American immigration is one of the toughest in the world and a US visa is required for any Australians who want to stay longer than 90 days and plan to work there.
I was amongst the lucky few who got the green card lottery visa in 2019, amongst 23 million other applications and only 50,000 are selected. Not all country's submissions are equal and Australians have a 4% chance of scoring one of these.
And if you do get it (congratulations!) and it is the beginning of a 2-year process of the possibility of getting knocked back somewhere along the way. I’m sure a lot of people miss out on processing it for a number of reasons such as:
Not logging online and checking the status
Incorrectly filling out the forms
To submitting the DS-260 Immigration Visa Electronic Application
Not turning up to the interview
Not turning up with the correct paper & following up
There are others more, I’m sure of
After a bunch of paperwork, medical examinations, several police checks, and an interview, I got granted a temporary visa to physically fly to active the card and get the physical card within 90 days of settlement.
So how am I feeling? Surreal. I’m still currently in Sydney and in between film projects, documentaries, and selling all my possessions (or sending it off to St Vinnie’s) and departing with only two luggage, which I’m packing as much gear and equipment that will allow me to continue my work in another country.
My first settlement will be Las Vegas, Nevada where the majority of my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc… reside for about 3 months until I get all my paperwork, social security, driver’s license, gun license (jokes) etc.. sorted. Then, depending on where my skills are required, will travel to either San Francisco, Los Angeles, Texas, etc… to test the waters of the different states.
I’ve lived all my life in Australia. I know every nook and cranny of Fairfield (the wonderful burb I grew up and work in). This is definitely a life milestone and moving a big deal at this point so self-reflection is much needed to make sure you are making the right move.
5 questions to ask yourself if you should move abroad:
What are the impacts of moving to another country?
We can look at the benefits of moving to another country. For me, it's to gain an international career experience (in acting and filmmaking), travel to new places, and experience another culture. I want to expose my acting and filmmaking career to the world’s mecca and see where it takes me. Some challenges I can already identify are the tax complexities, health care system, safety (13th most dangerous country to live in the world).
Are the goals realistic?
Time for a reality check and going back to my list, I will need to ask “will moving abroad actually help me accomplish X?”. For the acting & filmmaking aspect, I believe I will gain more exposure to the industry; the good, bad, and a little ugly, which will inform my choices on what to do next with my career. In Australia, I’ve had 4 years of experience running my own company, and uprooting and settling in the US will be a huge constant learning curve if I want to be at a similar place from my origins. Perhaps, there might be a different demand for my skillsets, more acting roles where I don’t need to wear multiple hats and refine my skillset? It’s a possibility to which I’m open.
Am I running from something?
Definitely no. I would have been content just staying in Fairfield and making local documentaries and the occasional action short films here and there. However, this I know so well, and traveling abroad would bring new learnings and experiences that can funnel back to the home base of Western Sydney.
Can I cope without my support network?
My support network will still be there, on a virtual platform and I’ll have to set up a system on how to keep connecting with all of them. I have the husband by my side so it will be fine. But yes, I will have to build a new support system from scratch and I’m more than happy to do so as I just love connecting with people and sharing what I can offer.
Have I visited the place before moving?
I’ve visited Los Angeles and Las Vegas very briefly in 2010, 2013, and 2016. I know living there is another story, but from what I can see, it looks ok on the outside.
For those who want a shot at entering the Diversity Visa Lottery, the submissions open from October 6, 2021 https://dvprogram.state.gov/ ). The deadline for submissions is November 9, 2021 (a window of a month). I highly recommend applying within the first two weeks of opening to avoid any system crashes as the date comes closer. Application is online and FREE so beware of other websites that ask you to pay an entry fee.
This website is the official go to for me throughout the process of my application: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/diversity-visa-program-entry/diversity-visa-submit-entry1.html