Reader Questions III: Anniversary edition


I don't always celebrate with cheap sparkling, but ... oh yeah I do. Shit.
I don’t always celebrate with cheap sparkling, but … oh yeah I do. Shit.

Today (Down Under) marks one year since I got the good news: I had been approved for a green card.

As such, the second Tuesday in November will always live on in my memory: a day that quite literally changed the course of my life.

To mark such a momentous occasion, I’m finally getting around to aggregating a bunch of your questions that I solicited a week or two ago.

In related news, I’ve been kinda lazy on the writing front. In other related news, the first and second editions of this little segment are here and here.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s what my readers are curious about lately.

To kick us off, here’s one from AussieGemma over at the extremely useful Immigration Forums.

I know you lived in Denver for a while and now you are in Maine. What’s Colorado really like? We did 30 States when we went on a big road trip but didn’t go to Colorado. We were all set to move there and now I’m a little worried about the elevation and having trouble adjusting. Also it’s arid with not many trees?? Not sure if you are still reading but I would really appreciate your opinion.

Honestly, I didn’t really notice the elevation except for when I was exercising, because obviously breathing heavily in thinner air will mean it takes longer to catch your breath. I think it took me two weeks of running a mile a day to acclimatize, and after that it wasn’t much of an issue breathing-wise.

You might notice your skin being drier, which gave me a couple of minor nosebleeds (due to dry nasal passage walls, I guess), and you might get drunk a little quicker due to the altitude, but it really wasn’t that big of a factor that I noticed.

Colorado is absolutely beautiful country, by the way. I thought Denver was a great place too: not so big as to be intimidating, all the creature comforts of a modern city but with plenty of personality and different neighborhoods, a fantastic beer scene, and of course there’s outdoor activities everywhere for miles around. The hiking is great, and obviously there’s a ton of skiing (which I don’t do) and other snow sports. Obviously it depends on your situation family-wise and whatever, but as a young single professional I’d absolutely endorse the Mile High City.

And that’s not to mention the weather: Denver gets 300 days of sunshine a year. When I got back there in November last year, right before I moved to Maine, it was cold as hell, but the weather was still gorgeous. Blue skies for miles. I’d truly love to find a job there and move back.

A commenter named Keith had transit questions for me.

Did you purchase a one way ticket or return on your first entry after the win? My question was more to do with the requirements of the first trip over and whether that was something that is required as it will be my first time in the USA, i.e. do I Have to buy a one way ticket or a return ticket?

I had a one-way ticket, but that was something of a calculated gamble. My interview was in November, but by that point I’d been in the U.S. for over two months, and all my affairs in Australia were tidied up. Basically I was totally confident that I’d be getting the green card (since I had a low case number and all my paperwork squared away), so once I got my interview date I went ahead and bought my flight back to the U.S.

I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way, of course, because it’s a dangerous game to play, and most of the people I’ve come across in the lottery over the past year haven’t been immediately ready to move as soon as they were approved. I was, since I’d been banking on that eventuality since May, and didn’t have to pack up a house or give notice at a job or whatever because I took care of all of that in August then headed to the U.S. on a tourist visa. I basically spent three weeks at home for the interview and seeing friends and family.

As far as your move is concerned, you’ll have no problems with security in buying a one-way ticket. You’re immigrating after all, with a permanent resident visa. If you don’t intend to return to Australia any time soon, then your return flight will just be a waste of money. Good luck!

Strangely enough, another reader named Lucy asked me the same question about flights, but also had coverage queries.

What kind of travel insurance did you buy if any?

I had been on vacation in Colorado from late August all the way through to the week before my interview. I had a travel insurance policy through TID that lasted until the day I returned to the U.S. as a permanent resident. After that, I bought Seven Corners immigration insurance to cover me for a couple of months until my employer-provided coverage kicked in.

I’m not a lawyer or an insurance man, but I wouldn’t recommend covering yourself with Australian travel insurance once you immigrate, because if something happens and you have to claim, your policy may well be voided because you’re not technically on a trip, you’ve immigrated.

And last but not least, one from BritSimon, who interviewed me for his site a couple weeks ago. Obviously I posted the whole interview in its entirety here, but this question does bear repeating I think.

If you had to put a price on it – what would you think your Green Card is worth? Would you sell it for $x or would you not sell it for any money?

Hell, what a curveball of a question! Way to bury it until the end. I don’t think I could put a price on my green card. I’ve had so many unbelievable experiences since I moved out here – from the minuscule (like learning to walk on icy pavement) to the ones that benefit my career (writing a newspaper column that people actually read and congratulate me in, for example) – that I simply wouldn’t have had. If I sold it now, I’d be left wondering what sort of adventures, challenges and life lessons I’d miss out on by forfeiting my ability to live in other parts of this country, which is something I absolutely want to do.

Back in May last year, when I first found out I was a selectee, I had an attack of conscience because I felt a green card was “wasted on me” when it could be going to some family in a third-world country who truly needed to start a new life. But my roommate at the time put me straight, saying that I had just as much right to the green card as that hypothetical family, because we’d all been in the same hat together. I was just lucky enough to get plucked out.


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