Green Card: Check! ✅
After a long and rocky journey, I finally got my Green Card!
Moving to America has been my biggest dream for as long as I can think and it finally came true.
It all started in 2017 when I met with a friend of mine in Germany (my native country). He happens to be a U.S. Citizen and we talked a lot about the United States and my intentions of moving there.
As it turned out, my options were quite limited in regards to PERMANENTLY moving there. Basically the only options were to either sign up on Tinder and find somebody to marry me or to play the Green Card lottery. The first option was, of course, a joke.
So I signed up for the Green Card lottery the next day, knowing that the chance of winning is rather small and I probably shouldn’t bank on it.
That was in November 2017.
As weird as it might sound, I just knew that it would work and I wouldn’t allow any other outcome. It didn’t even cross my mind what I would do if I wouldn’t win the lottery. In fact, I was already planning on how I am going to proceed after winning the lottery.
In February 2018, I founded my first American company, Millennial Achievers LLC. I did that as a part of my preparations for moving to the United States… before I even got any kind of confirmation if I would even get the chance to move to the U.S.
After months of waiting, I got an email from my office in New York saying that I got mail from the IRS. I knew it would be my EIN (Employer Identification Number) that I would need to set up a bank account for my new company. After a few calls with Bank of America and Chase, I went ahead and booked a flight to New York. My mission was to set up the bank account, meet friends in NYC and fly back to Germany after a week. It was only 3 days ahead of my flight that my mother pointed out that the Green Card lottery drawing would take place while I am in NYC.
A few days later I flew to New York and did all the things I said I would.
Then arguably one of the most important days of my life came.
May 15, 2018.
The day of the lottery drawing.
The nervousness was unreal. The air in my hotel room in Koreatown was thick and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
12 PM EST. The results were online.
To check the results, you have to sign in to the DV Lottery website.
I had trouble signing in and figured it might be because probably ALL of the 22.4 MILLION people who played the lottery in 2017 were trying to figure out if their lives would change forever.
30 minutes had passed and I still couldn’t sign in. At that point, my friends and family started being concerned because they knew the draw would be at noon and they still had not received a text or a call from me.
I called my mother and while we talked about her day at work, I kept refreshing the page. After about another half hour, it finally worked. I was signed in.
I saw the Department of State seal and the following letter:
I was euphoric like I’ve never been before. My biggest dream was about to come true!!!
The first thing I did after FaceTiming all my friends and family was filing a few documents necessary to proceed in the Green Card process.
After I got that done, I went to the Brooklyn Bridge to see the Statue of Liberty. I still had not fully processed what just happened. I was about to become a Lawfully Permanent Resident of the United States of America!
The next day I flew back to Germany and immediately started preparing my move. I dissolved my German company, transferred all clients from Ad First Sight UG to Millennial Achievers LLC and continued doing lots of research on how the Green Card process works.
At that point, all I was waiting for was KCC (Kentucky Consular Center) to send me an email requesting further documents, such as a birth certificate, police report, etc.
The Green Card lottery has a limited amount of Visas available, which means that they could technically run out of Green Cards before you even get your interview. It’s important to prepare all your documents before they even ask you for them so that you can submit your documents as soon as they request them.
I was waiting for months, always closely monitoring the most recent DV lottery statistics.
May 20, 2019 – 6:11 am
One year after I was selected for further processing, I finally got the email from KCC requesting the documents.
May 20, 2019 – 6:29 am
The wait continued…
On June 17, 2019, I received an email with my interview appointment!
At that point, the preparations went into the final stage as my move to the USA was now imminent. I sold all my stuff, met with friends for one last time, had several farewell parties and started processing the fact, that not only will my biggest dream come true and a new life is about to start, my old life was also about to end. It was an awkward feeling, a mixture of many emotions. But to be honest, I was thrilled about the fact that I finally had my interview appointment.
August 5, 2019 – 10:30 am.
Consulate General of the United States of America, Frankfurt, Germany.
The day has finally come. The grand finale. The end game. The day that would decide my fate. Saying that I was nervous would be an understatement.
I was excited, anxious, nervous… but also determined to finally get the Green Card!
My mother and I had traveled to Frankfurt a day earlier and stayed in a hotel close to the Consulate. I put on my finest suit and started heading over to the U.S. Consulate.
I remember that I got EXTREMELY excited once I spotted the first American license plate on one of the cars and a sign with the Great Seal.
After going through the security checkpoint, I entered the Consulate and my first stop was at Window 22.
Every applicant for an immigrant visa has to pay the visa fee at Window 22. After I paid, I was asked to sit down and wait for my number to be called.
Normally the entire interview process is supposed to take 2-3 hours.
After about 2 1/2 hours my number was called and I met with a caseworker. The caseworker’s job is to check your documents and to make sure that you meet the qualifications for the visa you’re applying for. He claimed that the Affidavit of Support that I submitted was not valid for my visa class.
There are two different types of Affidavit of Supports. The one I submitted is for DV (Diversity Visa = Green Card Lottery), SB (Returning Resident Aliens) and K1/K3 (Fiancé) applicants ONLY.
In fact, the website of the U.S. Consulate Frankfurt specifically requests that Affidavit of Support.
After I explained the difference to the caseworker, he said that he would need to ask a supervisor about that but was almost sure I wouldn’t get the Green Card because of that.
While I was still pretty confident that I submitted the correct form, I got very nervous. What you have to know is that you can’t bring any electronic devices into the Consulate, which means I couldn’t do a quick Google search to make sure I am right or anything. I couldn’t even text my mom to ask her to bring in any kind of other documents…
I was still sitting in the waiting area when I saw four men standing around my caseworker’s desk, heavily arguing with him. They then shut down his counter and he went somewhere… I never saw him again.
After a total wait of about five hours, they turned off the lights in the waiting area, the janitor was cleaning the lobby, most counters were closed at this point and out of all approximately 200 applicants, I was only one out of three other applicants left waiting in the lobby.
After another hour, I was now the only person left. I was just sitting there, heavily sweating, completely alone. The only counter that was still open was unoccupied. Except for a few guards, there was nobody.
Finally, my number was called for the actual interview. My whole body was shaking when I walked up to the counter.
The consular officer who was conducting my interview turned out to be extremely polite and she kept apologizing for the long wait. She said that she looked over my documents, it all looks good and she didn’t know either what her colleague (the caseworker) had to criticize about the Affidavit of Support that I submitted.
After a rather short interview I finally heard the magic words: “Congratulations. Welcome to the United States!“.
We talked for a few more minutes, mostly about how crazy our days were and how glad we will be once we’re home. I then left the Consulate and met my mom.
She was waiting in front of the Consulate for the whole +6 hours!!!
We went back to the hotel, I changed into something more comfortable and we hopped into the car to drive downtown.
We celebrated by eating at my favorite burger restaurant: FIVE GUYS!
Afterward, we started heading back to Braunschweig and met my father midway for a late-night snack.
The following days were filled with getting my affairs in order and waiting for the UPS truck to deliver my visa package, consisting of my passport and a sealed envelope.
August 29, 2019 – 10:38 am
Flight #DL107 FRA-JFK
It was finally time to board the plane to New York. My parents drove me to the airport and we said our final goodbyes. It got way too emotional, in a positive way.
Delta (my favorite airline) had a special surprise for me! I got to fly Delta One (Business Class) on this special flight. Click here to read more about the flight.
I arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, cleared customs and officially immigrated to the United States.
After I re-checked my bags for my flight to Indiana, my friend Lyla Illing was waiting for me at the SkyPriority counter to personally welcome me to the United States and to congratulate me on achieving my biggest dream.
I then boarded my flight to IND (Click here to read more).
My friend John, who played a key role in the Green Card process, picked me up from the airport and it was done.
I was officially a Lawfully Permanent Resident of the United States of America.
Thanks to everyone who supported me over the last few years.
I am eternally grateful.