If you are among those lucky ones who won the green card, do not relax and think that this is the first and last step to moving to the States. The path from winning the lottery to getting the actual green card is very long and arduous. In addition to the bureaucratic red tape, the paperwork and relocation process will not cost you cheap.
First of all, when you have checked the results on the official website and found out about the victory, you need to fill out an immigration visa application form – Form DS-260 (online). It’s worth noting that it’s free for lottery winners. If your family composition has changed since the registration for participation in the lottery (you got married, gave birth to a child), then the new family members must be indicated in your DS-260 form, otherwise you may be disqualified.
While you are waiting for a response from the visa center and collecting all the necessary documents, you need to undergo a medical examination. It is a must for lottery winners.
A medical commission is needed to determine if you or someone in your family has a medical condition on the list of restrictions on travel to the United States. It, in particular, includes mental illness, active form of tuberculosis, leprosy and others.
At the same time, you must pass the commission in special certified centers. You must sign up and negotiate yourself. The Department of State or the embassy will not contact you and schedule procedures for you.
Keep in mind that by the time of the interview, you must have time to pass a medical examination and get all the necessary vaccinations.
The cost of this procedure can range from $ 100 to $ 500. On average, it is $ 215 from each family member planning to immigrate, vaccinations are paid separately.
The next step will be an interview at the consulate or embassy. In this process, you will need the originals and translations into English of all documents, the results of the medical examination and the invitation for an interview directly. On the spot, at the embassy, you will need to pay a visa fee – $ 330 for each family member (this money is not refundable, regardless of whether you will be issued an immigrant visa or not).
If you are interviewed, you will be granted a six-month visa. It is within 6 months that all family members, or only the main applicant, will need to enter the United States, otherwise the visa will be canceled.
Considering that the process of paperwork is quite lengthy, you will be flying in at least six months. Now, due to the pandemic and international tensions, many flights have been canceled or limited, so it is difficult to predict even the approximate cost at the time of the flight. But still we tried. According to the Skyscanner website, if you fly from Kiev to New York in January, the cheapest ticket can cost $ 335, and a direct flight is $ 549.
Of course, the price may depend on many circumstances and factors, including the city you decide to fly to in the United States, the number of transfers, etc.
Below is the average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment (an economical option for a family of three) in cities where Russian-speaking immigrants most often move.
Data at the end of 2020 (Apartment List National Rent Report):
- Chicago (Illinois) – $ 1,100
- Los Angeles (California) – $ 1,360
- Miami (Florida) – $ 1,090
- New York (NY) – $ 2,130
- San Diego, California – $ 1,580
- San Francisco (California) – $ 2,440
- Seattle, Washington – $ 1,360
- Washington DC – $ 1,360
On average, it comes out about $ 1400 per month. At the same time, keep in mind that when renting a home in the United States, in most cases, you need to pay not one month, but two (the first and the last), as well as pay a deposit, usually equal to the amount of rent for the month (it will be returned to you when you move out if you you won’t break anything in the apartment). In the final calculation of expenses, we simply indicated the cost of a monthly rental without a deposit and payment of the last month, but in reality, you most likely should add a couple of thousand dollars to the rental amount for these contributions.
It should also be understood that if you choose a smaller city in less expensive states, then the cost of renting an apartment will be significantly lower, but finding a job can be more difficult.
Lottery winners come to the United States on a 6-month visa and must receive a green card on the spot. For the execution of this document, USCIS will take, at current rates, $ 220.
If you are already in the United States at the time of winning, then the official change of immigration status will cost more than all the immigration fees that will have to be paid to the winner in his home country. But in this case, you, most likely, have already resolved the issue of housing, work, and there is no need to fly somewhere.
So, you will need to pay the lottery winner’s immigration fee – $ 330, as well as $ 1,225 for a petition to change status (including biometrics fees).
For a child under the age of 14, the change of status fee is $ 750 if applied with a parent’s petition. There is no biometric fee.