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Shamus

DV-2019

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Thank you so much Malamute! That is some awesome tips and advice, especially re the Motels and heartworm - I was really starting to stress about the pet. We really want to travel a lot and explore (even when we are employed), so this option of the pet friendly motels, etc is very good to know. It sounds like a much better option than the RV!

We are going to sell our car here (2017 Suzuki Baleno) and use that money towards buying a second hand car once we get there, but we also need to build up a credit record, like Heidi was saying. I just don't see how we can get the two to fit together, as they will probably not a approve  a car loan when we get there? It also means that one person will be mobile while the other will have to rely on public transport (which is not a problem), but I was thinking of getting a moped for emergencies or local travel. Will we be able to buy these with our SA driver's licences? Or do we first have to get USA  driver's licences?

Thanks again for everyone's input.

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On buying a car - a good 2nd hand is a great way to go (I'm still driving the 2002 car I bought in 2009 for cash).  No, it doesn't help to build the credit score if you buy cash, but as I didn't yet have a job etc, I just decided it was the way to go, and focused on my credit score later.  To be honest, it wasn't a big deal initially - I rented my first apartment based on my offer of employment - and once I was renting there, my credit built quickly with the utility companies etc - and eventually I did a secured credit card with the bank, which boosted it more.  In retrospect, I should have done that earlier.  (Tip:  if you do a secured credit card, that means you hand over an amount to the bank, and they give you a credit card up to that limit.  If you manage the card well, after a year, you get your 'security' back, and you have credit.  Go for a high limit/high security deposit - e.g. $5 000 vs $100, as that will eventually help your credit score much faster).

Mopeds are not a good option in most big cities - the trucks here are huge, and it can be pretty dangerous.  Public transport is usually very good - in some cities like New York and San Francisco it is really by far better than a car. Also, in many places, due to weather, moped will be useless 6 months of the year. People here use UBER all the time - so if you need to do an ad hoc trip to the shops or to work, that is an option.

As for registering a car and your license - the laws/timeline and rules are very different from State to State.  Bear in mind that if you register a car in a state, you need to be resident in that state.  If you subsequently move to a different state, you will need to register the car in that state - and it costs each time.  Some examples from personal experience: 

In Georgia, I could buy a car without a local license, but had to have a local driver's license before I could register it - and the dealer had just 30 days to transfer the car to me - so I had to get my license pretty quickly to do that.  In the meantime, I could drive it, as long as it was insured - only a few insurance companies would insure me, without a local license, and it was more expensive.  Car insurance is typically 6 months at a time (you can pay monthly, but it is a bit more usually) - so by the time renewal came up, I had the GA license, and the premium came down.

In California, I had to register my car within about 2 weeks of becoming a resident, if I recall, wheras in CO, I had 60 days etc.  Important to research which state you will be registering the car in - and budget for the fees to register (depending on the car and the state, could be a couple of thousand $$$).

All USA states will require you to do the driver's license from scratch - including the driving test, but once you have a license from one state, you can get one in a different state on that basis (sometimes you may still have to do a knowledge test, like in CA).

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1NL = First notification letter, you should print this now, as it disappears later.

2NL = Second notification letter, this can be found at the same website where the 1NL was, and gives your interview appointment details, print this for interview.

I was also reading old posts saying nothing is certain untill the visa is in your passport. From what I read from Malamute, and deductions made, it is not certain untill you enter the US and activate your visa. If you have a late interview, and receive your visa in passport close to 30 September, and you passport is stolen, that means it has not been activated yet, and if it is past 30 Sept the consulate cannot issue another visa. Therefore it is very important to keep it safe, and get it activated as soon as possible. 

Regarding transport, I also gather that a moped is not ideal, risky. I am considering a nice used pick up truck, like a F-150 or F-350. They are huge inside, more space than a Land Cruiser 200. Will help with moving, buying things for your new house, and you can put a camper on the cab (or a dak tent) and tour around. 

Edited by Heidi556

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Franette and Kallas, all of our three case numbers is now current, jipee! May bulletin for June interviews is Africa 37200 🙂

From what I gathered, 2NL's gets sent from the 15th to the end of the month, and then interviews are on Tuesday or Thursdays in Johannesburg.

 

1roos1.png

Edited by Heidi556
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[at]Heidi556 - so exciting! What happens now?? Do we wait for a mail from the KCC? I'm a bit unsure whether I should be excited or stressed, since I had to re-open our DS-260 forms to add our newborn daughter, and on top of that, we're still waiting on her passport from Home Affairs... I hope the passport's done soon so that I can complete our DS-260 forms. I'm guessing nothing is going to happen (we won't be scheduled for an interview) until we complete these. But does this mean we're missing out at all, or do we simply get scheduled as soon as we've completed the DS-260? Hope someone knows...

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Sounds great.. If you can try to get new South African Passports which gives you 5 years of peace of mind as once you are over here it takes 6-7 months to get a new SA passport.

Also while you are in SA renew your SA drivers licenses as they have new requirements for drivers license renewal- you have to show proof of address in SA. Nice to have if you go back there on vacation. 

You may also want to consider getting  those new Identity cards if you haven't done so already. 

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Hi Kallas, did you send a request to unlock your DS260? If you did, you have to complete and submit the DS260, and then it has to be processed, and then you can be scheduled for an interview. The processing takes time. So you are waiting for you daughters passport, when are you expecting it, and what is the maximum time it can take? I ask because there are only three months left to have your interview in (Jul, Aug, Sep). If your DS260 is unlocked and not processed, you will not be scheduled for an interview. If I were you, I would call KCC and the consulate, explain that you are waiting for a passport of a newly born child, and unsure when it will arrive. 

What happens now 😁 while we try to contain the excitement, we check emails (and Entrant Status Check ESC page if you think you miss their emails) for the 2NL, once you have the 2NL you schedule the medical check up, register appointment on consulate website, get all your documents together, and go for the interview.

Thanks Oscar, yes I have a fresh passport, and I'll go get a fresh drivers too. Most people here in SA have the new smart ID cards now.

Do you need a US proof of residence to open a bank account? AT&T contract and prepaid? Is a POBox a good idea for a new immigrant (if you know where you will settle)?

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Thanks [at]Heidi556. Yes I've already asked them to unlock the relevant DS-260 forms, and also added a profile for our daughter. I'm expecting the passport to arrive in the next 2-3 weeks.

I'll give the KCC a call and see what they say. Perhaps I can persuade them that I "complete" my daughter's DS-260 without the passport info, and then provide the passport info at the interview. Let's see what they say.

Thanks again and good luck with everything on your side. 

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Hi Heidi, When opening a US bank account you will need a copy of a utilities bill or if renting a copy of your lease agreement. The most important thing you need is you Social Security Card number.  Unlike South Africa, nothing has to be certified at a police station in the USA.

 

 

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Regarding PO Box rental - If you are staying in the same town I think its unnecessary. Mail delivery is very good over here. Mail is delivered six days a week. (Mon - Saturday) Express packages are even delivered on Sundays .Amazon is always delivering 7 days a week.

if you change address, you may do this a few times initially you can always have your mail forwarded to you to your new address for a period of six months for free. They even send (US Post office) you a email every morning before 8 :00am  with a scanned copy of the mail you are about to receive that day. They usually scan about 5 letters as this system only has space for 5 items you  may receive more mail items that has not been scanned. I have found this really helpful as you know what is coming for the day. This service was supposed to have stopped after 6 months but has been continuing for almost three years now. 

Renting a post box is not such a big deal over here. You can rent a post box inside a Postnet type store as well.

Here in The US there are loads of boxes delivered to homes daily, we have had nothing stolen yet. But crime is on  the increase especially in the big cities, so there is a chance of something being stolen, but not rampant theft.  

 

if you are going away for a few days or longer you can place a hold on your mail (done online) and they will deliver all your mail on the day you get back.

 

 

Edited by oscar

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^ the service Oscar is talking about is called usps informed delivery. It’s great, especially when you are waiting for stuff. There is no expiry by the way Oscar. 

And yes,most people get amazon etc left on their front porch, no walls etc around the houses! sometimes problems around Christmas time when people come looking to steal stuff as they know high value items arriving. The level of safety & comfort vs SA takes a while to get used to. Can you imagine in SA if SARS sent refund cheques in the post with the envelope labeled what they are.... but that happens here. Credit cards too. Etc. Mail system is mostly fast and overwhelmingly trustworthy. 

 

*btw I know hardly anyone uses cheques in SA anymore but they are different here. A check is effectively a one time debit order. You can deposit it by taking a photo on your banking app on your phone. Physical copies don’t need to go back to the bank.

 

Edited by SJ272

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Good to know that the  "informed delivery daily digest" does not end. It is the most useful email of the day !  Thanks SJ277

There is the rare day when we receive a image of a mail item that is supposed to be delivered and its not delivered. We then receive the mail a couple of days later. I assume the mailman put the item in the incorrect mailbox and then it was finally returned to us.

 

 

Edited by oscar

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Hi Everybody, Thanks again for all the tips and info about the moped - so that is definitely a no-no. Heidi, I checked the Visa Bulletin about every 5 minutes on Friday and when it didn't come up I thought it will only be available on Monday, but just to be sure I checked now. What a surprise!!! I'm shaking. So excited!!

Kallas, I agree with Heidi. I think they will let you add the missing passport number at the interview if you don't have it now. It is more important to get the DS-260's submitted so they can process. Best to phone and ask like you said. Good luck!

Heidi, when we went to USA in August last year, we got a temporary sim card from T-mobile without having to give proof of address. It worked for USA and Mexico. The only trouble was that my husband's phone was not compatible (too old they said, even when it was just over three years old), so I put it in my (newer) iPhone and it worked fine.

So we haven't sent our supporting documents to KCC yet - my husband was not satisfied with the quality of the certifications - we went to the police station twice for certifications in January and now in April and they don't have ink for their ink pads, so we're going to take some with us next time just to be sure 😁. We're still waiting for police clearance certificates. Other than that I think we're sorted, except for the fur baby. She got her microchip on Saturday, so now we have to take her back again for another Rabies shot, because apparently the chip must be done either before or together with the rabies vaccination, but the Vet said it's fine, it won't harm her to get another rabies vaccination in a few weeks.

Can anyone perhaps tell me how to find out which states are pit bull friendly? Out dog is a mixed breed and unfortunately some pit bull as well and we were told some states don't allow pit bulls.

Heidi, have you received your interview letter yet?

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[at]FranetteMthis might help https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/states-where-your-dog-might-banned.html/

interestingly some states have bans on some breeds and other states actually don’t allow bans on dog breeds.

bear in mind that the US is generally much more “in control” when it comes to dogs -  check your state laws - in the event that your dog bites someone, it may have to be reported to the police and/or animal control, who may take it away and euthanize it depending on the circumstances. (Any dog, not just pit bulls). Happened to friends of ours who ended up with a rogue Labrador - yes, a Lab - that bit a kid in the face bad enough for stitches.

Edited by SJ272

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As far as the ban on certain breeds of dogs - it isn't as easy as knowing a ban state by state.  As you will see by the link SJ272 has posted, the ban can be by county and/or by city as well.  Until about a year ago, the city I live in banned pitbulls.  Denver itself still does, as do a number of other cities in the metro area.  In addition to that, it is VERY hard to get an apartment lease with a pit bull in most places  - or get a landlord to agree - even in areas where they are not banned - their insurance usually bans a bunch of breeds - I have had the same problem - although I don't have pit bulls.  When I bought my house, I went through 6 or 7 home owner insurance companies before I found one that would accept my breed of dog.  BUT - all is possible - so you will be fine - but your choices of where to stay etc may be limited to 5% of the available places. Many places have a total ban on pets, or a weight restriction - e.g. dogs under 20lbs only (this one makes no sense to me). Cats are even more restricted.

SJ272 mentions that there is much more 'control' about dogs here - and it is a BIG change from how things work in SA, that a lot of people are not prepared for. Also, leash laws are a big deal here - and they ARE policed.  It varies tremendously from place to place.  There was almost nowhere I could walk my dog offleash in Atlanta, except for small dog parks teeming with other dogs.  It was a lot better in the San Francisco area, and a sort of 'in-between' situation here in Denver.  If you are used to taking long offleash walks on the beach in South Africa, for example, expect your options to do that here to be very much more limited.  Picking up and bagging pet waste here is a must too.

Lots of homes have no fenced in yards at all.  Those that do - usually a low fence, often split rail so dogs can get through, unless you use galvanized iron.  Again, will restrict your choices, but you will find something.

On the upside - lots of very safe places to go walking with you dog - even on your own without any worries.

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