Every month on WOMENCANFLY.CO’s blog series, The Way, we introduce inspirational women who live abroad. This time, we meet Yuko Sadahira who lives in San Diego, America. In 2017, she moved to America with her husband. In the same year, the couple won green cards, and in 2019 they obtained permanent residence in the United States. We hear about Yuko’s marriage, moving to the States, getting permanent residency and how her life has changed in the last four years.
What is the American Green Card Lottery with a winning rate of 0.7%?
Yuko now lives in San Diego, the southernmost city of California. Her husband who is interested in foreign countries wanted to move there and they got married the same year they moved.
Immediately after coming to the States, they applied for the ‘Green Card Lottery’ and won it in one go! They decide to live permanently in the States and start a completely unexpected life. "The Green Card Lottery is held every year in the States for people to get permanent residency. If you win, you will be able to obtain an immigrant visa (commonly known as a green card) which is required for permanent residency." It’s said that about 50,000 people win every year but Yuko thought she wouldn’t as there is about a 1% chance of winning. Some people have been applying for more than ten years.
"I was really surprised when I found out that I won but after winning, the interviews and procedures took a long time." If you win, you will be interviewed in the order of the winning numbers.
"The interview asked us a lot about our marriage, where we met, how often we went on dates, and when we met each other's parents. I didn’t even remember anymore. If someone in your family gets permanent residence, the family will also get it, so you need to prove your marriage. The wedding photo book I brought just in case was surprisingly useful. "
There were many required documents, certificates, and procedures. Our win was confirmed in 2017, and it was in 2019 that our green card was actually acquired so it was a long two years.
Getting a green card has the following benefits:
You can work, go to school, or start a business at any time
Tuition fees will be at domestic student prices and you can take lessons that don’t require a student visa
You get access to American Social Security and public services
Citizenship can be obtained 5 years after obtaining an immigrant visa
"My husband is now attending college but the $4,800 class for a semester (4 months) that he originally took with a student visa has changed to $500 to $1,000 a semester with his green card.”
Wanting to work in America and not being suited to be a housewife
Yuko worked as a dental hygienist in Japan before moving to the States. She left when she moved but misses the job she worked for about ten years.
"I couldn't think of us living separately so I had no choice but to go to America with my husband. I wanted to go to America with my husband rather than go on my own. Leaving my job was hard. "
When she started living in the States, Yuko became a full-time housewife. For Yuko, who had been working for a long time, it was difficult for her to have no income. Sometimes the couple's wallets became one and it was suffocating to know each other's spending.
"When I don't have my own income, I often hesitate to do what I want to do. I wanted to eat out and shop without hesitation but my husband could see my credit card statement. I couldn't stand it and decided to work immediately. " It took some time but I found a job at a Japanese restaurant on a San Diego website. Yuko is still working at this restaurant and feels blessed with everyone she’s met.
"In addition to Japanese people, people from various countries such as Mexicans and Filipinos work in her workplace. There are many Burmese people because the owners support refugees from Myanmar. Sometimes I give them advice on Japanese-style customer service but I’m told it’s better when I do it.” In the States, a customer shouldn’t have to raise their hand and call a waiter over. It’s necessary to always watch the customer and move like taking the order as soon as they close the menu. It’s a different job to being a dental hygienist but seems to suit Yuko.
"This restaurant has become an important place for me in San Diego because all my colleagues are nice people."The American way of doing what you love no matter how old you are
The American way of doing what you love no matter how old you are
Yuko, who has been working at the restaurant for four years and has actually changed jobs once in search of trying to become a dental hygienist. I thought it might be better to get a dental assistant qualification so I asked my Korean friend to introduce me to a dental clinic. However, when I tried to work, I didn't get along with the director so I decided to leave in less than two months. "The month and a half I worked at the dentist's clinic was so painful that I was looking down all day. I might have been more patient if I was a little younger but I was 34 years old. I thought I didn't have to bother to choose work with someone who gave me a hard time so I returned to full-time work at the restaurant. " Yuko’s time at a dental clinic in the States was an opportunity to ask herself, "What do I want to do?" She says she has now decided on what she really wants to do.
“I now want to study 'fermentation'. When I experienced making miso (fermented soybean paste) two years ago, the miso I made was delicious and I wanted to know more about fermented foods."
Yuko has a friend who is a fermentation specialist and is qualified as a brewer. She heard that they were planning a seminar through Skype. She is aiming to become a brewer. "Americans go to school at any age if they want to study. It's good that it's common.” The good thing about America is that you can do what you like and dress the way you want to. A Japanese friend was surprised about my pink hair as I'm 30 but my American friends loved it.
Being away from family meant getting closer with her husband
Being far away in the States, you may suddenly say goodbye to someone special. This was true when Yuko’s father died. She received the news from her family on a day she happened to get up early and immediately bought a ticket and returned to Japan. "The hardest part about living in the States is that I can’t meet my family straightaway. If my husband was an American, I might have given up but why did I marry a Japanese person and live away from my family? It made me uncomfortable.” After parting with her beloved family, Yuko completely stopped thinking about being able to meet them whenever or meeting them another time. Yuko returns to Japan every year and no matter how busy she is, she decides to go see the people who are important to her. On the other hand, there have been some positive changes since she started living in the States. Her relationship with her husband has improved. When Yuko was in Japan, she heard that she didn't spend much time alone but in the States where everyone drives, there are many opportunities for them to drive and the conversations between them have increased. "I also have a hobby of bodyboarding. I really enjoy spending time with my husband, eating hamburgers, drinking coffee, and not doing anything particularly special but being able to just spend time together."
Yuko has also made friends in the States who she cherishes like her Japanese family and friends. On Christmas and Halloween, her husband and her get invited to house parties so that they don’t get lonely.
Yuko works at a fun workplace, laughs with friends and spends time with her family. She feels as happy as she was in Japan. Coming to America seems to have strengthened her heart and made her more free. Above all, she is very happy to be able to go out with her husband. Any Japanese person can apply for the Green Card Lottery if they meet the conditions like not having an educational background or criminal record. If you are interested, why not give it a try?
Thank you for reading this, and We are always here for you!
Women can fly.
Much love, xxx
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