Hello from NJ.
I left S.A in 1994.I was 24 jrs old and had just finish the Architecture course at the Pta Tech and had to do the practical side of the degree. Couldn't find anywhere to work,even for free.It was then that I decided that this might be a good time to go and visit my cousin in N.J. Somehow I was able to get a 6 month tourist visa.Sold everything I owned bought a ticket and had $2000 left. Said goodby to the girlfriend(who I was secretly really trying to get away from)
Thanks to my Cousin I was able to hang around for 6 months, by a car for $1000 an get a feel for the place. Obviously overstayed my visa and became a illegal alien. For the next 3year I did everything I could for money ,landscaping, odd jobs,shoveling snow in the winter and was able to make it. Was hard being the guys who's out there cutting the grass for the people in the big houses, or hanging christmas lights for people in McMansions to lazy to do it themselves. Funny thing was I thought I was really making a lot of money.
Making money got me to go scuba diving my great passion at the time. I was a diving instructor in S.A and started teaching at a local scuba store. One of the best decisions I ever made. Was able to make a lot of good friends and contacts. This finally led to me finding the love of my live and finally my vocation.
I met my wife in 1997 on a blind date. It was love at first sight. We gor engaged in 1997 and married in 1998. I was honest and upfront with her about my status right for the started and she stuck with me through it all. We filed for my green card with the help of an attorney and went through the well known rigmarole. My Son was born in 2001 and am sorry to say he doesn't speak afrikaans. Maybe one day.
I file for and got citizenship in 2004. What a special feeling that was.
I always loved working with my hands and I am a proud member of Dockbuilders Local 1456 NY/NJ. We build and maintain all the piers on the water around the tri state area.
It is tough leaving your family behind and going out into the unknown but was one of the bets decisions I have made in my live. Have a beautiful wife and son, a nice house ,good job and can fly my mother out here whenever I want to.