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What is the DV Lottery?

The US government makes available around 55,000 Diversity Visa's for applicants who meet strict requirements from countries that have low immigration rates.

The Diversity Visa gives successful applicants permanent residency in the United States, also known as a green card.

My Story

After missing the registration period for the DV Lottery in 2011, I waited and waited for the next registration period to open the following October, 2012.

I applied early in October, 2012 (yes, that long ago) via the online registration portal. Then the wait. The wait until May 1, 2013 when the portal would re-open for applicants to check if they were randomly selected for further processing.

As an optimist I was feeling confident about my chances, although the odds were against me, around 125,000 in 13 million applicants.  When you really break it down, in the past the Oceanic region has only received around 2000 allocated visas, applicants who are selected but have higher numbers still sometimes miss out. I'm sure you can see, slim. 

They select more applicants than there are visas available to allow for people who do not pursue their application or become ineligible. Being successful does not guarantee a green card, obviously I was over the moon however cautious I still may not actually get the green card.

Applicants are allocated a case number. Each month the government releases a bulletin of the numbers that are 'current' for processing. The lower your number the sooner you will be interviewed. Oh and if you do not get interviewed before September 30, sorry, you will have to apply again.

My number was in the low 600s so I was feeling good that my interview would be well before the September cut off. 

Mid December, 2013 I was notified that my interview was scheduled for February 2014. Oh my goodness, this is actually happening.

I had already posted off my life history to the Consulate in Kentucky to process. Success so far, they had accepted all my paperwork. Finding someone to take American sized passport photos was a nightmare! I had to renew my passport, order a new police check, get more photos, book in for a medical and gather a million documents to take with me.

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I had been feeling super nervous about the medical. Not for any good reason, just general nerves about the whole process coming together.

My appointment was in Melbourne at 11am, early February 2014. P.s. it costs a small fortune.

I attended my appointment with all the documents - immunization history, passport photos, case details and passport. I got there early, I figured there would be a stack of paper work, I was right. There were a mixture of US documents and documents for the medical practice records. They asked about my general health, criminal history and to confirm my name and date of birth about 50 times. They attached a photo to the US medical forms, one to the x-ray request and one to the pathology request. I handed my documents back to reception and waited to be called.

The doctor was running around 45 minutes late, I was feeling so nervous, my heart was beating out of my chest. Finally I heard my name called, I stood up and followed the doctor to the exam room.

We sat down and reviewed the forms I had previously completed in the waiting room. Your supposed to have your current passport, however mine was still in the post. It wasn't a problem, I took my old one plus my drivers license, that satisfied the ID requirement. The doctor then completed the immunization document and asked me at least 20 questions about my health and past history. They ask things like; hospitalizations, family history of illness/disease, surgeries, mental health, current medications. I didn't need any immunizations, so that was a win.

Next the doctor checked my mouth, ears and eyes. After this I sat on the exam table and the doctor examined my chest, back, lungs, heart, armpits, arms and legs and down below, with a nurse present. That was it. The whole process took around 20 minutes. I waited to have the chest x-ray and blood test, everything was conveniently located in the practice. The whole medical was over in a matter of 45 minutes.

Relief!

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My interview was scheduled for 9.30 on a Tuesday (February 18, 2014) morning at the US Consulate General in Sydney. The day before I flew to Sydney, checking a thousand times I had all my documents right. I was feeling so sick all day from nerves, thinking about the interview. I knew it wasn't going to be too tough, I had read about others experiences being just like a car licensing office, but still! I went to bed around midnight and woke up every hour until 5 am. I decided to just stay awake and get ready for the big day.

Fast forward to 9.15am Tuesday morning I was about to take the lift up to the 10th floor. I followed the signs and walked around to the US Consulate. I was greeted by an officer that asked why I was there. He then asked if I had anything metal on me, luckily I didn't and walked through the security check (just like the airport). I then took a seat and waited to be called.

Next, I was called by another officer to take the lift to the 59th floor where the actual consulate is. When the lift doors opened I was welcomed by a mahogany wall with an American flag and a picture of Barack Obama. Yay, this was getting so exciting. I walked over to the desk and was buzzed into the office by another officer, who told me to press the button for visas and take a seat.

I waited for what felt like forever, I took a book, but I was too busy taking it all in to read it. I wasn't feeling nervous anymore, purely excited and anxious for them to hurry up! I could hear many people being interviewed and smiled back after they had just been told they were approved for a visa. It was a great feeling. On a side note, I dressed professionally, I wanted to show I was serious, although there were other people wearing jeans and sandals waiting too.

Finally, my number was called. I walked to the desk and the lady asked for my documents. She then gave me a slip and I went to pay the visa fee of $330USD ($363AUD). Then I had to sit and wait again for what felt like another hour (but was realistically about 20 minutes). I was called, to another desk this time for the actual interview. My interviewer was a lovely American man, straight away he said "Congratulations on winning the lottery" - that was the best feeling. He asked me to raise my right hand, to take oath that everything I provided and would say was true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

He asked "Why do you want to live in the States?", "Where are you going to go when you arrive?", "Where are you at with your studies?", "When was your last trip to the States?", and that was it. It was very casual and conversational. He joked about the snow and that I was taking 'a leap of faith' as I had never visited the States. He asked me to sign a document and took each fingerprint electronically, handed me a slip with my name on it and then looked at me smiling and said "Your visa is approved today, good luck in the United States".  I smiled and walked away.

So it was all over by 10.30 am. I was so happy, relieved and excited. Obviously I needed a wine (yes, at 10 am), my friend and I went off to treat ourselves and bask in the best moment of my life.

On Thursday that same week my passport was returned with my visa. Now I am ready to go!

A huge thank you to fellow Aussie and lottery winner Adrian Crawford for all the advice, encouragement and help. I am happy to have made a new friend! You can check his blog out here.

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I flew into LAX on a direct flight from Melbourne, Australia. 15hours on the plane was super uncomfortable and I barely got a blink of sleep, excitement perhaps?! As we started our descent into LA I was soooo excited 1). to finally be in the US and 2). I could see the Hollywood sign from the window. The fact that it was summer helped too!

Seated at the very back of the plane (which was huge) the wait to exit took forever. Finally, following the crowd I made my way to the immigration line. Before this, being greeted with a sign 'Welcome to the United States'. 

I am called to the immigration desk. The officer was very serious and stern looking, certainly not helping with my nerves. He asked for my passport, looked over my details and began to ask general questions about the nature of my trip. He took digital fingerprints, a photograph and my Immigration package sent from the US consulate in Sydney, the same one that read 'DO NOT OPEN'. He stared at me blankly as if to say what is this and what do you want me to do with it. I explained and he looked at me, semi-smirk and said 'lucky'. He didn't require my x-ray. I also handed him the incoming passenger card given by the airline, he stamped it and handed it back. Then he asked where I was planning to stay and why it was a hotel address, how long my trip was (although semi irrelevant), which states I was going to and what my future plans were. My heart was racing, he was so intimidating, I was excited and nervous at the same time. 

After this, the officer directed me to walk along the path of immigration booths to the end, I had no idea where I was going and continued walking until I reached a tiny sign that read "New Immigrants and Asylees'. I approached the officer at the counter and asked if I was in the right place. Thankfully I was. I was the only person there.

I handed my documents and passport to the officer. I was told to leave my carry on luggage and follow the officer to a desk where I was fingerprinted with ink and required to sign two forms. I sat in the waiting area while my documents were processed. About 5 minutes later I was called to the desk and handed my passport. The officer explained the stamp above my visa indicated that my visa would serve as a temporary green card until the physical one is received in the mail.

A big sigh of relief and I walked down the escalator, the final step of the longest process ever was complete and I was in LA. I walked over to collect my luggage and again followed the masses to customs. The officer there made a joke about me having scorpions in my luggage (no clue what that was about) and collected my declaration. 

And that was it, a rather unspectacular welcome to the US of A.