Immigration Journal – Showing the Steps from Diversity Lottery Winner to Citizenship
Willy Wonka of Modern Days
Diversity Lottery for Green Card
I, Jonilda S., moved to New York with my family on December 10, 2007 under Immigrant Visa. My family and I come from a third world country, Albania, which is located on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula. Albania is a small country with Adriatic and Ionian coastlines and an interior crossed by the Albanian Alps. Although, Albania has a very interesting history, beautiful beaches and mountains, however people always tend to leave the country for a better life and new opportunities. The government has encouraged hundreds of Albanian citizens to apply for American Lottery, “American Dream,” hoping to win and move to Unites States. I was one of those people.
At the end of year 2006, I encouraged my parents to fill out an American Lottery application, DV-2006. This form can be found at US Department of State website, https://www.dvlottery.state.gov. After few months, at the beginning of May 2007, my family and I received the great news that we were selected as the winners of the First Applications.
Green Card Application
We were required to fill out a second application to continue this adventure. My father, who was the head of the household, filled out the second application on May 2007. On September 2007 we received a response from the American Embassy in Albania that we were selected as winners of the second applications as well. A doctor’s appointment was scheduled in 3 weeks and an interview with the American Counsel at the American Embassy was scheduled in a month which would decide if we were going to live the American Dream.
However, in order to continue with the interview, we had to show the U.S Government that we had support in Unites States. A cousin of ours filled out an Affidavit of Support, Form I-134, which can be found at USCIS website, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-134.pdf , and sent it to the American Embassy in Albania. The interview lasted 30 minutes and we were told, “Welcome to America.” My father’s eyes were filled with tears and joy. That was an unforgettable moment for my family an I. The American Embassy provided us with Immigrant Visas. After one month of our interview, we moved to New York, where the American Dream began.
When we got to JFK airport we were separated from the other group of travelers and were taken to the immigration office at the airport where we were asked to fill out application for Social Security. Also we were taken pictures, fingerprints and asked to fill out Form I-485 which you can find at at the USCIS website, https://www.uscis.gov/i-485.
In two weeks, social security numbers for my parents, my brother and myself arrived. After a month we received Green Cards as well which were eligible for 10 years. We were officially legal residents of New York.
According to USCIS regulations, we had the right to apply for citizenship after 5 years of living in Unites States. In March 2015 I applied for citizenship. I filled out Form N-400, Application for Naturalization which can be found at the USCIS website, https://www.uscis.gov/n-400. Also, along with Form N-400, I applied for a Fee Waiver, Form I-912 which can be found at the USCIS website as well. A Fee Waiver application waives the passport fee ($680) for residents that have low income or Medicare. I attached two passport photos, copy of the Green Card and any other relative document listed on the Instruction Form, to the application and mailed it to the USCIS office in Dallas, Texas. On April 2015 I received the Fingerprints Appointment date and time from the USCIS at one of the local offices in Brooklyn. After the fingerprints and picture were taken, the next step would be the Interview. In June 2015 I received the Interview letter from the USCIS stating the date and time. My interview was scheduled for July 22, 2015. During my fingerprints appointment, I was given a book and a CD to study for the Interview questions. There were 100 questions about the history, geography and the American Government. During the interview, I took a three-part test (reading, writing and oral). I passed all three tests. The following step to become an American Citizen was “Taking the Oath”. In August 2016 I took the Oath at the Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. There I was required to return my Green Card and I received the Certificate of Neutralization along with the passport application form DS-11 which can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/forms.html
The final step was setting up an appointment with a Post Office Agent, submit the original Certificate, completed passport application form, two passport photos and pay a fee of $130.
I received the passport three weeks after I sent the application. Certainly, it was a long journey for me but yet rewarding. I consider myself very lucky that I had an easy and fair process of becoming a citizen of the Unites States. Moreover, I got to share the same dream with my parents and my brother. As my boss, Daniel M. Silvershein, always calls me, “The Willy Wonka” of modern days.