Jump to content


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/23/2011 in Posts

  1. 7 points
    This weekend I received a letter in the mail that I only dreamed of receiving as a young girl growing up in PTA. I have my interview scheduled for my citizenship , 30 days and counting! I wanted to post something on this forum as this as been my go to for reading up and finding out information, for being a "friend" when times go tough and allowing me to know I was not alone. Also for the vulnerability that you all have shared on these forums that allowed me to learn from but also not be to hard on myself. Thank you to everyone! So five years later what has happened? I have moved 5 times to 5 new cities, got divorced & got engaged . Managed to find a job that was below my experience level in a great company and subsequently accelerated fast through the ranks. Have built a solid credit record, something I still think is bs I got cable and got rid of cable and now live off of apps and live streaming. I have embraced my american colleagues and friends and have learned that I was as biased towards them as I perceived them to be towards me. I have cried many a time, screamed and felt despair and loneliness but now I get to the point in my life that I can start to think about bringing my family across and hopefully help open some doors for them. I am extremely grateful and I know very fortunate for the last 5 years. Here is to the rest of my american journey with the new passport and finally travelling without having to submit 3 months worth of bank statements! Also if anyone needs any support, let me know, will love to pay it forward! Meg
  2. 7 points
    I can say with confidence, that almost all of us that have been through the DV process felt he same limbo you are feeling. The eleven months between when we found out that we had won and the day of our interview the following June was easily the longest eleven months of our life! The uncertainty, the waiting, the early prep, the waiting, the research, the waiting, the panicking, the waiting, watching that Visa Bulletin sloooooowly creep towards our number, the waiting, the agonizing, the waiting, more uncertainty, more waiting... it was enough to drive me insane! We put nearly everything on hold. We were reluctant to commit to anything or renew any 24 month contracts (like Vodacom etc). We stopped buying and replacing things that we may have had to sell later. And becuase we didn't know 100% that we'd even get the Visa in the end, for any one of a number of reasons, we also didn't want to tell anyone or make too many life changing decisions just yet, so we still had to get up, go to work, pay the bills and get on with life like nothing was different, but in our minds EVERYTHING was already different! And when we eventually did get our Visas, everything changed and a whole new slew of challenges and worries set in. The panic, the rush, the panic, the endless questions, "What the hell are we doing?", "Where are going to live?", "Who will employ me?", "OMG! How much is this going to cost?", "Why are we even doing this?"... the panic, etc, etc. All perfectly natural, all perfectly reasonable and all perfectly survivable. Just remember to breathe and don't forget to get on with life and enjoy the time and activities in SA with your friends and family in the meanwhile. It can be and feel like a looooong process, but looking back, that was a good thing, becuase by the time we eventually packed up everything a walked out the door of our home for the last time (23 months after the day we found out we had won) we were physically, psychologically, and mentally as ready as we could ever hope to be for the next crazy stage of the journey. As for the immigration issue, like I said, Congress and the Presidency are deeply dysfunctional at the moment, so it is unlikely that any sweeping changes to immigration will happen overnight. Having said that, if we've learned anything from last year's election and the Trump effect, it is to never say never. Trump is desperate for a win right now (any win) and so are the Republicans who despite seven years of attempts, threats, rhetoric and promises, and despite holding the majority in the House, the Senate, and the Executive branch were dealt a humiliating defeat over the repeal and replacement of the ACA last month. Although, I suspect that right now Trump is more concerned with the ever looming investigation into his election campaign, potential obstruction of justice and dubious financial connections to Russia, and Congress are more concerned with keeping him from going to war with North Korea. So legal immigration reform is most likely the last thing on anyone's mind right now in Washington. In the meantime... Hold thumbs that you have a low DV number, get your docs and such in order, vasbyt and carry on :-)
  3. 5 points
    I cannot believe how quickly 2019 has passed by and the year is coming to a close. With the 2021 DV Lottery entrance applications complete, I wonder how many from our neck of the woods will be joining us in the USA. This may well be one of the last DV Lotteries. I want to share with you our progress to date. (After 8 years). This year has been good for us here in Hawaii. We have started on another building project on an adjacent piece of land we bought and the idea is to use the place as an Airbnb. Work wise, I still fly an ambulance around Hawaii and received a few work promotions this year. I've been in this job for 6 1/2 years. Annalise (my wife at 50) continues getting 4.0 GPA in the nursing program and finishes in May 2020. Its been a difficult 3 years for her, studying and running this household as a mother. Michael (24) has his BSc. In Aviation Management and is just finishing up his Commercial pilots license in Florida. He also works as an aircraft fueler to support himself and has been a Zipline guide for 4 years. Siobhan (22) has 2 degrees in English and Communication this year through University of Hawaii. Yesterday she went through MEPS medical selection process to join the US Coast Guard and is hoping for an Officer selection position. She has supported herself as a tour guide & ground crew with a helicopter company and as a Life Guard. Dylan (19) joined an exclusive Aviation Maintenance company in Everett Washington last week and plans on doing his Commercial pilots license while qualifying as an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic. He has learnt to weld and earned an income working as a Zipline guide. Jessica (16) continues at school but also works at a veterinary clinic 3 times a week to fund her pilots license. She has about 10 hours of flying time. Additionally she is a Sergeant in the Civil Air Patrol. (If you don't know what this is, google it & you need to get your teens enrolled) looking back to 2011 when our feet hit USA ground, I never in my wildest dreams thought that this family could achieve so much in so few years. America has opened doors and possibilities for my kids certainly not available in Africa. I write this so that you can see the abundance the USA has given us and be encouraged by it. Granted, like many of you, we went through the fire, but life has a way of showing you the path. Take it, you have nothing to lose. "Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it's the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill
  4. 4 points
    Hopefully we get a new President in January!
  5. 4 points
    I haven't frequented this forum much, I've been using a different one. But I finally got selected today. The website was surprisingly easier to access than other years. My case [previously wrote “confirmation”] number is 24xxx. It will be interesting to see how DV21 will look like during the pandemic, and the new orders. Good luck to everyone else.
  6. 4 points
    Seven years and one month ago, on a lazy Saturday (much like today), our life took a complete change of course when my wife and I logged in to the EDV page and saw that crazy notification letter that I had been selected for DV2012. This week we both had our Naturalization interviews and have been recommended for US Citizenship! What a long, crazy, and uncertain journey it has been. So much has changed since that sunny but wintery Saturday morning in Johannesburg. We have travelled lots. We have made many new and fabulous friends. We have three happy little doggies, one of which is our 13-year-old dachshund who has shared this entire incredible journey with us. We also have a tiny all American ‘threenager’ full of personality and sass, who, in all likelihood we may never have decided to bring into this world had we not had such good fortune and incredible luck all these years. One last step remains. One last “hurry up and wait”. With just a little more patience and perseverance, our Oath Ceremony notification letters should arrive in the coming weeks and we’ll be sworn in shortly thereafter. The finish line is soooo close now! Thanks to all here who have shared this long journey with us, and thanks for the help, advice, and words of encouragement these last seven years! Jason.
  7. 3 points
    I know that this isn't a political forum, but that's a really obtuse thing to say. Partisan opinions aside, but the current US president is nothing short of Jacob Zuma. They're both accidents that should have never happened.
  8. 3 points
    You live in a very blue state, so your vote wont make a difference. If you don't like the change you can always consider moving back to Orania
  9. 3 points
    As a South African (from Slaapstad) visiting NYC, I thought that he would have found the uninterrupted water and electricity supply the most bizarre part of the experience 😏 Having said that, I also expected that a journalist working for “Business Insider”, of all publications, would at least know that the US (the world’s largest economy) doesn’t use VAT! I guess not. He’s lucky he only stayed in NYC with its public transport. Pumping his own gas and filling his own tires with air would have totally baked his noodle!
  10. 3 points
    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!
  11. 3 points
    Thanks [at]SJ272. I am here for good, but going back December or January to sort things out. This place is unbelievably beautiful. Took the bus the wrong (clockwise) way around the island, and so glad i did, wow the mountains!!! Tip: You can get a mobile sim line to get you sorted with data and communication very easily. What I did was go to AT&T, bought a Prepaid line, i got the unlimited with hotspot $80, then you pay $80 in the store, they give you a sim, and that’s it. You then have to put a card for payments on your account online within three days. I keep my SA phone on roaming for now, and then went to Apple store and just bought a new phone. Easy peasy. Still waiting for my social security card, to open a bank account.
  12. 3 points
    Congrats, FranetteM! So exciting! I remember leaving the US Consulate after our successful interview and high fiving my wife under the US flag on a sunny Jozi afternoon like it was yesterday. It was sooooo crazy and surreal. An entire ocean of uncertainty lay ahead of us and now we are citizens with a 4-year-old girl and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Good luck and enjoy the ride!
  13. 3 points
    Hi everybody, got our passports back today. It's really happening! 🤠 [at]Heidi556 are you also clearing customs at JFK, or do you have a direct flight to Hawaii? Thank you to everybody here that shared their knowledge - without you we would definitely not have made it to the interview, as we would not have known the process has changed for submitting of forms! Also, the information regarding pets and pitbulls have really helped a lot. Everything you've shared really - thanks so much. Is anyone here familiar with Pennsylvania? Do you know of any Saffas there?
  14. 3 points
    I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but I have literally, just this week, finalized my Financial Emigration through FinGlobal and I couldn't be more happy with the results! From start to finish their service has been absolutely top notch. Took about 5 months for my specific situation. It can get a bit pricy if you have lots of policies and assets to cash out, but it’s probably a mere fraction of the cost of flying back to SA and spending weeks to months sorting out the mess and jumping through the ridiculous hoops necessary to get the process moving along. I caught a really lucky break and got my payout and Forex transfer right when the Rand hit its recent high, which effectively paid for itself, as I was going by a much higher exchange rate back when I started out If your financial situation is super simple, you bank with someone who is able to process your MP336(b) without you physically walking into a branch, and you use SARSefiling, then you may be able to do it yourself. But there are a lot of regulations, moving parts and a very specific order that needs to be followed. The process also takes quite a while, even with pros doing most of the heavy lifting. One screw up or delay and you could be set back weeks... probably months.
  15. 3 points
    My wife and I went for the DV interview at the JHB consulate in February. At the first window, we were asked repeatedly whether we have a sponsor (we don't). We'd provided evidence of our financials though, and it didn't come up again. I think you can either provide proof of your own financial position, or you need to have an affidavit of support from a sponsor. At the second window, the officer asked my wife only two questions, and then said we were approved. We're going on a trip to activate next this month, where we're taking a 2 week trip to various cities we're interested in.
  16. 3 points
    If you are like us with no one in the US, I understand 100%, Without the advice from the people on this forum I would not have made it. The journey is lonely. We were only telling the absolute "must know" people, so I get that. We are doing better by the day. Hubby been working for over 2 months now and I have just started. Exciting times and loving every minute.
  17. 3 points
    As [at]RubyShoes said in an earlier post... I was out of the US for two 5 month periods. I simply applied, told the truth, and left it up to them to either approve or reject my application- it was approved. My research at the time showed that (according to the courts) the time before you lived here doesn't count towards the continuous residency period, but I guess they aren't very strict with the application thereof. My recommendation would be to file an application now.
  18. 3 points
    Hi Dreamland. How are the nerves, insomnia and numbers going? FYI, 3 months in and I managed to open my first account today. Super excited as credit score is therefore on the rise. Health and life insurances sorted. Telkom finally sorted (it takes 5 months in total to get their zero balance invoice). As everyone will have mentioned, SABC TV License is impossible to cancel. Start now if you can. It seems Vodacom is cancelling as they should. We have 3 more numbers to cancel, just be aware of when your contracts expire. Other that that, still the best decision. We are truly happy. All the best to you and yours.
  19. 3 points
    And now 8 days 10 hours... I have been trying not to think about it, because then it REALLY drags. Rather work towards payday tomorrow, that is closer! For those who don't know, the results are 2 May 12PM EDT (= 6pm for S.A)
  20. 2 points
    It is that time of the year again !!! This has been my 8th attempt .... wish me luck
  21. 2 points
    Excellent! Holding thumbs for ya! We got our second shots two weeks ago today, so feeling a huge sense of relief that, at the very least, we shouldn’t die or end up in the ICU. So there is that.
  22. 2 points
    So the Covid-19 vaccinations are moving along! We registered today in Group 1C due to Diabetes. Hopefully we get our shots in the next few weeks.😃
  23. 2 points
    Finally Delivered 😀 The small envelope of cards was delivered to my family's residence by the post office this morning at 12:30 . They had to pay a charge of ZAR 58.00 charge for parcels from overseas. - Standard charge it took 25 Days to arrive, but at least they have it.📭 The package had been opened and sealed in two different places during its journey. I assume Johannesburg and Cape Town. Nothing missing
  24. 2 points
    True that! If the passport requirement was in effect during the lottery’s inception, I think we’d have more people getting selected sooner. I just wish SA’s numbers lingered around the 1000’s like before.😞 I miss reading about people’s journeys. It added hope in this forum.
  25. 2 points
    Yes, good luck! I think they may have improved more than marginally, as I think a lot of African entries before were from “agents” entering people without their knowledge. They won’t be able to do that any more. Ghana was a big “culprit” there and entries from Ghana dropped from 1.9m for DV2020 to under 300k (!!!] for DV2021, almost certainly as a result of that. Smaller but still significant drops in some other countries. Overall African entries dropped from 8.1m to 3.1m! The overall % of total DV entries picked from Africa will not change so that must raise the odds of those left with valid entries quite a bit vs what it would have been before, although of course the overall chance of getting picked is still very small.
  26. 2 points
    Looks like when Delta retires its Boeing 777, it won't have an aircraft that can reliably make the return trip from Johannesburg, so they will fly TO Johannesburg, then to Cape Town, and the return trip to the USA will be from Cape Town. Cape Town - Lower altitude - means they can take off with more fuel. Nice option to fly from USA to Europe, then direct Europe to Cape Town on one of tDelta's Skyteam partners - e.g. Air France, KLM, and return direct from CPT on Delta. https://liveandletsfly.com/delta-triangle-route/?utm_source=BoardingArea&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR0zKJ2rJvi04debDicVrUx_0SUNQLdPFSlTQCyPd2dOCW_cleVGMQdO4bs
  27. 2 points
    I’m not intolerant of people with different views. I am intolerant of people who are intolerant of people who are different. I don’t like Trump or his policies. You clearly do. That’s perfectly fine. We can talk like adults all day long about the appropriate course of action surrounding the immigration process during Covid-19 lockdowns, shutdowns, slowdowns, and social isolation. Stephen Miller, however, the subject at hand, is a racist xenophobe who hates immigrants. This is a fact. Not an opinion. It goes way beyond this latest Executive Order. Every action suggested or taken by this odious man is openly filtered through his well documented deep set prejudices, intolerance of immigrants, and other races. Most notably the Hispanic population, which he has openly and publicly vilified since his junior year at Santa Monica High School. If you want to defend his personal and public intolerances as being ‘patriotic’ or agree with his well documented prejudices, you are more than welcome to do so. If this makes me a “cry-baby Trump-hater” then bar is set so low, I’m not entirely sure who is capable of stooping low enough to pass that particular litmus test.
  28. 2 points
    (I posted under DV Lottery as well so ignore if you have already read this) I cannot believe how quickly 2019 has passed by and the year is coming to a close. With the 2021 DV Lottery entrance applications complete, I wonder how many from our neck of the woods will be joining us in the USA. This may well be one of the last DV Lotteries. I want to share with you our progress to date. (After 8 years). This year has been good for us here in Hawaii. We have started on another building project on an adjacent piece of land we bought and the idea is to use the place as an Airbnb. Work wise, I still fly an ambulance around Hawaii and received a few work promotions this year. I've been in this job for 6 1/2 years. Annalise (my wife at 50) continues getting 4.0 GPA in the nursing program and finishes in May 2020. Its been a difficult 3 years for her, studying and running this household as a mother. Michael (24) has his BSc. In Aviation Management and is just finishing up his Commercial pilots license in Florida. He also works as an aircraft fueler to support himself and has been a Zipline guide for 4 years. Siobhan (22) has 2 degrees in English and Communication this year through University of Hawaii. Yesterday she went through MEPS medical selection process to join the US Coast Guard and is hoping for an Officer selection position. She has supported herself as a tour guide & ground crew with a helicopter company and as a Life Guard. Dylan (19) joined an exclusive Aviation Maintenance company in Everett Washington last week and plans on doing his Commercial pilots license while qualifying as an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic. He has learnt to weld and earned an income working as a Zipline guide. Jessica (16) continues at school but also works at a veterinary clinic 3 times a week to fund her pilots license. She has about 10 hours of flying time. Additionally she is a Sergeant in the Civil Air Patrol. (If you don't know what this is, google it & you need to get your teens enrolled) looking back to 2011 when our feet hit USA ground, I never in my wildest dreams thought that this family could achieve so much in so few years. America has opened doors and possibilities for my kids certainly not available in Africa. I write this so that you can see the abundance the USA has given us and be encouraged by it. Granted, like many of you, we went through the fire, but life has a way of showing you the path. Take it, you have nothing to lose. "Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it's the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill
  29. 2 points
    [at]FranetteM I was there just for an interview and to meet the company. Then I came back, resigned, and started with the big trek. The final move is on Sunday, very long flightS back to Hawaii. Mixed bag of emotions on this side I must say. [at]Heidi556 thanks, we'll probably only be in Honolulu for the layover which is short, but I'm sure we'll meet up sometime since those islands don't seem too massive. Glad to hear you're having a blast - I hope the rain has subsided since we last spoke.
  30. 2 points
    I just finished my entry at LAX, all good, normal foreign passport line, and it was quick, like 10 minutes. Kallas, I am in Honolulu tonight, and renting a car tomorrow, need to go buy some stuff, what are your plans? I started a stopwatch when I got in the car in SA, have now commuted 38 hours, only semi sleep on plane, and have another 5 hours to Honolulu 😜
  31. 2 points
    We sent our cat separately via KLM, because they have an “animal hotel” at schipohl where cats go into larger cages while their traveling crates are cleaned and dogs actually taken for a walk on a special lawn area. All klm staff handing animals go for training and annual refresher training at one of the Dutch vet schools. Not sure if Emirates does anything similar? A direct flight from SA is still very, very long of course. There is no doubt it’s a traumatic experience for the pets no matter which way it gets done, but that seems to get forgotten quickly thankfully.
  32. 2 points
    [at]Kallas Awesome, yes cheaper especially from LA. I will also be in Hilo in October and November. So Hilo is on the Big Island. And on the islands, generally the North Eastern side is the windward side, with more rain and lush, whereas the South Western parts can be drier (from what I see that is what Big Island and Oahu is like). The shore is just rocky, black volcanic rock, not sandy white. But Hilo sounds so cool. [at]FranetteM Yes, I’m packing in, flying on the 23rd of this month, very excited. I’m into diving, underwater photography, and all things ocean, so taking my diving gear, two spearguns, and a big Pelican case. Called the airline to let them know of these items and no problem, they give you a better rate if you book oversize or extra luggage before hand.
  33. 2 points
    I have found that people really enjoy a different accent - and in all of my work environments, there has been not just acceptance of it, but appreciation. Diversity is highly valued in most US workforces - companies have a big focus on it. I once presented to a group along with some of my colleauges (who famously gave me an English>American dictionary as a joke gift), and said something like 'nought to 100' instead of 'zero to 100' - and I saw my colleagues crack up. I later asked them whether I should focus on using the US lingo - and they all said 'NO' - they all understood what I meant, and it was refreshing to hear things differently. That said, I have changed much of my vocab (post has become mail, queue has become line, lift has become elevator and so on) just because that is what you hear all around. Subtle changes to accent too - as SJ272 says, with the 'Rs'. Don't however, try and cultivate an American accent - it will come off as phony - and is totally unnecessary.
  34. 2 points
    Thank you [at]oscar and [at]SJ272 for your valuable input. It gives me a lot to think about. So, regarding benefits - if my husband is employed with benefits, does it mean that I can latch onto that for medical (like in SA)? Yes, Oscar, I get your point regarding the accent. I didn't think of that before, but I can imagine how that may be a problem. I'm actually practicing my American English, also need to be aware of the different words that can make a huge difference, for example we went to Hershey Park with American friends and I was saying how long the "Q's" were and just got blank stares 😂 Only realised later that they talk about a "line" and not a "Q". Can't anticipate everything though, will have to learn as we go along. Regarding the tours - my idea is not to open a travel agency per se. Like SJS272 said - it's more about getting a group of people travelling together that doesn't want to bother with self drive. For example, I used to have clients from Canada that visited SA once a year and they would book my tour bus upfront for about a week. So I'll do all the driving. Airport transfers, daily excursions wherever they wanted to go, Dinner transfers, Tours, etc. Yes, they were wealthy, but what people don't realize, is that if you're a group and you split the costs, it is not so expensive per person and better to hire a bus with a driver than to rent 2 or 3 cars and then they have to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road as well. Also, the way it works is that the clients don't pay me any commission - I negotiate better rates with my network partners. The clients don't pay extra than what they would have if they have booked online. In many cases, I can actually reduce the cost for them and they get the benefit of having a tailor made tour. The 'challenge' here for me was that wealthy clients actually don't really care about the cost (especially if they earn $), and trying to convince people that they can actually save money doing it this way without it being a scam is really tricky to market.
  35. 2 points
    Update: Replied on the RFE from USCIS with a copy of the original marriage certificate and another copy of the marriage certificate, clearly explaining that all the needed information is listed since it is the long form even without the word “unabridged” Case was approved on July 3rd. Yay!!
  36. 2 points
    One thing that we hadn’t encountered in SA but saw a lot here, is the use of software as a first filter on job applications. Today on LinkedIn I saw this article that gives some tips around this, and thought it might be useful for those of you entering the job market here - https://www.linkedin.com/feed/news/how-to-defeat-resume-sorting-robots-4680164/
  37. 2 points
    It's been many years since I last posted on this site. Life in Hawaii has been good to us. Climate is perfect Year round. My oldest 2 kids are getting close to finishing university and the youngest son entered college and my youngest daughter is still in school. My wife, at 48, is doing her nursing degree. I'm still flying an ambulance. Life's good. To top it all, my wife and I attended our USA Citizenship ceremony on Tuesday. We are Americans. "Life, Liberty & the persuit of happiness"
  38. 2 points
    Here’s a KPMG article on it that describes it properly. https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2018/01/flash-alert-2018-020.html the main point to note is that it’s not blanket anyone who is a SA citizen and hasn’t financially emigrated as is implied by the one newspaper article - see “who will be affected” below. The background indicates that this is indeed part of the push to get tax from those people who are working in Dubai etc and not paying any tax in SA because of the physical presence exemption but who don’t have tax residence anywhere else either. Another article I read that wasn’t as detailed said that if you have tax residence elsewhere (home, family, assets, pay normal tax there etc) this doesn’t affect you, it is aimed at SA tax residents abroad on employment contracts. Who Will Be Affected? The new cap will mainly affect South African tax residents working abroad; either as self-sponsored individuals who take a job opportunity in a foreign jurisdiction, or as employer-sponsored assignees that may or may not be tax protected/equalised. Background South African tax residents are taxed on their worldwide income through the residence-based system. While DTTs exist to prevent double taxation under certain circumstances, a specific provision in the South African tax legislation provides a pre-emptive exemption, i.e., an exemption that statutorily limits South Africa’s taxing rights based on a set of criteria. Many South African tax residents work abroad for a period during their working lives. Section 10(1)(o)(ii) of the Income Tax Act, No. 58 of 1962 (ITA) exempts employment income received by a South African tax resident during any year of assessment for services rendered outside South Africa for or on behalf of any employer, if that individual was outside South Africa for: a period or periods exceeding 183 full days in aggregateduring any 12-month period, and a continuous period exceeding 60 full days during that 12-month period. The exemption is only available to employees of private-sector companies. According to National Treasury, the exemption of foreign employment income from the South African tax net appears excessively generous, particularly in instances where the individual worked in a foreign country with a low or zero personal income tax rate.
  39. 2 points
    Our certificates arrived back today, with a note that the children don’t need them because they automatically retain citizenship if they’re under 18. So just about 2 months from when we sent them in, probably would have been a couple of weeks faster if we hadn’t missed that we needed to send those affidavits plus copies of green cards in. By the way we had sent everything in one envelope with one money order and one return envelope, all worked out fine.
  40. 2 points
    Thanks, everyone! Quick update: Our notification letters came through the online portal at the end of last week, scheduling our Oath Ceremony before the end of the month! Which is incredible, considering even conservative estimates had the process taking us all the way up until the end of the year! No complaints from us! That’s for sure!
  41. 2 points
    As usual excellent advice from everyone. My two cents... 1. Change of address: Expect things like accommodation to be fluid for the first few weeks, months or even years after you arrive, you’ll more than likely move between rentals and accommodation before finally settling in to something more permanent. How ever that may, or may not, work out for you, be aware that non-us citizens MUST report any change of address (AR-11j to the USCIS within 10 days of moving. Thankfully, this can easily be done online. It’s a silly little thing that can easily be overlooked during the first crazy weeks and months, but has the potential to cause issues later down the line if/when you file for Naturalization and you have to note all the places you have lived within the last 5 years. 2. South African affairs: Sort out, cancel and tie up as much as you can before boarding your flight to the US. Be it closing bank accounts, cashing out policies, canceling cellphone contracts, terminating your SABC TV license, getting a SARS Tax Clearnce Certificate, or just making sure you have a small supply of notarized copies and duplicates of your Birth certificates, Marriage certificates, ID book/card, and even Passports. The number one rash for all of us living abroad is trying to deal with anyone or anything back in South Africa. Cancelling certain things can either go really smoothly, or be a living hell! Between the red tape, the bureaucracy, the difference in time zones, the pain and expense of phoning during SA business hours, and anything that involves the Dept of Home Affairs, you’ll be very glad you did as much as possible back in SA when you could.
  42. 2 points
    Excellent post with lots of good advice. A couple of additional comments: 1. Driver's license: Don't assume you can use your SA license for up to a year - even with an International Driver's permit (which is pretty useless in the USA, as it is just a translation of your license which is in English). Most states require you to have a license from that State (regardless of whether or not you have the license of another state or country) within a limited time period. That is 30 days for Florida: (the offical DMV website is different to the one posted- it is https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/visiting-florida-faqs/ You must get a Florida license within 30 days of becoming a resident. You are considered a resident of Florida if you: 1. Enroll your children in public school, or 2. Register to vote, or 3. File for a homestead exemption, or 4. Accept employment, or 5. Reside in Florida for more than six consecutive months. 2. Rentals: An excellent option is to rent an apartment. Unlike a condo, where you rent from an individual owner, apartments are often like luxury hotels - with swimming pools, gyms etc, and can contain 100's of studion, 1,2. or even 3 bedroom apartments that are all centrally owned and managed. Many are pet friendly too etc. See websites like www.apartments.com 3. Car Insurance: Usually cheaper to bill every 6 months (which seems to be the standard for the companies I have used), or 1 year, although monthly is an option too.
  43. 2 points
    Easier said than done. Best of luck with that.
  44. 2 points
    Of course you should apply!! Get that application in so that the clock can start ticking. Like others have said, even if (that's a huge if) legislation to cancel family immigration gets passed you should be fine as applications that are in the process are usually protected. In the meantime, enter the free-to-enter DV lottery every year (while it lasts) and, who knows, you might get lucky and be in the US sooner than you expect.
  45. 2 points
    I agree with SJ272 - if you do not get your foot in the door you might never get the open door. Our F3 priority date is Nov 2007 - we have been waiting for the last 11 years. It looks very roughly like 2 years wait for 1 year's progress forward. So I think it will be another 4-5 years before we get to the front of the line
  46. 2 points
    Good luck. The longest time of my life. We were selected in the second draw last year and yes, you put everything on hold. We are moving out of our house 26 Aug and off to the USA a few days later. Good luck and hoping you have a low number. Ours was 42000 so we were last on the list. The longest year of my life and after the consulate interview possibly the quickest 2 months followed. Total roller coaster ride. Enjoy the adventure.
  47. 2 points
    Hi there to all the lovely people on this forum. I have been reading it for a while, while waiting to be registered. I thought I will try and give a bit of background without divulging private information. Here is the deal: We moved to the US in 2000, got our GC's in 2005. I went to SA in 2009 on a visit. My passport expired the day after I arrived and I applied for my SA passport the next day in Rustenburg. The days of waiting for my SA passport, turned into weeks, turned into months (because of inept Homeland Affairs/the people who deal with SA passport applications). I eventually lost my GC status because I was out of the country for more than a year. I applied for a SB-1 visa (Returning Resident), which was denied because I "didn't meet the requirements". That was a horrible, short, interview, I didn't even get to state my case. So here I am. 8 years later, still trying to get back. I have different avenues to pursue this and one is the GC Lottery. Lots of luck to everyone who is going to check their status today! What I learnt: 1) As soon as you get your GC, or as soon as you are allowed to, apply for Advanced Parole and never travel without it. 2) Apply for USC as soon as possible. 3) Do not underestimate unforseen circumstances. Plans don't always work the way you think they're going to. On a positive note: I loved living in the US and moving back there will stay one of my priorities until I'm back.
  48. 2 points
    Good luck everyone! A few more hours to go, praying the best results for all!
  49. 2 points
    Oh my - just a few days to wait! I hope my kids get in! Good Luck to everyone who entered - but please can my babies win!
  50. 2 points
    Hey, peeps! My basic rule of thumb regarding electronics and appliances is as follows: Make the distinction between electronics and appliances. Electronics are generally gadgets… computers, laptops, tablets, TVs, phones, computer monitors, gaming consoles etc. (ie. high-tech stuff with microchips and/or processors). Appliances are mostly things like refrigerators, microwaves, fans, coffee machines, kettles, blenders, hairdryers, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, ovens, power tools etc. (ie. simpler items that require high wattages or either make things bright or hot via an electric element or that have and an electric motor of some sort.) The US uses 110V/60Hz while the EU/SA use 220V/50Hz (Thanks to Jannerman for the correction). Just look at the back of your electronic gadget, appliance or at the power brick/supply or charger. If you see something like "110V - 220V / 50 - 60Hz” or there about you're good to go in the US. You may have to change the plug or use one of those travel plug adapters, but it'll still work just fine in the US. The awesome thing with the US’s 110V is that if you happen to plug in your SA item that only uses 220V it won’t damage the item, it simply just won’t turn on or work properly. Where as if you were to plug your US device into a 220V SA wall socket and it wasn’t rated for 220V, you get snap, crackle, pop, bang, a lot of smoke and then it’s “So long and thanks for all the fish” for your device or power supply! Most houses you see advertised in the US with 220V outlets are usually only in the laundry and sometimes kitchen. These are specific power outlets to power your large appliances like Washers, Dryers, Lamps, Fridges and Ovens. They take a non-standard US plug anyway, so you wouldn't be plugging any other items into those 220V rated sockets either way. Make a list of your precious electronics and appliances and note its compatibility with the US. I made a long Excel spreadsheet with power ratings, power compatibility as well as Yes, No , Maybe columns :-) Adding in an estimated price is also worthwhile to get a better idea of replacement costs/losses. You’ll be amazed how quickly it all adds up! In further detail… Electronics (ie. laptops, phones, computers, TVs etc.): If it has a charger or power brick/supply of some sort it will more than likely work in the US without any problems at all, as those power supplies are generally made for the international market and usually have automatic power-switching capabilities. It’s good to check them all anyway, because there are still gadgets that don’t have switching power supplies. I still have a few odd things that required either a new power adapter/cable or a step-up transformer, but not that many. If it's an old device, though, and you are in the market for something newer you may as well not bother and just by it new on this side. Note 1: For desktop computers and most HiFis you'll need to manually switch the power supply to 110V. There's usually a little red sliding switch at the back of these things where the power cable runs into the device. So once you’re in the US and while it is still un-plugged (both VERY important!), just slide it over to 110V with a small screwdriver or pen and you'll be good to go. Note 2: Modern TVs are generally compatible in US. If you have a new-ish flatscreen Plasma, LCD, or LED TV it will more than likely run on 110V/60Hz power and will generally also accept the NTSC video signal used in the US. Although it is still best to double check your specific TV first, especially if it’s not a very popular global brand (eg. HiSense, Goldstar, Sinotech). Our Sony Bravia worked perfectly here in the US. The same goes for your DVD and Blu-ray players. In fact if you have a large DVD collection make very sure to bring your SA DVD player, as there are no guarantees that a DVD player bought in the US will play any of your DVDs due to the different region code used here. Blu-rays are less of a problem, although a couple of my Blu-rays (mostly from the UK) will not play on one of our US bought TVs, because even though my player will play them, the TVs itself does not recognize the PAL video only signal via HDMI. Note 3: Yes. Electronic items are “technically” cheaper in the US, if you were to replace them here. However, don’t be fooled by the initial prices you seen advertised. Firstly, they exclude sales taxes, which runs anywhere up to about ±10% over the marked price, and secondly, if you’re buying online you often need to factor in shipping or delivery costs, again anywhere from $3 - $50 depending on the store and value of the item. This adds up really quickly, especially if you’re replacing a whole bunch of gadgets! This can close any perceived price gap considerably in most cases. Note 4: Gamers can message me if you have any questions regarding your gaming consoles (PS2, PS3, Xbox360, Nintendos etc.) I have a ton of games and consoles and can answer most of your questions :-) Large and small appliances: Many of these are a no go for a few reasons. Most are specifically designed to work on 220V - 240V only. And anything with a spinning motor (e.g., hairdryers, fans, blenders, power tools etc) are usually designed to run at frequency of 50Hz. The latter is less of a problem and will technically will still work, it just won’t work to its optimum (mostly faster) and will risk damage to the motor after constant or long periods of use. Again, just check the back of your appliance and look for references to 110V/60Hz. If you see this, you should be good to go. But more likely that not you’ll just see something like “220V/50Hz only” or “240V only”. These are no good unless you have a Step-Up Transformer (i.e. a current transformer that ‘steps’ the 110V Voltage from the wall ‘up’ to the 220V required for your appliance.) As a basic rule of thumb, your Washing Machine, Dryer, Fridge, Dish Washer, Oven, Microwave, Kettle and Toaster are all a write-off. You may get lucky with some other small items like your food mixer, blender or maybe your coffee machine, but don’t bank on it or hold your breath. Either way, their required wattages are often way too high to operate safely, if at all, for long periods of time with a step-up transformer. Note 1: Step-Up transformers work well and get the job done, but they’re pretty big and heavy, some times unreliable. They can also make a buzzing sound if they are working hard to power multiples items. They only step up the Voltage (V) and not the frequency (Hz). It’s also best that they are only used for intermittently for items like the occasional drilling or sewing session if you must. Especially for appliances with motors. They MUST also have a higher Wattage rating than the item/s in use combined. So if your 220V drill or hairdryer uses above 1000W (Watts) it’s better not to even bother bringing them or using them with a transformer . A decent enough 1000W Step-Up Transformer with cost you about $50 and up. Anything more powerful gets really heavy and really expensive fast! So it may make sense for a handful of small individual items that use 800W or less and that you’ll probably replace later anyway, or maybe for that one big item you simply can’t replace or live without. Note 2: US bulbs will not fit in your your lamps. But some of your lamps can still be saved if you’re handy with a screwdriver, some pliers, a wire stripper and re-wiring plugs. For a few bucks each you can often gets some new plugs and replacement light bulb sockets to adapt your lamps for US use. Seriously though, unless you know what you’re doing or unless your lamp a really a expensive designer thing, something really unique, traditional or carved from exotic African wood, it’s probably not worth the effort. I re-did about 4 of our lamps, and they all worked out well, but you often have to work some magic with the lamp shades to connect them around the slightly wider US light bulb sockets. Furniture: If you have something that looks even vaguely decent, is designer, or is made from any kind of solid wood, even plain old pine, stop reading now and just bring it with you! Quality furniture in the US is expensive. Solid wood furniture even more so. Even IKEA can be anything but cheap in comparison to average SA furniture prices in similar ranges and quality. Yes, there is a huge variety of furniture available in the US, some of which can be very stylish. Quality, however, varies greatly regardless of price. There are also often very good deals and sales to be had, but seriously, look at all of your stuff, consider its value and then do the maths. A 20-foot container to the US costs very roughly R120k - R160k. That’s $11.5k - $15k at the current exchange rate. Now make a list of your furniture and go online to Ikea, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Macys, Sears, JC Penny etc. and price (even vaguely) the equivalent items, not forgetting to add up to 10% sales tax. Even excluding delivery, which is either free or exorbitant. If you make it to even three quarters of the way though your furniture list and HAVEN’T hit $13k yet, you are either a student, or you are young and single, or you have somehow spent more money on your car than on your house/flat/apartment. That is furniture ALONE! Now consider all of your other stuff… cutlery, crockery, towels, linen, curtains, wall art, picture frames, mirrors, clothes, shoes, electronics (the ones mentioned above that will work in the US), Blu-rays, DVDs, CDs, Games, Books, Toys etc. Suddenly, even at R160k, that container is looking like a bargain! Note 1: Bed sizes are roughly the same in the US, give or take an inch. Name differ and vary slightly though. The US also has some additional sizes like California King for example. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bed_size for dimensions and you should get a good idea if they match what you have. We didn’t bring our beds, because they were really old and we were going to replace them anyway. Our linen from our queen bed fits the replacement queen-sized bed we bought for our guest bedroom perfectly (even the fitted sheets). As for duvet inners, we found some decent feather/down duvet inners at Bed, Bath and Beyond (even in blazing hot Arizona). American’s are more partial to their comforters, which are more like all-in-one duvets. Think fiber-filled duvet with the cover sewn on permanently. It’s also very regional and based on climate, so you’ll find they layer their linen more, depending on the season and the temperature range. Now of course not everyone’s financial circumstances are the same and up to R160k cash up front is quite a chunk of change, especially factoring in the costs of flights, accommodation, rentals and the whole move in general. Luckily for us we had the savings up front and could afford the container. We’re also so glad we did. Not only from the financial side, but also from the personal side. The shock of a new country and whole new culture, one without friends or family is hard enough to deal with, sacrificing almost all of your familiar and worldly possessions that you’ve poured your life, your savings and years of your time into is like leaving behind a part of your soul. I find it wonderfully comforting to have so many familiar things from my SA life around my new home in the US. Alternatively, if you’re young and carefree enough and still sleeping on that worn out old couch bed that your mom gave you when you left home, you can just flog your worldly belongings and start from scratch. Beware, though. The climb back to where you were before will be slower and more expensive with almost every single thing you have to replace. Although, it does make for a great spring cleaning exercise :-) I’ll leave you with that to mull over for now…
  • Create New...