The grass is greener on the other side


So last Monday Ruth and I trooped off to the USCIS office for our final immigration status change meeting. We weren’t sure what to expect. We had an unusual path to a Green Card as Ruth won the Diversity Lottery (AKA the Green Card Lottery) and not many of these applications get processed a year. The USCIS office in Portland doesn’t process many at all and so it was a learning process for both us and them. Thankfully our lawyer is excellent and she guided us through the process very efficiently.

Many Americans don’t know the Diversity Lottery exists but essentially you enter the lottery and if you win you have the right to apply for a Green Card. They offer a pool of about 50,000 applications every year. The chance of being successful depends on how many people have immigrated from your country. In our case there are few applicants from Australia (and indeed the Oceania region generally) so we knew we stood a good chance of winning. Luckily enough Ruth did win.

Once you’ve won and if you’re already in the United States it’s just a matter of applying for a change of status from our current visas to a Green Card. I say “just a matter of” lightly but in reality the meeting on Monday was the culmination of seven months of paperwork, medical checks, immunizations, photographs, collections of paperwork and a thousand forms completed and redone and checked and rechecked.

The meeting went incredibly smoothly. We were asked a handful of questions (thankfully neither of us are members of a communist party nor have we participated in any acts of genocide) and then we were approved. Our cards are currently in production and we hope to get them shortly. Then in five years (give or take 90 days) if we still live in the US and so desire we can become US citizens. We suspect that’s unlikely. The Green Card gives us the mobility and right to live here which suits our needs.

The major stress reduction for us is now both of us can work anywhere without needing to be sponsored by an employer, we can enter and exit the US using the same protocols as citizens (hopefully no more incredibly long immigration queues) and no more having to leave the country every 2-3 years to renew our visas.

So we’re reasonably excited about getting our Green Cards and now we’re trying to work out what plans we might to make next based on our new status.