure all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed, but it was somewhat stressful. She asked about home, job, family etc... all we had really to show for it was that we filed taxes and had bank accounts, but that was enough, evidently. So now I wait for the one last step. They gave me a passport application at the interview and said it can be completed (but not signed) in advance, then signed and handed in after the ceremony. I believe there are normally volunteers outside the ceremonies here that help you register to vote, too. Very excited about these two things!
  27. As has been said, the job market right now is fairly hot & good for job seekers. Naturally that can vary by city & State but in general job seekers do have the upper hand with more jobs than job seekers in many cases. That being said there is talk of a looming economic "slowdown" happening in the next 12 to 18 months or so the experts would have you believe so best to act soon before that advantage goes away.
  28. SJ272

    DV-2019

    Fabulous! How exciting!
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