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Showing content with the highest reputation since 07/03/2019 in all areas

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 3 points
    Hopefully we get a new President in January!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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?
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. 2 points
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/im-south-africa-spent-2-172420068.html
  12. 2 points
    The opposite perspective https://www.goodthingsguy.com/opinion/24-weird-things-south-africa/
  13. 2 points
    Final Update: My inlaws had their interview today at Johannesburg Consulate and visas were approved. They will be joining us later this month. The process took 15 months in total. Merry Christmas and Happy holidays!
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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?
  17. 2 points
    Good luck to everyone entering. May your dreams come true and your applications be successful. After entering the Visa lottery 11 times and never winning the lottery, I am not entering this year as my F3 application is nearing the Interview stage - YEAHHH!!
  18. 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 😜
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 2 points
    Thanks for all the info. I got through JFK immigration quite quickly - followed the ESTA "first entry" signs. Took me about an hour. Officer was super chilled again, hardly any questions and very friendly. I'm currently in Honolulu and fly back on Thursday - by far the longest flights I've been on, super draining, but good to be here.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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!!
  26. 1 point
    I tell you, the way this year has been going I wouldn’t be surprised to switch on the news and watch Godzilla taking out the Golden Gate Bridge .
  27. 1 point
    Congrats, Delo! You must be beyond excited! It will definitely be interesting to see how the process works during the pandemic, although with a +20k number it’ll most likely be next year before you can expect an interview. Who knows what things will look like before then. At this rate we’ll probably be dealing with an alien invasion by Independence Day... 😂
  28. 1 point
  29. 1 point
    just a suggestion, will depend on your current work/age. Get your latest pension and retirement annuity statements showing what it is worth. that might just be more than enough. it is savings.
  30. 1 point
    Congratulations! The journey from DV to Citizen done and dusted! It feels good to travel on that blue passport! I also did the Global Entry once I had it - makes arriving back in the USA so quick and easy. Don't forget to go to the SS offices to update your status to citizen. I did it in San Rafael, and I was in and out in about 45 mins. You obviously just missed out on voting this November, but you are all set for the big one next November! Congrats again.
  31. 1 point
    Hi Kallas, not sure whether you have been sorted by now. We had the same problem. We arrived 17 Oct and when we went to the Social Security Admin after almost 2 weeks, we were told we're not in the system yet. We had our passports with us and also our unabridged birth certificates. That is basically all the info they ask for. It was really quick to apply and we received our SSN's yesterday, which is basically a week later.
  32. 1 point
    [at]Kallas, it sounds like something has gone wrong (happens occasionally) and you will need to go into a SSA office to get yourself on the system. Take your passport with the immigrant visa with you.
  33. 1 point
    Ours took just over four weeks to arrive which was in 2005. I believe they are much quicker now. The Green cards took about 6 weeks. This was around Thanksgiving time. So we only initially stayed in the US for a week and then went back to SA for three months. For newer folks, the process is a bit quicker. I know as someone used our address and their SSN Cards arrived within a week of their arrival.
  34. 1 point
    Do it! Do it ALL!!! So glad to hear about your adventures. We’re just finishing up our first trip to Mexico! Met soooo many Canadians down here, that now we just HAVE to head north and visit some old friends and new friends on the other side of the other wall! Maybe on our way up to visit Alaska. Still plenty of places to go in between the northern and southern borders, but that blue passport needs some more stamps!
  35. 1 point
    Good luck everyone. Remember there is a new rule, a valid passport held by the principal applicant is now needed to enter.
  36. 1 point
    Ah, yes, the Paramount. They had all of those doing the naturalization ceremony sit downstairs - and I was directed to a specific seat (this made sense later - as after the oath, they brought the naturalization certificates to the row you were in, and we each received ours there - so they knew who was sitting where) - i.e. you couldn't choose your seat. Guests were seated upstairs on the balcony, so you couldn't see them, nor they you, really, unless they were near the front etc, but you could join up afterwards. You will know about any other South Africans, as they start reading out the represented countries alphabetically, and you stand when your country is called, although you remain standing, so it is also hard to see who stands at the same time as you. Once all the countries are standing, you take the oath, and then all sit down again as Americans. They had quite an entertainment program with a band on stage playing 'This land is your land', the National Anthem etc. All in all, it was over in about 40 mins or so. Be prepared for the throng of vendors outside, selling special folders for your certificate, passport covers, even people to take your photo for your passport etc. Enjoy!
  37. 1 point
    Very exciting SJ272 - you are very close now. I did my ceremony in the Bay Area - and it was huge - over 800 people there, but a very nicely done ceremony. Yes, there were passport people there - and there was a part of the ceremony where they asked those who were applying for passports to make an oath en masse - so it was a simple question of handing in the form afterwards. I don't remember the voter registration, but they could well have been there - it was very crowded - 1000's of people with those natuarlizing and their guests etc. Also go to the Social Security office soon after to change your status to citizen - they do remind you to do that. It is a very nice feeling to have that certificate in hand, and even nicer to receive your USA passport! Enjoy.
  38. 1 point
    FranetteM - did you decide to travel ahead of your furry family member, or are they coming in the hold on the same flight? If they are coming on Emirates too, that can be a long, long flight in a crate for a dog, with transit time in Dubai etc, vs a direct flight.
  39. 1 point
    I have seen dedicated “new immigrant” lines at jfk but I am not sure if they are in all terminals or only some. As a non green card holder, my shortest time through immigration was five minutes (yes!! BA from London had a flight landing at around 1pm that was the only one at that terminal for from an hour or so before) and the longest was over 2 hours, but that was just before Christmas and high season and landing with a bunch of other planes. I definitely recommend asking an official (they always have someone directing to lines) for help (and show your brown envelope) if there isn’t a new immigrant line -technically you are supposed to use the normal non-immigrant non US/LPR line but I have seen them direct new immigrants to the USC/LPR line if it’s short and the other is long. Any CBP official can process an immigrant visa. (I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an ESTA line at an airport? [at]adventurer1what airport was that?)
  40. 1 point
    Yep - there are sandy white beaches on the more touristy islands, though you can usually find spots away from the tourists too even on Maui and Oahu. There was one big beautiful beach in Maui we went to, part of a state park, not very busy and the people who were there seemed to be mostly locals. But no matter the type of beach, it’s all beautiful.
  41. 1 point
    Awesome news [at]FranetteM, sounds like you guys are A for away! I haven't paid the immigration fees yet. As far as I understand, this only has to be paid before you go over, right? I'm planning on waiting a little longer, perhaps middle November, before going over so I'll pay the fees in the next two months or so.
  42. 1 point
    [at]FranetteM Yebo, I paid the $220 USCIS immigrant fee online, you can pay with a SA card no problem. But you need your alien registration number that is on the visa.
  43. 1 point
    The DA is trying to improve the service to South Africans living abroad in getting a new passport quicker. Please sign the petition if you are interested. Here is the link https://petitions.da.org.za/p/capablehomeaffairsabroad
  44. 1 point
    ^ I think summer Friday’s are catching on more and more. At my husband’s previous company, they had them all the way from Memorial Day to Labor Day! It’s also a lot more accepted to do work from home here, at least in the Bay Area. Many companies officially have wfh Fridays. Friend of mine lectures at a local university (came here on a work visa to do so, so jumped right in) and also had a bit of a learning curve with words. I don’t think it’s that critical that you need to wait a few years, but getting a voice coach actually is a good idea if you want to do something like that. The other thing is to pronounce your Rs - like in water, forty, over etc where saffers tend to pronounce as though it’s silent/h! Otherwise you may get blank stares! Also, at a supermarket, they won’t know what you mean if you say trolley - it’s a cart! Lots of these little ones to learn. You can usually figure out what other people mean, but they can’t always figure out what you mean!
  45. 1 point
    [at]Kallas, honestly, I wouldn’t bother with recruiting agencies. They are mostly a different animal here to what you see in the SA. It will be hard to get a job when you’re outside the US, which also means you will be highly limiting yourself in terms of opportunities. I know it’s scary, but my best advice is honestly to take the leap. Just do some research into areas that are good for your type of job. We had someone on the forum a few years back who battled to find work but he had gone to the place based on cheapest housing market he could find, but housing was so cheap because unemployment was so high there and there were no jobs. US is pretty hot jobs-wise at the moment, and if you are looking in the right region you should find something fairly quickly, I’d expect, bearing in mind many immigrants start out a little lower hierarchy-wise than when they left. My husband was pretty senior in his company on SA. took a cut in position when he moved over, now, 4 years later he is way more senior than the position he left SA at a fabulous company (nothing like it in SA). I hear similar stories like this all the time from our SA expats.
  46. 1 point
    [at]FranetteM Great. Yes that is the consulate in Sandton City. Cool, saw the Capital Empire, walked past it on the way, nicely done.
  47. 1 point
    Yip, huge relief, now to recover from the financial knock from the medicals and interview fees! I only realised on Tuesday that it's $330 per person, and we're a family of four. Good luck [at]FranetteM, if you have all your docs you have nothing to worry about, they're really chilled.
  48. 1 point
    Hi all, just finished with our interview. Arrived at 07:30 and parked at Sandton Mall (very short walk across to the consulate). We were second in the queue. As [at]Heidi556 explained, first counter collects all documents and photos, then you go pay, and finally get called to the last counter for the interview. It went unbelievably quick - I gave my abridged birth certificate in and they said nothing about it. Took the oath, and the officer said she doesn't see any issues and will approve our visas today. The officer did not even look at my finance statements. All done now it seems. Exciting times!
  49. 1 point
    Hi, yes I think you will be fine. There is also a Gautrain to the airport that will save you time. I will then make sure to be in the queue at the consulate earlier to be in front of everyone. You should be fine.
  50. 1 point
    And on that linked page, there are more lists, and links to lists to double check that you have all the documents. So Kallas’ interview is next week, and you guys are in a month from now, exciting times! Shoot with questions if you have, a month ago I was so stressed out, it’s an important step this, and a time that we won’t forget.
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