Most USA fans dream about winning the Green Card to be able to live in the land of endless opportunities. That’s why they participate in the annual Green Card Lottery. But what happens, when you actually win the famous permanent residence permit?
Our lottery participants Anne, Andreas and their seven-year-old son are three of the lucky winners! And they truly couldn’t wait to move to their new home country. In 2017 they only had 10 weeks left to move from Germany to the USA after receiving their Green Cards.
Today, they are telling us about why they wanted to immigrate, their obstacles along the way and their new life in the home of the free.
Hello, Anne! What made you choose the American way of life and apply for the Green Card Lottery?
Thanks to a great friendship between my family and an American family, which dates back to the 60s, I visited the USA a lot when I was a child. Many of my childhood memories were made in California, where we currently live, and we’ve also found quite a few friends here during the past years.
The feeling to call this place home has always been very strong.
When my husband and I got to know each other, my excitement infected him, too, so he initiated the application for the Green Card Lottery. He stayed in the USA for a couple of months during university and always considered it as a second home.
Why did you decide to participate in the Green Card Lottery with The American Dream?
The participation with the help of The American Dream makes everything easier, since all the necessary requirements are being checked. TAD not only makes sure you submit the application correctly but also reminds you of deadlines and saves you a lot of stress.
The transparency and clear processes (customer log-in, participation certificate, notification of results) along with relevant information about following lotteries were very helpful. Our good experience with TAD in the first two years, led to the participation with them the following years (about 6 or 7), as well.
You and your family jumped right into the adventure of moving to America. How did you approach the immigration and what do you consider as most important when immigrating as a family?
When we received the winning notification, our first thought was “SPAM!”. Only at a second look we noticed that we really won this time! Later we realized that winning in the lottery only means, that you can apply for the Green Card but there is no guarantee that you will receive it in the end. The following couple of months were very tense until we got the invitation to the interview.
The Premium Service helped a lot getting through this time and lower the level of tension.
It was important to us to not do anything until we hold our passports with the approved diversity visa in our hands. We only told our closest family and friends about it.
As soon as we got our passports back, everything happened quickly: Three days later, my husband and I quit our jobs and our apartment. We knew that we had to be in the states for the start of term since our son was going to have his first day at school. Consequently, that we had 10 weeks in total from the approved visa until the school enrollment.
Since that day, our life was a rollercoaster. The thesis of the part-time university courses had to be finished and the final exams were just before our flight. With lots of support of our family, closest friends, colleagues and the courtesy of our employers, we could manage everything in 8 weeks (date of departure).
After the arrival in the States, we had 10 days left until the first day of school. The support of our American family and friends on site made everything easier.
Is there anything families should consider before moving to the USA?
Looking back, we gave away too many of our belongings due to the lack of time. We arrived in the States with seven suitcases and a cargo of 20 boxes. Here we had to buy everything again, which cost a lot of money, as well as time and nerves.
Finding a job had been easier in theory. Since we immigrated in such a short amount of time, we only started searching for jobs when we were in California. Everybody who has more time for the final move should try to create a network via LinkedIn in advance. Maybe adjust the CV to the American style.
In addition, you need lots of nerves and time for the bureaucracy with the US authorities.
How was it to arrive in your new home country and what were the first challenges?
It was incredible to arrive in our new homeland. It took quite a while to realize that there is no flight back this time. :)
A big challenge was to enroll our child with only little knowledge of English in school within the next couple of days. We crafted communication cards, which indicated the most important things in words and pictures (to be thirsty, to go to toilette, to explain that something hurts etc.) for the first weeks of school. It was really helpful that the school welcomes parents to the classroom to assist as volunteers. That allowed us to support our son and solve the communication problems immediately. In addition, public schools are doing a great job in integrating non-native children.
Another huge task for us was to organize certain formalities within the legal timeframe, particularly the American driver’s license and health insurance.
The German driver’s license is valid for only ten days after the immigration, so we were a bit in a rush to organize the Californian license. Unfortunately, you have to do the required exams first and it was hard to get appointments for these in our home town. In the end, it took more than two months until we both had our Californian driver’s license. Until then we had a “Learner’s Permit”, which means you are only allowed to drive if an adult, who is 21 or older and has a Californian driver’s license, is sitting on the passenger’s seat.
Looking back, I think it is easier to arrive in the States, when you already have a prospective job with health care insurance for your family.
What do you like most about your American daily routine? Please describe a typical day in your life.
We live close to our American family, which is nearby the coast. We love driving to the cliff for a few minutes to enjoy the ocean view. Or have spontaneous pizza on the beach. We like the mild climate, the incredible nature, and the taste of fresh fruits and veggies, which are grown nearby.
We enjoy the local mentality, the positive attitude, and the willingness to help others. It is fun to explore something new every day, to broaden your horizon.
Since we live here, we must get up early during the week to be at the pre-school care club at 7 am. Our commute to work is about 1 hour by car each way. That’s why we hope for no traffic jam in the morning. Late afternoon we drive back to school. Afterwards, depending on our mood and the weather, we go watch the sunset at the beach or head back home to enjoy our big garden.
Weekends are fairly varied: Either usual tasks, like admin or housekeeping, or trips around the Monterey Bay or San Francisco Bay – it won’t get boring!
What is your personal experience with the Premium Service of TAD?
We highly appreciated the Premium Service, although we decided on it quite some time after receiving our winner’s notification. We started filling out the necessary forms ourselves, only to notice, that we have far too many questions to do it on our own.
It might be less complicated for a single person with less stages in life. We have already lived abroad, moved around Germany about 15 times and had various occupations. Therefore, it was a huge challenge for us to fill out the forms (DS-260) correctly without any know-how.
It was very calming to be able to exchange with our personal contact at TAD, particularly right before our interview with the US consulate. We knew that we were well prepared and wouldn’t forget anything.
As a The American Dream winner, you had exclusive access to our winner’s forum. Did you find support there in addition to your Premium Service? If so, what kind?
After winning the Green Card, you have many questions. The winner’s forum has been very helpful. Even though I must admit, that we only read everything and did not write any comments. The forum is great, especially the lessons learned of other winners. That is why we plan to write a report of our own experience, too, to give something back.
What would you like to tell those people who are still waiting to win the Green Card?
Hang in there and never lose hope! It’s worth it!
We received lots of warm welcomes from people on the street, in the school or at the shops. In our area, the immigration culture is very present.
To experience this amazing spirit right after turning your own life upside down, was an incredible experience! :)
We would like to warmly thank our Green Card winner Anne and her family and wish them continued success on their USA journey on the west coast.
Your American dream may come true quicker than you think. Check now if you are eligible for participating in the Green Card lottery, too, and make your first step towards your new life!