Why did you join the Green Card Lottery?
The first time I came to the USA was in 1996 through a student exchange. After my first week I immediately felt that this was my home - so I wrote my parents the attached postcard saying that I "would love to stay here forever".
I think my very first Green Card Lottery application was in 1998 or 1999 - when I applied with 12 pages of paper documents by mail through "TIA" (This Is America). At the beginning of the 2000s, the following 7 applications were much easier through your The American Dream website. :o)
What was your first reaction after receiving the winning notification?
At my 8th participation in the Green Card Lottery I finally won in May 2014, after I had just fought hard for my E-2 work visa and moved to the USA in February 2014! My mother has received your letter to her address in Germany and left me a voice message on my phone saying that I won... I cried with happiness!!! I saved Mom's voicemail as a video/audio file on my laptop and sometimes I still listen to it. :o))
How did you experience the Green Card application process?
In my case, I didn't fly back to the consulate in Germany to activate my Green Card there, but I was able to make a status adjustment from my E-2 visa to Permanent Resident here in the USA in 2015. The form processing of the i-485 cost almost $ 1000 and was probably as much paperwork as at the consulate, but at least I saved the flight to Germany and had no interview etc. ;o)
As a hot tip I can recommend your book "The American Dream", which I ordered back in 2008 via your website. While I took part in the lottery every year and waited, I had already gained an E-2 work visa thanks to all your information in the book. We Germans have relatively easy chances to work for German companies here in the USA, and it only costs the employer $ 500, which means that the respective company does not have to "sponsor" us for a high fee.
How did your activation trip look like?
There was none :-P I had just moved to the US on an E-2 work visa when I received my winning notification. After that I have done my status adjustment with the USCIS Immigration Service in my dream state Florida. I have lived and worked in Tennessee and Chicago after that (following my love), but since March 2019 I am permanently back in my beloved Florida right on the coast, where I get old and happy with sun, palm trees and beach.
Where do you live now and what are the differences to your everyday life in Germany? What do you like most about living in the USA?
Quality of life and everyday life are very much the same in Germany - but I have to admit that Americans are more sociable than many people in my old home country. I have been back living in my beloved Florida (after Ohio, Tennessee, and Chicago) for half a year now - so I particularly like that there is no winter here. :o)) Only sun, sea and palm trees...
I also like the fact that I was able to rescue a Pitbull Terrier from the street - there is no so-called fighting dog list, which is absurd anyway from my own experience with animal shelter work, because aggression is trained or caused by neglect. Here there were neighboring dogs like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds and even a Collie who attacked my Pitbull and mine didn't even want to bite back because it's peaceful by nature.
Looking back, would you decide to move to the USA again?
Anytime. From my perspective, it wasn't a "dare" at all, but the fulfillment of a dream that had lasted for years. I had gained traumatizing (PTSD) experiences in Germany and England, so emigrating was simply a liberation and relief to finally live in peace in the "Land of Opportunitiy".
Would you recommend The American Dream service to other USA fans?
Definitely. I also recommended it for years. ;o) With your website it was easy to win, just scan in your photo and upload it - that's all! Your book "The American Dream" was also very helpful to successfully apply for an E-2 work visa.
Do you have some advice for future winners?
I'd like to quote Eleanor Roosevelt:
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams".
Renew your Green Card Lottery participation every year and be patient (anticipation). It will work, even if you may have to wait 8 years in the worst case. ;o)