For more than 25 years, we have been supporting people on their way to a Green Card. Over 21,000 USA fans have already managed to fulfill their dream of a life in the United States with us. Let us take you on a journey through time and look back at the milestones of The American Dream together.
Take the chance of living in the USA and apply for the official US Green Card Lottery!
When our managing directors Holger Zimmermann and Marcus Sieber founded The American Dream in 1996, they had no idea they would soon be running an international company with tens of thousands of customers a year.
Holger was a business administration student; Marcus studied law. After a stay in the USA, they both had their eye on the Green Card, which the US government had been giving away annually since 1994.
However, the desired immigrant visa was not easy to obtain. Many immigrants needed assistance with the Green Card application, as the US government disqualified Green Card applicants for even the smallest of mistakes. This has not changed until today.
The demand for Green Cards was already high in the early 1990s, but at that time, USA fans only found support in applying at American companies and thus exclusively in English.
The fact that the official US authorities draw 55,000 immigrant visas a year in the Green Card Lottery was hardly known in Europe. Holger and Marcus wanted to change that by founding The American Dream.
After an extensive audit, The American Dream was the first private company to receive government approval for emigration counseling under §1 of the Emigration Protection Act in 2000.
Did you know that in the first year of the Green Card Lottery, all you had to do was write your name, date of birth, and contact information on a piece of paper and send it to the National Visa Center in the USA? No photo, no family information or education - incredible, but true!
As the years went by, the requirements became stricter. Until digitalization in 2003, we still personally delivered hundreds of last-minute applications to the USA every year to fulfill the participation guarantee!
The envelope used played a key role: not only did it have to be a specific size, but the country of birth also had to be written above the sender. Depending on this, it then had to be sent to a particular ZIP code. This is how the US authorities implemented the Green Card quotas per continent. Nowadays, this is hardly imaginable.
After the very comprehensive change to an online application, our daily work routine changed significantly.
Time and again, the ups and downs of US politics made headlines. Laws, rules, and hurdles for the Green Card Lottery came and went. Those who weren't experts quickly lost track and risked disqualification.
Participants who qualified for the Green Card Lottery yesterday could fail to meet the requirements today (for example, while the passport rule of 2019 was still in place). Besides, there were repeated fears that every Green Card Lottery might be the last one.
Donald Trump even planned to abolish the Green Card Lottery. However, his attempt has not only failed but could now even turn into the opposite: US President Joe Biden is considering a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which could soon mean 80,000 Green Cards drawn in the lottery instead of the current 55,000.
Regardless of the outcome of these reform plans, the Green Card Lottery will continue to ensure multicultural immigration and diversity in the United States each year. We will stay by your side - as we have for the past 25 years - and continue to keep you up-to-date.
How does anything start? With an idea! At first it is only a slight inkling that begins to take form with time and patience. The longer you reflect on the idea, the more palpable the idea becomes until you finally do it. That’s how The American Dream was born!
What is today an international company with tens of thousands of customers a year (see statistics) started as a student project led by the banking and business student Holger Zimmermann and the law student Marcus Sieber. At that time, the annual Green Card Lottery in the United States was all the rage and the idea was: why shouldn’t America fans in Germany and across the globe also have the chance to try their luck in the lottery?
Since the Green Card Lottery was not well known throughout Germany and Europe, the two student friends began to pass out flyers at the Freie Universität Berlin (university) to find out how interested people were in getting professional help with the lottery in Germany. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and in the first year they submitted hundreds of applications. Among them were even a few dozen lucky Green Card winners.
The requirement to present a passport to participate in the Green Card Lottery was lifted by a US federal judge in 2022. The passport rule had only been introduced by former President Trump in 2019 and had excluded many people from the popular lottery. Learn how the repeal came about and why it's good news.
It was hard work from then on – “We work hard for your dreams”. Every year there was a growing response and more applicants. Every year there were more winners and a dream came true – the American dream.
Soon, it became obvious that the project would turn into a major business company. A closed corporation was founded in Germany and a call center was established in 1997 to handle hundreds of calls a day, seven days a week. Even though the company had a website, applications back then were not submitted over the internet. At the start of the company’s history, the U.S. authorities required all applications to be mailed in. To do this, the company set up an office in the Empire State Building and the company’s owners personally carried over around 50,000 Green Card applications to American soil every year. From there the applications were submitted to the National Visa Service. Every customer then received a written and individual certificate confirming the receipt of their application by the USPS. This procedure changed in 2003 when the U.S. government introduced the requirement that all applications be submitted digitally.
We make teenager dreams come true: From now on, The American Dream will donate three scholarships for a high school year in the USA every year. Students between the ages of 15 and 17 can apply for these "The American Dream Scholarships" worth a total of €15,000.
The Green Card program increasingly gained publicity in Germany as well as in Austria and Switzerland because of The American Dream.
Billboards could be seen all over Germany: on advertising columns and at bus stops. The company advertised on television with videotexts on popular German TV channels (RTL, Sat1, Pro7, ZDF, ORF, Kabel1) and even to this day, customers are still putting their trust in The American Dream. Even a television commercial was produced in 1999, which was then broadcasted on all popular TV channels. The leading part of the motorcyclist was performed by the famous actor Bjarne Maedel (known from the German TV series "Stromberg").
Effective June 2021, Diana Bohlinth will become the new CEO of The American Dream - US GreenCard Service GmbH, forming a dual leadership team with founder and CEO Holger Zimmermann.
Our former CEO Marcus Sieber will remain with The American Dream as a shareholder.
As The American Dream became an increasingly well-known brand name, it decided to expand its services to meet growing customer demand for U.S. immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services. In the year 2000, a department for handling U.S. short-term and long-term stays was established to do this.
Since then The American Dream has supported innumerable individuals and businesses in sending employees to the USA, in establishing branches and enterprises in the USA as well as in supporting travelers and Green Card winners. Take a look at our company statistics here.
With the relaunch of our website, we have also introduced our new photo tool. This makes the registration for the Green Card Lottery even easier.
The intelligent software is integrated into the registration process. It automatically removes photo backgrounds, adjusts the image size, and controls the correct head size, position, and image resolution.
A new kind of customer account also makes life easier for you: you receive automatic notifications when action is required, and you can always retrieve important documents such as invoices or your submission certificate. Furthermore, you can keep track of your data at all times and update it with just a few clicks. The payment process is also simpler and absolutely secure.
As a logical next step, we applied for and received a license. Since the beginning of the year 2000, all staff at The American Dream are government-licensed emigration consultants.
The federal administration in Cologne is responsible for granting this license based on §1 of the German Emigration Act (AuswSG) in the version dated from March 12,2003. This paragraph requires a government license for giving consultations to Germans wishing to emigrate. Even consulting agencies like the Red Cross or Caritas are required to apply for such licenses for the staff who work as emigration consultants. The American Dream was the first private company to be approved for such a license. To this day, there are very few businesses or private persons who have been approved.
As visa-free travel to the USA is becoming more in demand, we now offer our assistance with the ESTA application. The ESTA Service from The American Dream grants the following benefits:
The first copy of our book, “The American Dream – Immigration with a Green Card or a Visa” was first published in June 2000. In it we share our knowledge gathered through our many years of U.S. consultation experience.
From the very first day our motto has been: "We work hard for your dreams" and our customers have profited from our many years of experience. The book provides plenty of information about general life in the USA as well as detailed information about applying for a U.S. visa. The most current edition of the book has over 560 pages and has been a bestseller for people interested in making the USA their home. At the moment, the book is only available in the German language.
The team of The American Dream thanks all customers, partners, subscribers, readers, and USA fans for 25 years of loyalty! Without you, we wouldn't be where we are now. Here's to the next 25!
In 2001, a cooperation with Burger King drastically increased the prominence of the Green Card Program and the popularity of the company The American Dream.
Burger King advertised for The American dream in branches, commercials and billboards all across Germany and the positive response was astounding. Additionally, The American Dream was allowed to send their customers Burger King restaurant coupons as well as letting them know that they could pick up applications for the Green Card Lottery directly at the fast food restaurants. Due to the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City in 2001 and the resulting increase in security measures, the special cooperation ended early – but not before generating a record number of new customers.
A month late, the US Department of State released the 55,000 winners of the annual Green Card Lottery on June 6th, 2020. The stricter eligibility requirements have had a positive impact on the chances of winning for those who meet the new requirements. In addition to personal data and a biometric photo, valid passport information has also been required since 2019.
This has been a problem for applicants from Eastern Europe in particular. While around two-thirds of EU citizens have a valid passport, the figure for Russia, Ukraine, and Albania is just under ten percent in each case. However, there are huge numbers of applicants for the US Green Card from these countries.
In addition to the Green Card Lottery, the business expanded into U.S. visa consultations.
Many well-known companies and also private customers have put their trust in the experts in The American Dream Visa team.
Green Card Lottery photo requirements have become more rigorous in 2019. The changes primarily affect the age of submitted photos to ensure a clear recognition of the participant.
Since the formation of The American Dream in 1996, nearly half of the photos submitted had to be re-requested due to the strict Green Card photo rules. Our double application check protects you from disqualification, but the photo submission process has always been time-consuming.
Since 2021, our Green Card Lottery Photo Tool saves you a lot of time when submitting your Green Card photo.
The American Dream moves to an advanced IT-platform.
In addition to the continued personal service, The American Dream has made many of its customer services and helpful information available online. In 2003, the U.S. government made changes to the Green Card Lottery which resulted in the biggest event of the company’s history. The new U.S. requirement stipulated that all applications and photos be submitted in digital form. No longer would the owners need to go to New York City to submit thousands of post-marked applications. Instead, The American Dream had to digitize over 100,000 original photos and applications in only two months. This task was a challenge, but successfully completed. The company even attracted customers who are uncomfortable with digital media.
At this time, many anonymous Green Card agencies appeared online. Looking back on the company’s long history, years of expert experience, thousands of satisfied customers, and relationship with the U.S. authorities, it is no wonder that people can put their trust in us. We did master this challenge successfully and every year we continue to send customers their official participation certificate (Electronic Submission Certificate) from the U.S. Department of State.
In July 2019, the US Department of State introduced a new rule for the Green Card Lottery: a valid passport is now required in addition to the already existing mandatory information.
As a result, the number of participants worldwide has dropped significantly. This also means that the chances for USA fans with a valid passport have increased significantly.
The American Dream moves to new offices in Berlin, Germany. More space for continued growth and new projects.
The need for more space, due to the growing demand for more U.S. visa services, was the impetus behind the move in 2006. Our customer service agents are busy handling questions over the telephone and via e-mails, but you can always make an appointment to visit us in our office in Berlin, Germany.
Ex-President Donald Trump first called for abolishing the Green Card Lottery after an attack in New York on October 31st, 2017.
He desired to switch from the characteristic element of chance of the lottery to a performance-based selection of US immigrants.
The result: Trump was able to tighten the entry requirements two years later, but he was not able to abolish the lottery.
In 2007 The American Dream expanded its international business by cooperating temporarily and, in the end, taking over the company "National Visa Service" from the U.S. attorney Mark Jacobsen.
The National Visa Service was the first Green Card agency worldwide. It was founded in 1996, the same year as The American Dream. The company had a good reputation being owned by a U.S. immigration lawyer and this company’s reliability and reputation was important to The American Dream. Before the take-over. The National Visa Service had already handled around 5,000 Green Card winners and established an active and loyal client base mainly in the USA and in Africa. Therefore, The American Dream is still the market leader in U.S. Green Card services today.
For the 20th anniversary of The American Dream, there were boat tours in Berlin and New York with numerous Green Card winners. We also raffled off a 20-day USA trip for two people.
Since 2008, The American Dream has been a large presence at fairs and events about the USA, U.S. visas, employee transfers to the USA and similar topics.
We have been attending the "Zukunft Personal" in Cologne on a regular basis. In 2009, we also participated in a two-day seminar about employee assignment to the USA which is sponsored by the famous "management circle" event team. Furthermore, we are a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham). In previous years, we even sponsored the welcoming event for the U.S. ambassador on July 4th. On July 4th, 2009, we were again the main sponsor for the 4th of July 2009 program. At this event, we celebrated the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Berlin, Germany.
In nationwide cooperation between The American Dream and Dunkin' Donuts, we created USA Donuts. The "Stars & Stripes" pastries were called "The American Dream Donut," "Peanut Party," or "Marshmallow Magic.“
The cooperation was rounded off by a joint raffle in which a flight to Los Angeles and much more was given away.
You'd rather not see pictures of the first "The American Dream Donut Competitive Eating." ;)
In 2009 we completely redesigned and launched our homepage www.americandream.de.
Our main concern was creating clear and informative content for easy browsing. At this time, the comprehensive FAQs for U.S. visa and Green Card services was launched. We published more than 1,500 webpages and created a webpage for our growing international customers: www. green-card.com in English and 8 other languages. Moreover, we introduced internal blogs and blogs from our customers as well as a quiz based on the American TV-show “Who wants to be a millionaire?”. The new website contains travel information, a Facebook fanpage and other interesting USA tidbits. More than 80,000 people also subscribe to our free monthly newsletter which is also available on our website.
The American Dream was reinforced in 2015 with the hiring of additional US visa experts.
As Germany's largest service agency for US visas, twelve visa consultants were already serving more than 350 companies worldwide each year at that time.
That year, The American Dream's entire team already included 20 employees. There were also reinforcements for our Social Media accounts.
Here, we would like to take the time to thank all our customers who have been by our side all throughout these exciting times – and will hopefully continue their journey with us. We also want to thank all of our team members since 1996 and our loyal business partners for their support.
As well as the idea of the “American dream” which can still come true at any time!
Since the responsibility for the Emigration Protection Act was completely transferred to the Federal Office of Administration, we went through a new approval process.
In December, the team of The American Dream - US GreenCard Service GmbH as well as The American Dream - US Visa Service GmbH received the new unlimited approval for emigration consulting according to §1 AuswSG in the version of March 12th, 2013.
This replaced the authorization which had already been obtained in 2000.
It was finally time in 2012. The company The American Dream is no longer enough.
The demand for more U.S. visa services led The America Dream to establish a sister company: The American Dream - USA Services GmbH in 2012. The managing director of the “US Visa Service” is Alexander Kos. Through the restructuring of The American Dream, customers can get their expert and professional support more quickly. The timing could have not been more perfect since there is a growing number of DAX companies putting their trust in the experts at The American Dream – US Visa Service GmbH.
In autumn 2013, the company once again required more work space for the growing company. The American Dream currently sits in Berlin-Charlottenburg in a building complex which was once home to the Berlin brewing company “Engelhardt”. Our team of experts is here for you and your visa needs every day in Berlin-Charlottenburg, in the Danckelmannstr. 9.
In 2013, the company spun off its "US GreenCard Service" division, which to this day has primarily been responsible for serving customers in the annual US Green Card Lottery.
The spin-off allows us to focus even more effectively on making the dreams of USA fans around the world come true.
Now there are three companies with the name "The American Dream":
In the year 2013, The American Dream expanded its services into the sector “US GreenCard Service” to primarily provide support for the growing number of yearly Green Card Lottery customers.
With this expansion, we saw the chance to concentrate our efforts into making our customers’ dreams come true and provide more effective support for USA-fans worldwide. For us there are now three “The American Dream” groups: There is the holding name The American Dream – USA Services GmbH and the two specialized companies The American Dream - US GreenCard Service GmbH and The American Dream - US Visa Service GmbH.
Our rapid growth required us to move to new, spacious business premises in the fall of 2013. The team of 14 USA experts at that time worked in Berlin-Charlottenburg at Danckelmannstr. 9 since then.
Starting January 1st, 2014, the federal administration took over complete jurisdiction for the German Emigrant Protect Act. Through this change, the federal administration required new tests to be done for licensing purposes. In December 2013, the team from The American Dream - US GreenCard Service GmbH as well as The American Dream - US Visa Service GmbH were approved for an unlimited license for their U.S. emigration consultants according to §1 of the German Emigration Act (AuswSG) in the version dated on March 12, 2013. This new license replaced the one from the year 2000, making The American Dream one of the longest-running government-licensed U.S. consulting agencies!
We are looking forward to providing you with the most competent and qualified service.
In 2012, one company was no longer enough, and US Visa Services was founded. As Managing Director, Alexander Kos headed the business unit from now on.
Since this restructuring, we can now be there for our US visa customers even faster and better. The decision came at the right time because as early as 2012, more and more DAX-listed companies were placing their trust in the expertise of The American Dream - US Visa Service GmbH.
The American Dream corporate group is strengthening its team of U.S. experts. As Germany’s largest agency for U.S. visas, our 12-person team of expert visa consultants work with more than 350 companies worldwide and process around 1,800 visa applications a year. The American Dream has about 20 employees working to make your dream come true.
When it comes to social media, The American Dream is keeping with the times and has hired a full-time expert just for social media marketing. Up-to-date on all the trends, you will find us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and more – we love staying in contact with our customers! With more than 100,000 Facebook fans, the American dream still rings true to many today.
After a highly successful cooperation with Burger King a few years ago, The American Dream turned to the more sweeter side of life! In the fall of 2015, Dunkin’ Donuts sold donuts created by The American Dream all across Germany. Customers were delighted by the classic “stars and stripes” design as well as totally American creations like “peanut party” and “marshmallow magic”. Under the motto, “America in every bite”, people could sink their teeth into a sweet dream. During the cooperation, customers had the chance to win a flight to Los Angeles as well as one of 100 cool The American Dream sunglasses. Finally, we sponsored the first “The American Dream Donut Sport-Eating Competition”.
The American Dream thanks all customers and employees for their loyalty and support.
In fall 2016, The American Dream celebrated 20 years in business and twenty years in business, of course, required a celebration in style! On August 24th, The American Dream celebrated with many of its lucky Green Card winners on a boat tour in Berlin. In September they had all hands on-deck again as new and previous Green Card winners sailed along the Hudson River and past the Statue of Liberty in New York City!
In 2009 we completely redesigned our website. Our main concern was creating clear and informative content for easy browsing.
At this time, the comprehensive FAQs for US visa and Green Card services were launched. We published more than 1,500 web pages and created websites for our growing international customers in English and eight other languages.
Moreover, we introduced blogs from our customers as well as a quiz based on the American TV show “Who wants to be a millionaire?”. The new website contains travel information, social media fan pages, and other interesting USA tidbits. More than 80,000 people also subscribe to our free monthly newsletter.
Looking back on the long history of "The American Dream", we can proudly say that we have accomplished a lot. We have never lacked in inspiration or demand as we work hard to make our customers’ dreams come true. We will continue to concentrate on international cooperation, keeping our website informative and up-to-date, making our online customer accounts easily accessible and convenient and doing our best to make our customers’ dreams come true in the Green Card Lottery. Our team of professional experts will work hard to build a growing base of private and business customers for U.S. visas. We are looking forward to more exciting projects! Always true to our motto: We work hard for your dreams!
THE AMERICAN DREAM Team
Since 2008, The American Dream has been a large presence at fairs and events about the USA, US visas, employee transfers to the USA and similar topics.
We have been attending the "Zukunft Personal" in Cologne on a regular basis. In 2009, we also participated in a two-day seminar about employee assignment to the USA which is sponsored by the famous "management circle" event team.
Furthermore, we are a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham). In previous years, we even sponsored the welcoming event for the US ambassador on July 4th. On July 4th, 2009, we were again the main sponsor for the 4th of July 2009 program. At this event, we celebrated the opening of the new US embassy in Berlin, Germany.
In 2007, The American Dream expanded its international business through the cooperation and eventual acquisition of the company "National Visa Service" of US immigration lawyer Mark Jacobsen.
National Visa Service, also founded in 1996, had already served over 5,000 Green Card winners before and had built up an active and loyal customer base primarily in the USA and Africa. In many African countries, National Visa Service and The American Dream are still the US Green Card sector's market leaders.
In a US Senate vote, the immigration reform bill backed by President Bush failed to win a majority. Among other things, the bill would have made it more difficult for family members to join immigrants and abolished the Green Card Lottery.
The famous German news magazine FOCUS organized a meeting of our winners in New York in the record Green Card year of 2007. Afterward, there was a big report on The American Dream winners, including the magazine cover.
Due to the increased demand for visa services by business customers, we needed new premises in 2006. As a result, we moved into an entire floor in a beautiful old building in Berlin-Kreuzberg.
In 2003, the US government decided to digitize the Green Card Lottery, which resulted in the most significant change in our company's history: Instead of sending in a paper data sheet with real passport photos of all family members, there was now an online application with digital images.
In record time, the "Dream Team" digitized 150,000 passport photos and submitted a digital Green Card application for each customer.
Instead of the US Postal Service's paper submission certificate, we now send our customers an official, individual screen printout from the U.S. State Department as an "Electronic Submission Certificate".
In addition to the Green Card Lottery, The American Dream's US visa consulting division for non-immigrants was established in 2002.
Many well-known companies and private clients now rely on the expertise of The American Dream visa team.
Due to the tremendous awareness of the brand name "The American Dream", we received an increasing number of inquiries about temporary stays in the USA. For this purpose, a separate department for advising and obtaining non-immigrant visas was established in 2000.
Initially, two employees worked here. Today, there are six full-time visa consultants. The American Dream has thus assisted countless companies with branch and company formations, employee assignments, USA travel, and Green Card procedures.
At the beginning of 2000, the employees of The American Dream were licensed as state-approved immigration consultants.
The basis of the license is §1 of the Emigration Protection Act (AuswSG) in the version of March 12th, 2013, which stipulates that a state license is required to advise people wishing to immigrate from Germany. Even large charitable institutions such as the counseling centers of the Red Cross or Caritas must obtain this approval for employees who work in immigration counseling.
The team members of The American Dream were the only people working in the private sector who received the license after passing the extensive examination. Even today, there are very few individuals who have received this special government recognition.
In 2001, participation forms for the Green Card Lottery were available in all German Burger King restaurants for a while. This cooperation, which also included a poster campaign and online appearances, enabled us to dramatically increase awareness of the lottery. In addition, all our customers received Burger King vouchers.
In June 2000, we published the first edition of our 560-page book „Der amerikanische Traum - Mit GreenCard oder Visum in die USA."
The guidebook in the German language - now available in its fifth edition - passes on bundled knowledge from our many years of experience in USA consulting.
Never before has an "Immigrant's Handbook" with so much detailed knowledge been published in Germany. That is why our guidebook quickly became a bestseller.
In Germany, but also in Austria and Switzerland, the Green Card Lottery quickly became known through The American Dream. Billboards and information posters were hung on advertising pillars, bus stops, and large screens.
Ads in the Teletext of all major German and Austrian TV stations (RTL, Sat1, Pro7, ZDF, ORF, and Kabel1) also attracted many new interested parties. In 1999, a TV commercial starring German actor Bjarne Mädel (Tatortreiniger, Stromberg) was launched.
Our motto: "We work hard for your dreams!"
It quickly became apparent that our project would grow into a larger company. We founded a “GmbH" and commissioned a call center to answer our customers' questions 24 hours a day. By 1997, we were already receiving several hundred calls daily.
At that time, the US government required each application to be sent in by mail. To do this, employees of The American Dream flew to New York every year during the application period.
In their "luggage" were up to 50,000 individually labeled letters each year, which were then sent domestically to the National Visa Center. Each customer received a personal certificate of submission from the United States Postal Service (USPS).
The American Dream office in New York City is still available to international customers today.
What is now an international company with tens of thousands of customers a year was initially created as a study project by Holger Zimmermann, a banker and business administration student, and Marcus Sieber, a law student. From longer stays in the USA, they knew that an annual draw for Green Cards had been taking place in the United States since 1994.
American law firms already offered an extensive service for this purpose. In Germany and Europe, however, the Green Card Lottery was largely unknown.
The two student friends learned how great the interest in the Green Card Lottery and a corresponding service would be by displaying flyers at their university. Amazed by the great response, they were able to process several hundred applications in the first year. The American Dream was born!
Just like in the past 25 years, our declared goal is to advise USA fans thoroughly and reliably and support them on their way to the country of their dreams.
Since 2021, we are not only taking care of applications for the Green Card Lottery. After numerous requests from our customers, we now also support them in applying for an ESTA to travel to the USA without a visa!
We work hard for your dreams!