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

  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
  21. 2 points
    Hi everyone! My experience with social security card; it did not arrive automatically, had to go in to SSAdministration (there is one in Honolulu and Hilo), and you just complete a form, bring passport, did not need birth certificate. And it was in the mail two weeks later. Kallas, no mail gets delivered in rural Hilo/Mountain view, call USPS or ask locals, so find an address that you know works, this is also NB for green card. Regarding the green card; mine was sent to an address in Hilo, undeliverable, and was sent back to the mainland, have a new address now, so will hopefully arrive soonish. Otherwise all is well, been surfing, diving, hiking, running, and loving Hawaii. [at]Kallas When are you back on the islands, have you found a house, car, yet. Toyota or Ford? Shout if you and your family are in Honolulu, I’ll show you guys around a bit. [at]FranetteM Great, so it all went well for all of us on here this year, are you guys settled in, and finding the new place interesting?
  22. 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 😜
  23. 2 points
    Ok that makes sense now, it’s not the “first time ESTA” that’s relevant, it’s the “visitors with visas other than b1/B2” that makes that line the correct one.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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!!
  27. 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/
  28. 2 points
    [at]Kallas, they don’t list financial documents because everyone is so different - what they need from a 24-year-old IT graduate will be very different to what they need from a 65-year old retiree, for example. You will need to show you won’t be a public charge in the US ie you can support yourself. As Heidi says a I134 is one option, they almost never used to ask about this in SA but seems they do more now (I am guessing part of the reason is that the rand has fallen so much that converting SA assets is much less favorable than it used to be). But any sensible approach will work - an i134 or job offer would be solid, or bring proof of your assets in SA that you will be able to liquidate and take (House, shares etc). If you have a degree and/or work experience in a field that should be easy to get work in, that will help of course even if you don’t have a job offer yet (most people don’t get one before they move). In addition to what Oscar says about income, if you have significant assets to liquidate- I would suggest try do that before you become a green card holder. If you do it afterwards, you may also be liable for capital gains tax in the US (probably not on your house as the effective primary residence exemption is much higher in the US, but possibly on financial assets. However if you start renting out your house after you are gone, you will afaik lose the primary residence CGT exemption both in SA and US so be aware of the tax implications of that. It may be worth getting a quick tax consultation on these issues before you leave.) Note that unless your SA income is particularly high, the double tax agreement (if you have paid tax in SA) and foreign income exemption (I think it’s around $100k a year, maybe a little higher now) should usually mean you don’t have to actually pay tax on it in the US even though you have to declare it to the IRS. Be sure to investigate all the nuances of the current situation about whether or not you need to financially emigrate, given that for now you plan to keep assets/have income in SA. good luck!
  29. 2 points
    There are years when they draw more people than they need to fill the quota of 50000 visas a year - when that happens, not everyone who has been selected gets an interview. Those are the years that high case numbers are risky. It happens every so often, it seems quite difficult for them to predict it accurately. There have also been years when they don’t fill the quota as not enough people process.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 2 points
    For those of you who are interested - I would like to make you part of our journey and maybe it helps someone else in the future as I found there is limited information for South Africans petitioning with the i-360 form. Just an update on our i-360 petition in the EB4 category at USCIS. The priority date for our application is 15 September 2017 and we only expected a response around mid-December. So it happened that on day 54 of our application we received an RFE. We would have been stoked to have received an approval notice instead but we are grateful that our application is being processed a month earlier than we expected. My employer, who is the petitioner, is now waiting to receive the RFE so that we can see exactly what they are requesting. I will update you on the RFE. We are consulting the immigration lawyers again on this so that we can be sure we are sending everything USCIS needs. Here are also a few updates on our local documentation applications: 1. Unabridged Birth Certificates (R75 per application ) Applied on: 1 Nov 2017 Received on: 08 Nov 2017 (we are still waiting for my wife's certificate) 2. Police Clearance (R114 per application) Applied on: 06 Nov 2017 Received on: - 3. Unabridged Marriage Certificate (R75 per application) (We have reapplied as they issued us previously with an abridged certificate instead of an unabridged version.) Applied on: 09 Nov 2017 Received on: - 4. North-West University Graduation Certificate (R200) Applied on: 02 Nov 2017 Received on: 08 Nov 2017 Hope everyone has a great day!
  33. 2 points
    JumpingJasonFlash Just an update for you. My husband went for his interview yesterday. He was in the room for 10 minutes, he was never even asked about his absence of 5 months in the beginning still with a SA address. So no need to worry about that. I think they only need an explanation if you are out longer than 6 months. Now just waiting for the swearing in ceremony.
  34. 2 points
    Hi Dreamland. I can imagine the nerves are completely finished. We took our bank statement of outstanding home loan amount along with valuation from our estate agent as well as pension fund payout amounts. They looked at it very quickly, so they were not too interested in all honesty. Our appointment was last year. We decided beforehand to take things one step at a time. Wait for your number to be released, wait for your mail from KCC and then you start with medicals, once passed, interview, when passed, sell the house, pay the last fee and fly. Good luck.
  35. 2 points
    This page of the SA consulate website confirms the $25 mentioned by JJF
  36. 2 points
    I had a similar experience - landed, then went back to the UK for 5 months, returned for 5 days, then back to the UK for another 2.5 months before finally returning. I listed my UK residence for that duration. The interviewer didn't comment on that, and I was approved. (naturalized in 2014).
  37. 2 points
    I completed the section on the form about my trips outside the US - they did not ask a single question about the long absences. My guess is that it is not uncommon for people to have one such trip.... maybe the guy that handled my case was in a good mood and let it slide. I did have answers ready for them in case they asked.... flimsy ones, but answers none the less.
  38. 2 points
    And today’s terribly sad news of the church shooting in Texas, plus the awful Vegas tragedy, just underscores that in fact white men with guns are far more dangerous to Americans than DV immigrants whether Muslim or not.
  39. 2 points
    Wishing you all the luck in the world. It is a lottery, but a weighted lottery based on region and country of origin. So the odds are really not that bad at all for us South Africans. On average about roughly 20,000 Saffers enter each year (sometimes more, sometimes less) and anywhere between 700 and 1200 are selected. Those are some pretty darn good odds for any lottery system. The trick is to keep at it and just live your life. Don’t let an unsuccessful entry stop you entering again the following year. Keep your paperwork up to date and keep on keeping on. If/when it happens the wait and effort will be worth it. We just made it part of our annual routine, like doing our taxes, hanging our Christmas decorations, paying our TV license, renewaing out vehicle license, fertilizing the lawn, entering the DV lottery... a few years went by and BOOM! Our entry won! Also remember if you’re married, you can both enter separately to improve your chances. Good luck and vasbyt!
  40. 2 points
    Hi everyone, Just wanted to give an update, after postponing our interview which was due in November last year, we managed to get our interview on the 29th of August. We didn't take any sort of financial documents with to the interview, when they asked us,we said that it didn't indicate we have to take anything with. He then asked if we know anyone in the US, to which we replied yes and long story short, our visas have been approved! What an exhausting year, but at least it is all over and done with now! Good luck to anyone else.
  41. 2 points
  42. 2 points
    Our F3 priority date was Dec 2008. Hard to believe would still be waiting there for a few years yet if we hadn't won DV!
  43. 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.
  44. 2 points
    Yeah, immigration reform comes up about every year to 18 months and goes absolutely nowhere every single time. The system is certainly far from perfect, quite ridiculous in fact, but much like the ridiculous healthcare system and the even more ridiculous tax system, nothing major really ever gets done about them, becuase they are such hot button issues and the nation is far too divided on all of them. Heck even the political parties themselves are divided internally on these issues, so getting any major bills through with even the slightest majority in both the House and the Senate requires a phenomenal effort and leadership (hahahahahahaha!), not withstanding the last hurdle being the President himself who can veto the bill unless it gets a +60% majority veto-proof in the Senate. Throw into that the near constant primary/election cycle and it's little wonder that these issues are never fully addressed and simply get kicked down the road. They are a conundrum wrapped in a riddle, because they are key election issues, but historically speaking the party that actually delivers on any promises in these three critical categories are almost always punished heavily the next election cycle. The trick in many cases (as the politicians have learnt) is to keep "talking" about them to get and stay elected, but to never fully deliver, becuase in most cases it is political suicide. So in a nutshell, keep entering that lottery and sponsoring your family if/when you are able. I'm pretty sure we'll still be talking about the same thing come this time next year and the years following that.
  45. 2 points
    Hi All This is for info sake (maybe everyone knows this already) To save on Prescription Medicine costs, visit www.goodrx.com for coupons and best prices on your prescription meds. Our pediatrician prescribed a tropical cream for our teenagers skin. The Rx was phoned in to our local Walgreens, when we picked up the meds, the charges/ costs were $500 for one months supply. After we asked that the Pharmacist apply a coupon (yap put your pride aside and ask)- it came down to $300. As this is still absurd in our eyes, The pharmacist ''suggests' that we bring in another coupon if we are not ''happy'' We returned later (after finding this website) and got the meds for $160. (we did have to pay cash/ by card- but as our medical insurance have a savings card options, we pay our co pays and meds from that account)
  46. 2 points
    Good luck everyone. I pray for all of us counting down the hours and hoping that we will get this. The universe somehow needs to make this happen!
  47. 2 points
    Good luck everyone! A few more hours to go, praying the best results for all!
  48. 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!
  49. 2 points
    8 days 17 hours to go, yes i have a countdown clock...
  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…
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