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We emigrate to the USA!

background info

Jayne and I have been together since September 2001, and we have been married since January 2007. Since Jayne (she is American) couldn't find regular, steady work in Germany, and she didn't want to give up her career, we decided to move to the USA. Jayne loves Europe and Germany, and it was a hard decision to leave. But we agreed even as early as 2004 that, at some point, we would move back to the USA. You can read more from her point of view:

immigration visa / green card

Because we have been married for more then two years, the visa/greencard paperwork should only be a formality. After reading several official USA federal web sites, we decided to hire a immigration lawyer in the USA, because the process seemed quite complicated and we thought it would help get everything done as quickly as possible. We got offers varying from 1.000 - 2.500 $ and hired the person who replied first -- within one day -- and was also the cheapest. She seemed so responsive and knowledgeable before we made everything official. But after she got our deposit and all our signed contracts, she didn't reply to our emails promptly and didn't answer our questions fully. She even told us to cancel our appointment at the consulate here in Germany, saying we should do the entire process in the USA; we didn't cancel that appointment, and it turned out that doing the process from Germany was very much shorter and easier than doing it from the USA. We fired her, and after a bit back and forth regarding the importance of ethics and good customer service, she refunded our deposit.
The consulate told us on our visit that, while it takes about one year to get the green card in the USA, it only takes about four months when one does it at the US-Consulate in Frankfurt/Germany. You also don't have to fill out as much paperwork. This information is never stated on the official web sites!
However, even doing it from Germany, there are still many, many forms to fill out, and the information must be filled out in a very precise way. Unfortunately, we didn't file the paperwork right on the date of our second year anniversary, Jan. 31, because we didn't have all of the information then; we filed three weeks later. The process takes up to 90 days, and up to 90 days for us is May 23, because of when we filed our paperwork.
By early April we have quit our apartment in Sinzig, sold our electric devices (because of the 115Volt in the US) and sold or given away some furniture. The rest is loaded into a container with the help of some good friends, and is on its way to the USA.
At may 4th I had my interview at the Consulate. In this interview they want to check if we are really married, or if we married just to get me a green card. What's strange is that Jayne is not supposed to be at the interview. And they didn't even ask a single question!?! Then the Visa from the Consulate in Frankfurt arrived already after just 3 days.
After they lost my application for a Social Security Card (which they told us after we asked for it after 3 weeks), and I applied for one again, it arrived within one week. I immediately got my German drivers license transfered (car and motorcycle, but not the Truck license). I even got to keep my German license. One can't do anything in the US without a drivers license, because it is the ID too.
At the end of July we will move to Portland/Oregon, where we hopefully will be able to find jobs.

Official info about immigrating to the USA.

time line and costs

Nov. 08 - getting offers from moving companies and for a container
Dec. 08 - hiring immigration lawyer
Dec. 08 - booking a container, with insurance, Euro5,000
Dec. 08 - firing lawyer
Jan. 08 - quitting apartment for April
06.02.09 - visiting the consulate to get info about necessary paperwork and process
20.02.09 - filing several forms at the consulate, $355
21.02.09 - faxing to the consulate paperwork necessary for the interview
26.02.09 - visiting panel physician for Consulate, Euro140
10.04.09 - loading container with help of friends, and moving to parents, 2 cases of beer ;-)
15.04.09 - faxing to consulate our change of address in Germany
16.04.09 - my wife, our dog and overweight baggage take flight to USA, $1,200
21.04.09 - getting the invitation to the interview by mail
04.05.09 - interview at consulate and submit final paperwork, $400
07.05.09 - immigration visa comes by mail to me in Germany
09.05.09 - my flight to the USA, $600
18.05.09 - container gets released from customs, $360
20.05.09 - container gets delivered to us
03.06.09 - being told that the application for the social security card has been lost
03.06.09 - applying for a social security card, AGAIN
08.06.09 - social security card comes by mail to our residence in Kentucky
08.06.09 - getting drivers licenses changed (still having to take the written test)
27.06.09 - green card comes by mail to our residence in Kentucky