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Malamute

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Malamute last won the day on November 14

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About Malamute

  • Rank
    Certified Addict!
  • Birthday 12/10/1963

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Denver, CO
  • First Name
    Marion
  • Landed
    Dec 2008
  • SA Location
    CPT, PLZ, JNB
  • Language
    English

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  1. 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.
  2. Malamute

    DV-2019

    Haha, yes,, Motel 6 can vary tremendously - and is positioned as a very much a budget hotel. I stayed at about a dozen of them across the USA about 5 years ago during a 3 month roadtrip - never more than 1 night at a time. However, my choices were limited - traveling with a dog around 100lbs. Many hotels are 'sizeist' and won't take large dogs at all - e.g. Clarion only takes dogs up to 35lbs, and then at $35 per night, Marriott charges $100 per night, Hyatt $75 per night on top of the room rate etc. The first one I stayed at in Northern California was redone, and actually pretty nice - the worst was near Billings in Montana - a bit sketchy, but I always felt safe (maybe having a 100lb dog helps). Biggest boon was, that with AARP discount, I never paid much more than $60 per night, dog included, wheras many other chains would have been $160, once I took the pet fee into account. But, haven't stayed at once since!
  3. Congratulations, Janneman - 14 years is a long time to wait for that blue passport, but you got there! Personally, I don't think there is a right/wrong decision about dual citizenship - it is all about personal circumstances, plans, and quite honestly down to personal choice. I can see why people do, and why people don't. As for myself, I kept it - it wasn't actually too much hassle to renew the passport through the LA consulate - lots of paperwork and a bit of a wait, but all ok. I like having different options. Yes, as a South African citizen in SA, it does limit what the USA embassy can do for you (it doesn't mean that they can do nothing). Even on a USA passport, as purely a USA citizen, it is limited what they can actually do for you - e.g. evacuation (which is not a likely scenario in SA - and quite honestly very rarely actually offered by the USA even in countries where there are wars going on), or being a victim of crime in SA (a much more likely scenario) - they can help you with a new passport, temporary financial assistance (you pay it back), contacting family etc. Enjoy your new citizenship and all that comes with it - next month, we vote!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. Malamute

    DV-2019

    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.
  7. Malamute

    DV-2019

    Remember that ESTA is actually the program for visa free travel from certain countries like the UK, EU etc. (well, not entirely visa free - it is an electronic visa, instantly granted). The first time one lands on an ESTA, they do a special processing, and after that it is quick. So, the ESTA First Entry queue is actually for holders of those passports entering the USA for the first time on their ESTA. Most of the time, if you are in the wrong queue, they won't send you back, will just process you. There may be a line for new immigrants - but it wouldn't be labelled ESTA.
  8. Hello Eliab You will find this forum is not nearly as active as it used to be - I think many have moved on to social media platforms like Facebook pages for South Africans etc. However, there are still a few posts now and again here. Sorry to hear about the tough times you have been through. The job market in the USA is pretty good right now - although it always depends on what you are looking for and where etc. So, if you are not too picky, there are certainly abundant opportunities. Most important is probably your ability/status to work - i.e. did you get citizenship before you left to go back to SA? If you did, then you can pretty much move anywhere (and maybe try somewhere new this time - the States is a vast place full of great places to live). If you didn't - be aware that you may likely have lost your permanent residency if you moved permanently back to SA a couple of years back - and therefore moving back to the USA would indeed be starting from scratch with some sort of sponsorship visa etc. Hopefully that is not the case. All the best in what you decide - there isn't a 'right' decision, only what is 'right for you' decision.
  9. Hi Oscar I was also with Nedbank, and they are pretty sticky about the whole FICA thing etc. I started this late last year, and it took about 5 months in total. Yes, you can cash it all out - but only by doing financial emigration. I ended up using a company called Rand Rescue - and paid their fees, because I didn't want to try and deal with it all myself - it is quite a process! I can recommend them - the process was fairly painless, when you take into consideration dealing with SA banks, SA Reserve Bank, SARS and Old Mutual. Also, a friend was doing the same thing at the same time, and had to complete some SARS tax returns for some arbitrary years....that is quite common, it seems, but I didn't have to. I also still had an active SARS tax number. If you don't have one, they will re-register you with SARS. (you can deregister again after the whole process is complete and you have done the final return). Basically, they opened a Mercantile Bank account for me (blocked account), and Mercantile did my financial emigration - a ton of paperwork with the reserve bank. I had to obtain a certificate of residence from the IRS this side as part of that process (that proved not too hard to get, but in itself took about a month). Mercantile was then able to submit paperwork to Old Mutual to cash out my policies with them (RA's) - as they could only be cashed out due to emigration - this is because of the laws related to the Pension Funds Act - or some such - in SA. Your bank in SA has to do this and give the instruction to the company holding the policy - it isn't something you can do. They also had to get tax directives from SARS before the money could be cashed out, which stipulated how much tax was to be paid - this was deducted by Old Mutual and then the nett amount was paid into the Mercantile account. At that point, they were able to transfer the money to me in the USA. As for the SARS tax - the first R25 000 you cashout is tax free, and then the rate is 18% on the amount up to R660 000 - at least that is the current tax table.
  10. Hi Oscar, I'm not an expert, but had similar situation (investment in a RA that I continued paying etc after I moved to the USA). For the USA: 1. IRS - if the value exceeds $100k (if you are married, filing jointly) or $50k (married filing separate/single), then you need to submit a form 8938 with your tax return each year. It sounds like this will not be the case with you. 2. FINCEN - Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (i.e. anti money-laundering) requires you to file an FBAR each and every year you have control of assets outside of the USA which exceed $10k. Sounds like this will be the case with you. For SA: 1. This is going to depend on whether it is just money invested, or whether you are drawing it as an income. If the rules of the policy state that they MUST now convert it to an RA - this usually means that you can cash out 1/3 in a lump sum - with up to R500k being tax free, (although on $160k, the tax free lumb sum will only be a bit north of R53k) while the rest must be now used to purchase an annuity, which gives you a monthly income for life. You cannot now, or in the future, cash that out, once you have purchased the annuity - it remains in place for life, whether or not you have financially emigrated, or what citizenship you hold. The 1/3 can be cashed out only into a South African resident bank account (and you will have to access it from there including abiding with reserve bank rulings). Likewise, the annuity can only be paid out - this will be monthly income - into a South African resident bank account. If you don't have one of those (and you would have to FICA to get one), you may have to do it as a non-resident. 2. For a non-resident bank account, you will first have to do financial emigration which is handled by a bank in SA. For this, I had to get a letter from the IRS stating that as far as they know, I am resident in the USA for tax purposes. Once you have financially emigrated, you can either keep the non resident bank account open, and have the funds paid into that (and use it on return trips to SA, for example, or have it sent to you in the USA - which involves bank fees each time). 3. The money remains SA source income, and is subject to SARS tax, but you would still have to declare this annuity income on your IRS tax return each year, AND claim the foreign income tax credit (due to tax treaty with SA). To be honest, in the long term, it will be such a pain to keep going with the investment (which is not that big) - with all the filings you will have to do each year, that you may want to bite the tax bullet now - and cash it out, and bring the funds over to the USA. I did this earlier this year - financial emigration, paid the tax in SA, brought the funds over to the USA etc. I will have to file one more SARS return, and one more FBAR next year, as this year I did still have control of $10k+ in a foreign country (SA), but after that, the extra paperwork is done. A final note: I actually did the calculation: Had I cashed my funds out in 2007, when I left SA, I would actually have got MORE $ for it, than I did cashing it out in 2019, despite the fact that there had been good growth in the interim (in ZAR), AND I had been still paying a premium into one policy for these 12 years)! So, for me, keeping an investment in SA while doing lots of extra paperwork, was not worth it.
  11. Malamute

    DV-2019

    On Point number 2: No, I did not have a derivative in the situation that you describe, but it seems that your sister will not be eligible for a derivative visa. USCIS has a very specific formula for calculating the age in the case of DV derivative in this situation - you can read the details of how they calculate this in Chapter 7 of the policy manual - scroll down to section F - where they show how it is calculated for DV derivatives. Basically, they take the age your sister is on the first day of the month in which a visa is available - e.g. 01 September 2019, when your father's number is current. In your sister's case, that would be about 22 years and 11 months based on what you describe. Too old for a derivative visa - so that is when the CSAP kicks in - where they look at giving her 'credit' for the number of days the application was pending prior to when a visa was available. For DV derivatives, this 'credit' is based on the time from the DV entry period (October 2017) until the date of the notification of selection (May 2018) - i.e. about 7 months. They will then deduct those 7 months from your sister's actual age on the date (01 Sep 2019) that a visa is available. If she is 22 years and 11 months on that date (my assumption), then her CSAP age for visa purposes is that age MINUS 7 months - i.e. 22 years and 4 months. That is still too old for a derivative - as the CSAP age needs to be under 21 years. In any case, she should remain unmarried - the wait for your parents to sponsor her in the future is much shorter for an unmarried child, than it is for a married hcild. https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-7-part-a-chapter-7 HOWEVER: While your parents may be hesitant to 'leave your sister behind' - this would only be temporary, and they CAN bring her over - just not initially. Once they have landed in the USA and validated their GC - i.e. they actually become permanent residents, they can petition to bring her over as the unmarried child of a permanent resident. According to the latest Visa bulletin, numbers in this category (F2B)are current for applications filed in June 2014 - so it is about a 5 year wait. They need to be prepared for this - i.e. leaving her behind, and waiting 5 or so years (while she remains unmarried) before she too can move to the USA. For them not to come over, means everyone stays behind in SA.
  12. Malamute

    DV-2019

    At minimum wage - which is the lowest you may, by law, pay - you will still be paying around $10.87 an hour this year (you have to pay 1.45% of the minimum wage as the employer over to Medicare, and an additional 6.2% as social security tax) - but the minimum wage is rising to $15 per hour over the next couple of years, so that makes it $16.14 per hour.....and that is still minimum wage (farming is a LOT harder than other minimum wage jobs, so it will be a hard sell at that rate - you will likely have to offer a few $ above that to attract and retain any workers). Hawaii also has the lowest unemployment rate in the entire USA - companies really battle and compete to find workers - so the actual going wage is much higher than the minimum wage and many have to offer other benefits to have a chance of getting workers - e.g. paid time off, medical insurance etc. Even hourly Starbucks workers get that. I would double the wage calculation part of your equation at least, to be realistic. Workers are fickle for just 20c more an hour at that price point. Good luck with the nut farming.
  13. Malamute

    DV-2019

    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.
  14. I can give you my perspective/experience: 1. I did my interview in London - and my police clearance from SA was more than 6 months old, - in fact was more than a year old, and it was fine - I got it in about May 2007, but was gone from SA within a few months after that, and I used it at the consulate in London in September 2008. 2. As for you son, I would think it would be fine, as he was under 16 when he last resided in SA, despite the fact that it is his country of nationality. If, however, if you are applying for everyone else, it is probably easy enough to add him to the pile - but, to be honest, I wouldn't think you need it - e.g. I don't believe applicants in South Africa have got police clearances for their kids - after all, what is the cutoff then? 10 years old? 5 years of age?
  15. Malamute

    DV-2020

    That IS a low number of South Africans drawn - lowest I've seen for at least a decade, (in 2014, there were over 1 000). Also a low number of people notified. The last time it was around 84k was 2017, then all numbers for Africa were current by the May, so you are definitely in with a pretty good chance, despite a fairly high number. Yes, I did two trips before the 'final' trip. 8 months in total between the first trip when I landed on the visa, and the 'final' landing, with the intermediate trip done at the 5 month mark.
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