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About Leigh-

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    Silver Member

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  • Location
    North Carolina
  • Landed
  • SA Location
    Cape Town
  1. Leigh-

    Early Citizenship

    Pushing it just a little bit Eileen is right, you can apply 90 days before the date on your GC. Send it in now and it will be returned to you as ineligable. Dh and I became citizens in 2007. Took just under 6m for me and just over 6m for him.
  2. While I have not been in the USA nearly as long as Frank has, Ive encountered this a lot. I totally embraced my new country when I landed in 2000 and I quickly got tired of hearing SA Expats critisize the USA and carry on about how much they miss SA (not talking about family but the country itself). I also got tired of being asked about my greencard status. Seriously, a lot of the time thats the first sentence after "hello". Its as if its a competition. Off course I like the bummed look when I reply Im a citizen :ilikeit: Ive also learned that being from South Africa alone is not enough to form/sustain a friendship. We have SA Expat friends, but we are friends bec we clicked and not bec we're all SA expats. We are trying to form friendships with people from all over. That said, Id be happy to welcome you to Raleigh and help with any questions you might have We relocated from MA to NC last November and it really is a wonderful area.
  3. We live in Cary which is right next to Raleigh I dont seek ppl out bec they are SA expats but Ive met a few through hearing the accent in the store etc. Ive also seen quite a few cars with the SA flag displayed on them. I belong to a Facebook page called SA Tarheels which is for SA Expats living in the Raleigh area. I dont attend events but they seem pretty active. Good-luck with your move.
  4. True. Its up to the person at the POE but 6 months seemed to be standard. KWIM :wink: My mom got 6 months on all prior visits. The USCIS employee I was referring too is my (new) neighbor. I didnt want to ask too much, she seems to like to leave work related issues at work. They only gave her a 1 year visa in 2006, so we have to deal with that first. She got a 10 yr visa in 1994 but her circumstances changed since then (divorced, unemployed, no property etc). The consulate grilled her a bit in 2006 but were satisfied with her answers (legally my parents are divorced but they rekindled the flame, they live together, my moms the homemaker and my dad earns the bacon ) and my invite letter (had my green card back then, now citizen). Guess we'll figure it out later. Id love her to be here for both of my childrens bdays, my 30th and Xmas - 95 days apart.
  5. When did they arrive? I didnt see anything on the USCIS site but I did see it mentioned/asked on another messageboard. Apparently the change went in to effect very recently.
  6. Does anyone have family/friends who recently visited on a B visa? How long were they allowed to stay? Generally it used to be 6 months. Has that changed? I heard from someone working for USCIS that its been changed to 3 months. Trying to figure out dates for my moms visit. Thanks.
  7. As others pointed our this will vary greatly between states We live in a booming area in North Carolina. Our town was voted the 6th best place to live in the USA in 2006. Accomodation House - Mortgage - Recently bought 2550 sq feet, 4 beds+bonus room 2.5 baths for just over $300K. We put down 20% and were able to lock in an AWESOME 30 year fixed rate before rates started to rise. With current rates and a 20% down payment you are looking at $1520 p/m for a $300K home. House - Rental - I have no idea Personal Property Tax - we only pay this on cars, its less than $250 per year Real Estate Tax - $2800 per year Homeowners Insurance - $600 per year Electricity - Low $45, Peak $150 in July/August Natural Gas (stove, heat, hot water) Low $35, Peak in Feb $180 Water + Trash Removal - $55 Communication Telephone - We use Lingo.com VOIP [at] $21.95 p/m Add about $25 for calls to SA Cable Internet + digital cable TV and DVR $100 Cellular Phone x 2 - We only have 1, Dh gets a blackberry through work. My plan is $40 p/m for WAY too many mins Transport Public Transport if applicable n/a Car payment (lease/rental) 1 car We just leased a 2008 Honda Odyssey EX for $300 p/m (My 2nd Odyssey LOVE them. My DH drives a Honda too) Car Insurance $550 for SIX months Petrol / Diesel $4/gallon, we spend about $250 p/m Other Average food bill $400 (2 adults, toddler, preschooler, dog) This incl everything even diapers. I am VERY frugal. I shop sale flyers and use manufacturer coupons. I bought $80 worth of groceries today but only paid $36 for it. Eating out (Spur style) once a week - $50 but we eat out twice per month tops Personal Insurance - Do you mean life insurance? Dunno Community Association - Do you mean Home Owners Assoc? $90 every SIX months Domestic worker - Wish I got paid Garden Services - I dont get paid for that either I volunteer to mow the lawn though, good exercise. Love it, my kids usually follow me around with their plastic mowers HTH
  8. Its a personal choice/preference. We were planning on raising our kids bilingual but our plans changed when our son was diagnosed with a speech delay and we started speaking English only. I guess it depends on how loyal/patriotic you are towards SA and how sentimental you are about Afrikaans. Sadly, we could care less. (As mentioned, I still speak Afrikaans to my Dh as English definately is his 2nd language even after 14 yrs in the USA ) Ive gotten some unwanted comments from SA Expats (mostly older women) about how I MUST teach my children Afrikaans as its part of their heritage etc. I fail to see how its any of their business. We are American, this is our home.
  9. I still have an accent but I speak American. The only ppl who has trouble understanding me are SA folks in SA Its not something I purposely tried to change, it just happened naturally over the years. I guess the fact that my toddler and preschooler only speaks/understands (American) English contributed to it. Say what comes naturally during your interview! GL! ETA - My mother is bilingual but was raised Soutie. Even after two 6 month visits my previous neighbor had a heck of a time understanding her!
  10. I was like WTH, did someone hack my account/username?! Hopefully it doesnt get too confusing. Welcome and good luck with the process
  11. Reviving an old topic Its funny how priorities change ... We moved November 2007, closed on our new house in January 2008. We ended up buying a house in Cary on a 0.25 acre lot with a HOA and we LOVE it The neighborhood is 10 yrs old, so established. We have a lovely fenced yard with lots of mature trees in the back and a lovely playset which conveyed with the house. We are centrally located yet its so quiet and peaceful. We love the house, plenty of space and nice little upgrades. Anyone considering moving here, you wont be dissappointed! Ive noticed a lot of SA Expats in the area. Only ran into a few in the stores but I see lotsa vehicles displaying the SA flag.
  12. Thanks for the correction. I was thinking of sponsoring my brother and from what Ive read its 10 yrs. I peeked at the VT Service Ctr processing times. They are currently processing applications from July 2007 for spouse, parent or child under 21. Siblings - February 2001 :thumbdown: So its still going to take you about 10 yrs to sponser your mother. Sorry
  13. Well shoot, seems that I just lost my post! In a nutshell ... Every state seems to operate like a little country by itself, laws/procedures can vary greatly. Ex - Drivers lic - Some states will let you convert your lic without any tests or just the written one, others req the whole shebang. Cost of living and salaries also varies. On the east coast $100K wont even buy you a shack, but salaries are higher. Our electric bill is quite a bit less than the $ posted here. Im not an immigration expert but unfortunately I dont see how your mother can legally accompany you. Dependant visas are only available to spouses and unmarried children under 21. You can sponsor your mother once you become a US citizen for which you are eligable 5 yrs after you get your greencard. Even then, parents are 3 rd priority, so that will take another 5 yrs. Im not sure how long the greencard process is now, it took my dh over 5 yrs (1996 - 2001). So you are looking at 15 yrs. It sucks! Id love to be proven wrong by an expert! Schooling is another thing that varies from one state to another. Generally the new school year starts end of August/beg September. I live in North Carolina and our county has year round elementary schooling with the new school year starting just after July 4th holiday. Personally Id start them mid yr in their current grade You should be able to find the property tax rate on the county website. Ours is .534 county + .33 city, so .864 per $100 assessed. Good-luck!
  14. Leigh-

    Minivan Vs. Suv

    I have an Odyssey and I LOVE it. Ive also driven both a Sienna and Sedona (rentals). You really cant go wrong with either of them.
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