After numerous participations in the Green Card Lottery, Samantha has now been living in her new adopted home, the Sunshine State of Florida, for two years. In her Green Card review, she tells us how she made a smooth start into her new life through good preparation!
Why did you join the Green Card Lottery?
When I was 18, I had the desire to emigrate to the USA and found out about the Green Card Lottery after some research. I can't remember why I chose The American Dream. But I can say one thing: It was the right decision!
What was your first reaction after receiving the winning notification?
I took part in the Green Card Lottery seven times until I finally won. I was sitting on my bed and checked my emails on my laptop, which I usually don't do, because nowadays you just use your phone. I read "Congratulations" in the subject line and thought "Spam again". After I had read the email and compared my data, I just thought "Oh. My. God." I then quickly informed my parents, who both didn't believe it. It was a very, very, VERY unreal feeling, but pure joy!
How did you experience the Green Card application process?
I didn't have any trouble with the application. There is a lot to fill out, I think I remember 74 pages. Fortunately, you can save everything and don't have to fill it all out in one day.
You should expect not to hear from the authorities for weeks or even months after the documents have been sent. Then you suddenly get an invitation for an interview. This means that you quickly have to go to the public health officer to get a medical examination. My interview was at the consulate in Frankfurt. Luckily I lived only 25 minutes away. I was extremely excited and in total panic. My English wasn't so good back then. I had already prepared all the answers in my head so that I wouldn't make any mistakes.
I paid my fees and sat down in the waiting area. There I saw some Green Card winners who had been at the doctor's office with me a few days before. I watched the candidates being called to the interview window. You could hear pretty much everything they asked and thus prepare for what you would be asked yourself. I remember that one lady was interviewed in English and the next had to switch to German because the applicant's English wasn't good enough. When it was my turn, I was a little disappointed, because the officer immediately started in German and I had all the answers prepared in English.
The interview lasted about 5 minutes and was super pleasant. I was extremely relieved when I came out of the consulate, shedding tears of joy. My advice is: don't stress yourself too much and have the answers prepared both in English and German.
How did your activation trip look like?
I drove across Florida for two weeks to find my future dream home. I also opened a bank account. You should definitely do this in advance to build up your credit history. I got a Travel Credit Card, with which I could pay in Germany without any fees and so I could set up my credit history long before I emigrated. If I had not started my credit history in advance, I would not have been able to rent an apartment or buy a car.
Where do you live now and what are the differences to your everyday life in Germany?
I've been living in Tampa, Florida, for almost two years now. I had rented an Airbnb apartment and also organized a rental car for the first 3 months. My plan was to take 2 weeks off and then apply. I had already tried to apply from Germany before and also had some Skype interviews, but the Americans want you to start working the next day and not in 2 months.
After 2 weeks of vacation I applied actively and found a job within a few days. That was pure luck and I never expected it to happen so fast. With my job offer I was able to rent an apartment and a few weeks later I bought a car.
My everyday life doesn't differ much from that in Germany. The biggest difference is probably the beach. It is within reach and I spend a lot of time there.
Looking back, would you decide to move to the USA again?
I'd take that step again anytime. After all, you can always come back to Germany, but the experience, whether negative or positive, cannot be taken away.
Would you recommend The American Dream service to other USA fans?
Absolutely! My questions were always answered quickly. It was reassuring to know that you have a reliable source.
Do you have some advice for future winners?
Preparation is the be-all and end-all. Financially and mentally. I have put together a budget that reflected my expenses for the following 6 months. I calculated the whole thing without any income. That means I only moved to the USA when I had saved so much money that I could survive at least 6 months there without a job. I didn't want to have to go back to Germany for a lack of money.
One should be aware that not everything goes according to plan and without complications. Especially when you emigrate on your own, like me, it's not always easy. In any case, you have to inform yourself about everything in advance. The credit history should not be underestimated, as literally nothing works without it.