I remember crying during the middle of my US trip. Camp was a dream and as everyone was planning to return to camp the next summer – and as they all lived in the Northern Hemisphere, it was a piece of cake. For me as a Southern Hemisphere resident however, it was right in the middle of semester.
I tried so hard to work around my schedule, pick online subjects, work out how many lab classes I could miss - I tried everything – but it just wasn’t going to work. That’s when my mum asked me why I was doing speech pathology if I didn’t love it. And just like that, within the next hour had applied to be a journalist.
I remember the feeling of anticipation over the next few months, maybe dramatic but I felt as though if I didn’t get in, my life would be over. The same feelings returned over the last two and a bit years when I’ve been waiting for my green card. Would it actually be the end of the world? No – but for me it was all or nothing.
Again with the tears, the last few years has seen me go back and forth to the US and cry everytime I return home. I spend the weeks following my touch-down moody, agitated and somehow on the same confusing websites trying to work out how to get into the country.
And although the queen of research, it was my mum who discovered the Green Card Lottery. A system where the US accepts 50,000 people from all over the world once a year through a lottery system.
But it’s not as simple as puling someone’s name out of a hat. Firstly, there’s only a small window of time that they accept applications each year. I found out about it late 2015 just after the cut-off which meant waiting a whole year before I could even put down my name.
October 2016 came – I had the date saved in the calendar and bam, just like that I filled out the application which ensures you are eligible e.g. education levels etc. and joined the waiting game.
It wasn’t until May 2017 until I heard anything. There’s nothing keeping you in the loop, you just check your emails one day and there it is. I couldn’t believe it, round one complete. May’s form was much more intense. It actually took me nearly four hours to complete! And in there comes the many questions of prior US deportation. I answered it honestly but had no clue whether or not my past experience would backfire. From what was a funny experience which I laugh about and throw a party for every year may well have been the one mistake that threw my dream away.
I would not hear the next bit of news until 15th October 2017. I got my number. 576. That meant there were 575 other Australians in front of me. Some years they choose to cut-off your country’s quota before all numbers are seen. At 576, I was worried this would happen and I’d lose out.
At this point, they started making newsletters. In there you were able to see what number they were up to each month. According to last year’s round of applicants, 576 should have been for December, but in my 2018 round, just over 200 people had been seen in that time. It was still a waiting game.
I spent the first half of December in the US and days after I returned home, I was blessed with a date. February 13th. It was really happening.
Instantaneously, I hopped on the phone and booked my medical test. Friday January 12th was the date I was given and I ensured up to that point my diet and health etc. was the best it could be – didn’t need any unnecessarily complications when I was so close.
The medical test in itself was intense. You can’t really prepare, but it’s three hours of blood tests, x-rays and one extremely long questionnaire. You can only see one of two doctors in Sydney to get the test done, so lucky Dr. Rappaport was so lovely and made the process as smooth as possible. During the exam, she told me if had gotten this far it was pretty much guaranteed I’d make it in, she however wasn’t aware of my past visa history.
The next month was the longest yet. Each day was getting closer but it still felt like forever away. I went to Byron Bay for my birthday and told a few more friends. I wanted to share the final bit of my experience but at the same time I knew it would be even harder if I didn’t get it. I don’t regret sharing though.
At this time, anxiety was on a whole other level. I remember randomly crying on a train one day. This happened quite a bit over the two years when I thought about it too much. The waterworks would start and there was no way to make it stop.
I’ve never been a stressed or anxious person til this process. And it’s no-one’s fault, it’s just that there’s no information and you have no idea what’s happening in the next few months, whether your life will change or not – so much to think about. So as much as possible, I kept my mind away from it.
I’m also quite an organised person and enjoy packing so even when I went overseas for six months, did it the night before. But for my visa, two weeks before saw me get all my paperwork together. I took my time, collated everything just make sure I felt as zen as could be. The next few weeks saw me look through the folder about ten more times just to double, triple, quadruple check all was good, and it was.