The first part of my story can be found in the signature, and here is an update for those feeling curious about what to expect.
I arrived at JFK, handed the envelope to the passport control officer, who asked me to look at a camera and snapped my photo. She then told me to follow her to the back office for the rest of the process, and at the door of the office I was asked to leave all my luggage, except those containing cash or jewellery. I told her that in my handbag I had a laptop, an Iphone 5, and an Ipad, but she said I have to leave it out. That "out" wasn't a proper manned counter or anything, rather a pile of bags left randomly on the floor by the people who have proceeded me.
I left my bags out, and went inside where I sat on a seat waiting to be called. It took less than 5 minutes before I was called, and the immigration personnel started typing stuff on his computer. I couldn't see the bags so I was nervous, and sure enough I spotted someone walking away with my handbag on her back!! I ran out and caught up with her and we went back to the pile where she apologised for the mistake and showed me her own bag which was a nearly identical brand sports bag of the same colour as mine. An innocent mistake but I was not impressed with the way immigration asks people to leave their things unattended like that. Nothing would have happened if everyone was allowed to take their bags with them, especially that it was before baggage reclaim so all we had at that point were the one or two light pieces of hand luggage that were searched and scanned over and over before boarding the flight.
Back to the desk I was asked to go to another desk to write my official signature that will be printed on the Green Card and be fingerprinted. I did that, then asked the lady if my Social Security card would come to me or if I needed to apply for one. She said "I don't know". I explained that I checked the box asking for the SS card to be mailed to me and wanted to know if going to the SS office and applying could speed up the operation as I read here and elsewhere, but she had no idea about anything and said "whatever it is on the documents that would be it". She knew nothing and was acting impatient, so I left.
Two days later I went to the local SS office where I was staying and filled a form for a first time card, and when I sat at the window the lady asked me if I asked for a card to be sent to me when I submitted the applications, I said that I did, but she looked at the computer and said (guess what?) that there was no record of it at all and she took my application to process the card from scratch. I then moved to my final destination and settled in the address I put on the forms and at my POE, and the card came in the mail about 5-6 days later. I looked and my name was printed wrong! They left letters out from my middle name and it was pretty frustrating. Even more frustrating was that I found that the local SS office has been closed for months, and I was advised to go to the closest one which was about 2 hours ride on the bus! Took that ride in the morning, and when I arrived there was a huge line of people waiting to get inside. I queued for 2 hours outside, then finally entered and waited for 20 more minutes. Explained the problem and had my name corrected, then I was told my new card will be mailed to me and I should destroy the old one once it arrives.
14 days later the card still hadn't arrived, so I called SS and got an automated message that my waiting time would be 45 minutes, and was given an option to request a call back and hang up. I did that and hung up, and about 45 minutes later I got a call back and an automated message said I will talk to someone shortly. That shortly turned out to be 35 minutes, but finally I talked to a very helpful employee that checked everything with me then spoke to the supervisor, then he said that I had to wait for 45 days before I could be issued a replacement card. Now it has been 40 days since the card was supposedly mailed and it still hasn't shown up, so I will call again in 10 days to ask for a replacement. Pretty annoying since everyone is allowed 3 cards a year, and only 10 cards in a lifetime. Now I'll have used 3 of those without a fault of mine.
Anyway, 19 days after my POE, I started focusing on the green card fearing problems with it as well, and this one is way more important than the SS card and not as easy to replace. I logged into my USCIS online account where I paid the $165 before leaving home, and found that my status was stuck at "accepted" and the last status date was the same date I paid before flying to the USA. I navigated my account and found that my profile was empty, so I filled my address and phone number and saved all then left. The following day I logged again, and surprisingly found that my status has received an update that morning and went to "optimised"! I can't be positive if filling my profile the previous day had anything to do with it or it was just a coincidence, but I have a feeling it was coincidental. Anyway it started moving pretty quickly from that point and two days later I checked my status here https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard/CaseStatus.do
using the receipt number, just to find that my card has entered the production phase. Two more days and it said it was sent and I was given a USPS tracking number and told to expect it within 30 days, but only 3 days later the mail man was at my door :D
The card had my information 100% correct, and the thing is breathtakingly beautiful! I know I loved it because of what it meant, but it is really physically beautiful with holograms and shifting colours and an electronic strip on the back bearing what looks like a laser engraved silhouette of my information, and of course most of the beauty of the card comes from my extremely handsome face that's printed on it :p All in all it took the green card 32 days from my POE to delivery, and you should look for the special small envelope that comes with it and store your card in it all the time to prevent people who have portable readers from stealing your info wirelessly just as they do with credit cards in people's pockets.
That's it, and this is the post I always intended to make with the last part of my DV lotto journey. I will say goodbye to all of you at this point and I wish everyone the best of luck and fulfilment of your dreams, and please always remember to be honest and fair to others, respectful and loyal to your partner, and do acts of kindness for those in need whenever you can :)