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Author Topic: Foreigners retiring to the USA for fulltime RVing: has anyone here done it?  (Read 7601 times)

VallAndMo

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  • Vall and Mo, a married couple getting ready for FT
Hello folks,

We are foreigners a few years from retiring, and we are planning to move to the US and enter the fulltime RV lifestile as soon as we retire; I posted a message introducing us here.

Of course, we want do it legally.

Has anyone else here done that? Vall has a good prospect on getting a job in an US company which automatically sponsors all foreign employees for a green card, but if that doesn't work out, I would like to have a "backup plan" (fulltime RVing in the US is just too good an idea to let it fail).

We have been reading a lot on special VISAs etc and so far, it looks like our best bet would be to try and get an EB5 visa on a qualified RC ($500K initial investment plus around $70K in taxes and lawyer fees), but we are worried as there's really no guarantee that we will have the money back someday (to say nothing of a decent ROI), and no guarantee that we will have a permanent green card after the 2 year "evaluation period" ends... and $570K is just too much money for a 2-year stay visa).

Any advice, experiences, hints etc are very welcome.

Thanks,
--
   Vall and Mo.

Tom

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There are a number of us who came here through some kind of employer-sponsored visa. It's a long process to obtain a green card and even longer to achieve citizenship, but well defined, and I can't think of any pitfalls per se. Similarly, companies we've worked for have sponsored employees via various visa routes.

I'm not aware of anyone here who has gone the E5 route (well, maybe one), but I do know, from a recent discussion with an immigration lawyer, that it's possible. That $500K minimum investment could be as much as $1M, depending on geographic area, and it requires that it "creates at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or other lawful immigrants, not including the investor and his or her family."

There are no guarantees but, if you meet all the requirements, follow the defined process, and don't do anything illegal, I can't imagine why you wouldn't come out the other end of the process.

I can't speak for the ROI or the possibility of recovering your initial investment, but I assume you'd do your homework before investing that kind of money.

Consulting with an immigration lawyer would certainly be money well spent.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2011, 12:05:12 PM by Tom »
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DearMissMermaid

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It used to be you could come in as a tourist for a year, then renew, since you have your own income to support your visit in the USA. 

You can find out more by making an appointment at one of the US Embassys in Brazil. 

http://www.usembassy.gov/
http://DearMissMermaid.Com

Living, working. playing  in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

Tom

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Speaking from personal experience, in the last 40+ years, you have not been allowed entry to the US as a non-immigrant for more than 6 months at a time. There are special provisions to extend that non-immigrant stay by, for example, filing a form I-539 (see this message), but the original entry has a 6 months maximum stay.

What Vall and Mo are talking about is a special case where they are allowed entry as immigrants under one of the following provisions:

  • Sponsorship by a company that is otherwise unable to recruit some special talent, experience or skill.
  • Investment of  $500,000 to $1 million in a US company that results in the employment of at least 10 people, excluding the investors or their family.
Links to detailed requirements have been posted in prior topics, but you can search the US Citizenship and Immigration Services web site here.

No US embassy can change or waive the immigration laws.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2011, 09:38:12 PM by Tom »
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DearMissMermaid

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I didn't imply they could waive or change it, I said they could get more information from the US Embassy in Brazil by making an appointment.

It is possible to get more than 6 months entry to come visit without working. 
http://DearMissMermaid.Com

Living, working. playing  in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

Gary RV_Wizard

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I don't know of any investment that guarantees you get your money back, except maybe some bonds and they don't qualify under EB5. Whether the $500, 000 investment is risky or not depends on how well you select it. Creating 10 jobs implies a start-up company or maybe a major expansion and those are always on the risky side.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

topdownman

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Easier to just cross the border from Mexico into Arizona or Texas, thousands do it everyday and it's free. :-[
______________________________________
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2007 Sportscoach Pathfinder 377DS - Freightliner XC
2006 Jeep Commander

VallAndMo

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Hello Folks,

Thanks for all the replies. We have been researching into this EB-5 stuff, and it's somewhat confusing, but we think we have most of it nailed down. Here's a brief summary of what we found so far:

- There are 2 kinds of EB-5 visas: the ones where you invest in a qualified RC (Resource Center), and the ones where you don't.

- For the RC EB-5, minimum investiment is $500K, for the non-RC, it's $1M.

- If you take the RC route (best for us, as no active management is necessary), you will pay RC fees (around $50K - $70K) and also lawyer fees (around $10K-20K);

- You need to start by selecting an RC; for example, Jay Peak is apparently well regarded. You will then need to commit the U$500K investment funds (it's recommended to do that on a scrow basis, so that if your  I-526 form is rejected for any reason, you can receive the $500K back immediately).

- You will also need a lawyer to help you with the legal aspects and also to fill the paperwork.

- When you apply for the VISA, you start by submitting an I-526 application to the USCIS; this is reported as taking from 3 to 5 months to be approved. When it's approved, you must then submit an I-485 application; this one takes from 3 to 12 months, and upon its approval you and your family (wife and kids under 21 years of age) are granted an immediate temporary greencard VISA that enables you to do anything on the US (live, work, etc) for 2 years. Instead of the I-485, it seems one can also do an "IV application" that is supposed to be faster, but it seems you have to be physically in the US already to do that (we weren't able to find much info regarding this IV application).

- 90 days before these 2 years expire, you must submit an I-829 application to the UCIS, with supporting documents (provided by the RC) proving you have created at least 10 jobs; after at least 6 months processing time (and it seems it can take much longer), if all goes well, you will have the conditions on your (and your family's)  greencards removed, which makes it a permanent greencard.

- I-526 and I-829 approvals are anything but granted; in fact, we have seen rejection rates as high as 20% being reported; Unfortunately, USCIS doesn't keep or publish any records on the rejection reasons (but people believe it's mainly failure at creating the required 10 jobs).

- We searched for track records for each Regional Center; the idea is that the RC with the best rates of approval would have the best management, and so would not only provide the best chances of greencard approvals but also of getting your investment money back. It seems that there's no hard data on this, as USCIS reportedly keeps no RC-related statistics on approvals/rejections. On the other hand, some RCs (like the aforementioned Jay Peak) reports that they have (so far) 100% approval rates for both I-526 and I-829 submissions.

Anyone who has more experience or info about these matters and can comment on  or rectify the above, please do! We are not in the US and much less have talked to an immigration lawyer so far, and all our information was collected from on-line resources, so anything you can add is more than welcome.

Thanks,
--
   Vall & Mo.

PS: some of the online resources which we found are:
Wikipedia page on EB-5 (worse than most Wikipedia pages);
USCIS page on EB-5 (the official word)
Jay Peak's EB-5 site
An immigration lawyer's site with lots of info on EB-5

VallAndMo

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Hello TopDownMan,

Easier to just cross the border from Mexico into Arizona or Texas, thousands do it everyday and it's free. :-[

LOL :-) That's not our idea of "doing it legally" ;-)

Cheers,
--
  Vall & Mo

VallAndMo

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Hello Tom,

Thanks for the info, and for the link to the USCIS site, we indeed found a lot of information there (and straight from the horse's mouth it's always better).

Cheers,
--
   Vall & Mo

Speaking from personal experience, in the last 40+ years, you have not been allowed entry to the US as a non-immigrant for more than 6 months at a time. There are special provisions to extend that non-immigrant stay by, for example, filing a form I-539 (see this message), but the original entry has a 6 months maximum stay.

What Vall and Mo are talking about is a special case where they are allowed entry as immigrants under one of the following provisions:

  • Sponsorship by a company that is otherwise unable to recruit some special talent, experience or skill.
  • Investment of  $500,000 to $1 million in a US company that results in the employment of at least 10 people, excluding the investors or their family.
Links to detailed requirements have been posted in prior topics, but you can search the US Citizenship and Immigration Services web site here.

No US embassy can change or waive the immigration laws.



Tom

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Vall & Mo,

Thanks for taking the time to share the results of your research. Hopefully this will help others in the future. Interesting reading on the Jay Peak site. I have no knowledge of the company, but I'd sure want to do some heavy research before investing $500K plus all the heavy duty fees you mentioned.

I'd sure like to follow your progress, so please bring us up to date from time to time.
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VallAndMo

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Hi Tom,

I'd sure like to follow your progress, so please bring us up to date from time to time.

Sorry for the long time with no updates. This post seeks to somehow remedy this.

We spent quite some time trying to emigrate via the employer's (aka H1-B+PERM) visa... first and second tries didn't succeed, so we started looking for alternatives.  We also tried another route via the L-1A visa (we operate a company in Brazil and could emigrate by opening a branch for it, which would sponsor us as its managers), but contrary to the advice one attorney gave us, we determined that it was a really risky route and very probably doomed to fail.

All the while we kept researching the EB-5 visa... Late last year, after long contemplating the facts that (1) Father Time waits for no one, (2) we weren't getting any younger, and (3) that the specific conditions we were looking for could possibly never materialize, things finally clicked in our minds and we made the very difficult decision take the EB-5 route.

After  6 more months of intensive research, talking to many of the Regional Centers, doing deep diligence on the many options available, and talking to previous investors and their attorneys, and even hiring two PIs (!) to investigate some matters (we did discover some rather unpleasant "skeletons in closets", so this definitely was money well spent), earlier this month we finally committed to a project. From here on, it's a somewhat involved process, and a lot of it depends on USCIS (the specific Government Agency tasked with adjucating these visas), but we think we can reasonably expect to be moving to the US late next year.

Our plans call us to be initially located in Arizona (Vall will work for a few more years before we retire), mainly in the Phoenix area but moving up North for the summer.

Also, early this week we managed to join Escapees even before moving to the US; We are  #116835! More details for anyone else interested can be found here.

We hope to meet you all on the road before long!

Cheers,
--
   Vall & Mo.

Tom

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A big thanks for that update. Glad to hear you're finally making progress, but you've clearly experienced examples of roadblocks in the US visa system.

We came here on L-1 visas, transferring from a satellite company to corporate headquarters, both of which had existed for 10+ years. I can see that this route might be risky for your proposed situation.
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VallAndMo

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Hi Tom,

[...]but you've clearly experienced examples of roadblocks in the US visa system.

Very true, but possibly the understatement of the year...  ;) It's like saying that John Hunt "experienced examples of roadblocks in alpinism" when he climbed up Mount Everest! ;D

Quote
We came here on L-1 visas, transferring from a satellite company to corporate headquarters, both of which had existed for 10+ years. I can see that this route might be risky for your proposed situation.

Exactly. Our company in Brazil has been operating for almost 20 years, and its US branch would of course be completely bona fide, but it would fall into the "new office" kind of L-1A... and during our research we uncovered quite a few horror stories of unreasonable demands and RFEs/NOIDs from Hell happening when the 1-year renewal deadline came up. We also heard from quite a few folks that USCIS had assumed a very hostile posture re: L-1A visas in order to force people into EB-5. We are not going to go to all this toil&trouble&expense just to get kicked out after 1 year, so we decided to start on the right foot and get EB-5 (even if ridiculously expensive and risky). Alas, Vall's work in Arizona for these initial years will be in our company's branch, which we plan on creating anyway, even as it's completely unnecessary under EB-5...

Cheers,
//
  Vall & Mo.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 04:59:32 PM by VallAndMo »

VallAndMo

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Re: Foreigners retiring to the USA for fulltime RVing: has anyone here done it?
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2015, 04:40:13 AM »
Hello folks,

Just keeping everyone up-to-date: we spent from July 2014 to September 2015 assembling/organizing/translating all the documentation required for our investor visa. In the end, it amounted to a few *thousand* pages! We basically had to trace *every* cent that went in our investment, from the moment it was wired to us from one of our companies, through every transaction in our checking accounts, in and out of every investment/reinvestment we made during all those years (the  amount we ended up investing took about 10 years to accumulate, and in the meantime we changed investments and even brokers and banks many times) and finally into our US account and from there to the US investment proper.

We had to trace, then obtain official documentation (bank statements, wire transfers, investment contracts, etc) for it all... and then we had to translate everything to English, every single word of every document (not only the relevant parts). We also needed to provide 10 years of tax returns for both of us and our companies (about 50 complete tax returns total, each about 20 pages long). Utter madness... but in the end we made it just in time (the law was supposed to change in October and make it even harder to obtain this visa, so we were under a lot of pressure -- and in the end they didn't change the law, but oh well).  So, if anyone ever tells you that an investor visa is an "easy" way for "rich" people to "buy" their way into the USA, I can personally attest  that it's entirely false.

The good news is that we've now accumulated 3 months sitting on that immigration queue, which has historically taken from 9 to 14 months to run (as a *lot* of people applied in these last few months fearing the law would change, it has created a *large* backlog, so we're estimating it will take from 16 to 20 months until this particular step is concluded with us being called for a 2nd step, namely an interview at our local US consulate. Then we will need to provide *additional* (but reportedly simpler to obtain) documentation, then wait 1-2 months to have our temporary green cards granted; then we will have 6 months max to resolve all our affairs here in Brazil, and travel to the US and start living there.

So, 17-28 months for what remains, counting from last October; Subtracting the 3 months that have passed already, we should be arriving in the US definitely in 14-25 months, ie, somewhere from March 2017 to February 2018, so it will most probably happen during 2017. 

We can't wait to start meeting you all on the road!

Cheers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone,
--
   Vall & Mo.

Tom

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Re: Foreigners retiring to the USA for fulltime RVing: has anyone here done it?
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2015, 07:02:11 AM »
A big thanks for the update. You folks have a lot of stamina and determination to stay the course.
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AZ Randy1

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Re: Foreigners retiring to the USA for fulltime RVing: has anyone here done it?
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2015, 06:14:42 PM »
And we can't wait to get you over here, either, Vall. And please tell Monica that the professional American football team for which she will want to root, is the Chicago Bears. Her college team will be the University of Arizona Wildcats.

VallAndMo

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Re: Foreigners retiring to the USA for fulltime RVing: has anyone here done it?
« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2015, 09:43:20 AM »
Thanks Tom and Randy.

On a positive note, the latest USCIS report (published yesterday) says that they have reduced the backlog for the initial step for our visas from more than 14 to less than 13 months; as we were expecting these numbers to go UP and not down, this is good news indeed! If they don't inflate it later, we should be arriving sometime from November 2016 to June 2017!

Cheers,
--
   Vall & Mo.


Tom

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Re: Foreigners retiring to the USA for fulltime RVing: has anyone here done it?
« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2015, 10:47:56 AM »
Aye that is good news.

FWIW we've sponsored several family members, and the process always took 6 months +/-. The last time we were about to sponsor family members (a few years ago), the wait time had gone to 8+ years. They didn't want to wait that long to start a new life, and we didn't proceed with the sponsorship.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2015, 09:43:19 AM by Tom »
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VallAndMo

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Hello folks,

Just keeping everyone posted, the latest numbers from USCIS (the US government visa-processing service) indicate that our visa should be processed at or before August 2017, and then we would have 6 months to move to the US. So it definitely looks like late next year, or early 2018 at most!

Cheers,
--
   Vall.

jackiemac

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Hello folks,

Just keeping everyone posted, the latest numbers from USCIS (the US government visa-processing service) indicate that our visa should be processed at or before August 2017, and then we would have 6 months to move to the US. So it definitely looks like late next year, or early 2018 at most!

Cheers,
--
   Vall.

Hi, you guys have had to put in a lot of effort to get to the US.  When we went to see a lawyer about how to stay for longer than the 3 month ESTA he gave us the info on the process you are following.  We did not have the money, nor the desire to take such a huge risk even if we had.  He did say that a lot of these companies were unreliable so it is good to see that you have put in your homework.  I think I saw an advert in one of the British Airways magazines for a company looking for people to put money in, I think it may have been the Hilton Group. 

We decided to take the 6 month visa over 10 years.  We have purchased a truck and travel trailer and will store it when we are back in the UK.  I believe you can apply for an extension of up to 18 months which we will consider at some point I think.

I do hope your application goes smoothly.  I think you will love touring the States, I am looking forward to it immensely.

Keep in touch with the forum members as no doubt you will be able to give us an update on your progress and on your trip when it becomes a reality!

Good luck!   8)
Jackie n Steve - Happy Scottish Travellers

2017 Heartland Sundance 288rls
2016 Dodge Ram 2500 6.4L Hemi

8th May to 30th October 2017 - Touring Western US

VallAndMo

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Hi Jackie and Mac,

Your lawyer is correct, most EB-5 Regional Centers (the last count I saw was there were more than 700!) and projects are real money traps, and some are outright scams... see the recent debacle on  Vermont's Jay Peak, which was one of the most praised at the time we started looking (when we got really deep in our analysis, we suspected their fundamentals but not their honesty... so we were half-wrong in not suspecting both, but ended up discarding them from our short list and so escaped that trap anyway).

Thanks for sharing your story. We considered doing something similar (much less risk) at the start, but other matters intervened (Vall is going to start a company in the US) and therefore the path you are taking was not viable for us.

PS: congrats on the truck and TT, they certainly look sweet! We plan on buying a Dodge RAM ourselves, and very possibly a Heartland trailer (but a 5thWheel and not a TT). When are you planning to start your touring? We've done some 2-4 weeks tours already (in rental RVs) and can't wait to start doing it with our own rig!

Cheers,
--
   Vall & Mo.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 06:25:41 PM by VallAndMo »

jackiemac

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Hi, it's Jackie and Steve, my last name is MacKenzie  ;D

We started in Las Vegas in May, buying our trailer from Johnnie Walker RV in Vegas, they sell the Sundance 5th wheel too, I was inside one a few weeks ago, very nice!
I would thoroughly recommend them. We had a very positive experience with them and I cannot recommend them highly enough. If you are interested I can send you details.

We bought our tuck from Dennis Dillon in Idaho at around $5000 cheaper than Vegas. We had to prove we weren't going to take it out of the country before they would sell us a new one (some Vegas dealers were the same  - worried we were exporting back to UK).

We stayed in the dealers lot testing everything and getting minor things fixed. We were lucky and they had space for us to stay 10 nights! We then drove down to Palm Springs to meet friends (Happy Travels RV Park) and then on to Mission Bay San Diego. Palm Springs was 118F San Diego 69F! We were there for a few days visiting a Joshua Tree then headed up into the mountains for some heat! We stayed at Pass Picasso State Park which was nice and visited Julian, a lovely town and fished in Lake Cuyamaca. We then headed into Borrego Springs ( The Springs at Borrego RV Park) which was also lovely and warm. We went round the Galetta Meadows sculptures and visited Fonts View where we saw the badlands of Anza Borrego. We then headed back to Vegas.

We left our trailer and truck at the dealer as we are home for 2 weeks. They were happy to let us do that as it was a short time. They have been so so nice.

I am back out in a few weeks and really looking forward to seeing more of the country.

Photos of Borrego Springs and sunset at Joshua
« Last Edit: July 06, 2016, 01:52:05 AM by jackiemac »
Jackie n Steve - Happy Scottish Travellers

2017 Heartland Sundance 288rls
2016 Dodge Ram 2500 6.4L Hemi

8th May to 30th October 2017 - Touring Western US

VallAndMo

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Hi Jackie and Steve,

Hi, it's Jackie and Steve, my last name is MacKenzie  ;D

OK, thanks for setting us straight ;-)

Quote
We started in Las Vegas (...)

We will PM you the rest of our response. We were writing a long one and realized we were getting somewhat off the original topic...

To anyone else is reading this, please PM us if you are interested  andI will either PM you a summary or post it in a new topic. 

Thanks,
--
   Vall & Mo.

jackiemac

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Ok look forward to receiving it!
Jackie n Steve - Happy Scottish Travellers

2017 Heartland Sundance 288rls
2016 Dodge Ram 2500 6.4L Hemi

8th May to 30th October 2017 - Touring Western US

VallAndMo

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  • Vall and Mo, a married couple getting ready for FT
Hello everybody,

Just keeping everyone posted, the latest numbers from USCIS (the US government visa-processing service) indicate that our visa should be processed at or before August 2017, and then we would have 6 months to move to the US. So it definitely looks like late next year, or early 2018 at most!.

The USCIS-published numbers kept pointing to August 2017 (ie, this month) and in fact they just  published numbers that showed they should have gone through our petition about 2 months ago. Unfortunately, we haven't received anything yet from them, and our petition still shows as untouched in their web site. To cover the possibility that our petition has just "fell through a crack" and been forgotten somewhere along their processing, our attorney had been inquiring about it but so far has only got standard, "boilerplate" responses.

We're in contact with a number of other folks who filed their petitions at the same date or very near as ours, and almost half of them are in the same situation as us, so there's a distinct possibility that the USCIS numbers are overly "optimistic" and that in reality they are simply more backlogged than they care to admit.

Well, time will tell. Meanwhile we're on the final stages of getting ready here (settling business affairs, selling real estate, downsizing, etc), we just hope our visas get a move on, so we don't end up all ready but with nowhere to go.

Will keep everyone informed. Thank you all for your encouragements and best wishes!

Cheers,
--
  Vall & Mo.

Tom

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Thanks for the update, that must be very frustrating. Keeping our fingers crossed for you.
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