Welcome to British Expats Abroad
    • Moving to America USA

      USA


      The United States is a very successful country through its immigration. Many business people and leaders came there through the years. With all these immigrants itís a multicultural country. The many different people from all over the world came here and brought with them their culture. All these different cultures are melting together in the USA, so a very own mixture of cultures and people developed in the United States, thatís why it is often called a Ďmelting potí.
      The USA belongs to the largest economic powers in the world and their military power as well. Thatís one of the main reasons many people are immigrating to the US.
      There are still 1 million people expating to the US, though the allowance got stricter and more selective since 9/11. But nevertheless there are much more who want to immigrate than those who are accepted. Immigration is the main reason for growing population in the US, so immigrants are also very important for America.
      Because of the increasing globalization the USA have many multi-national companies and many companies outsourced to produce in countries with lower wages. This makes many foreign people work in American companies and in America. Most people consider it difficult to expat to the US because of the cost of living, the lifestyle there and the high crime rate in many cities. But for every kind of immigrants there are advantages. America is not called ďLand of opportunityĒ without reason. No matter why people are expating some of the advantages are the high wages, the child-friendly environment and the well-developed infrastructure. And if you can afford education and healthcare, you have one of the worldís best systems with it. A big disadvantage is the high crime rate, the limited aid for those who need monetary assistance and the, since 2008, higher competition for jobs.

      Visas for the USA

      If you are only travelling or if you want to stay longer and work in the US you have to get a visa. There are different kinds of visas for expats and travelers to the USA.

      VISITOR VISAS
      For travelers of particular countries you can travel around the US 90 days. You get your visa through the visa waiver program. This is for people from Australia, UK, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Spain and Sweden. If you are traveling as a tourist or if you are on a business trip you need a visitor visa. In the American law itís said that everyone who applies for a visitor visa wants to immigrate to the US. So everyone has to prove that he only wants to stay for a short term. This might be proved by showing funds or that there is a residence outside the US you live in.

      TEMPORARY WORK VISAS
      There are many different types for work visas for the USA. It depends on what you want to work. You have to make sure that you apply right by choosing the right category of work you want to practice. Here are some of these types: - H-1B: Persons in speciality occupations; you need higher education and specific skills - H-2A: Seasonal agriculture workers; fruit pickers or workers on a farm - H-2B: Temporary or seasonal non-agriculture workers; time-limited/seasonal work (not agricultural!) - H-3: Trainees; practical training in other fields than medical or academic - L-1: Intra-Company transfers; employees of international companies who work for a branch in the US - O-1: Individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement; people with extraordinary talents (TV, film, athletics, business, education, arts, science) - P-1, P-2, P-3: Athletes, artists, entertainers; part of international known groups - Q-1: International cultural exchange; cultural exchange programs (sharing traditions, culture, history) - J: Working Holiday Visa; for young students to work an travel through the US for up to 12 months - EB-5: you need direct financial investment (500.000 or 1.000.000 US$) into new/exisiting US business; fastest way to get a visa - E-2: if you buy or start up a company in the US with personal funds (50% of the company)

      USA VISA EXTENSIONS
      If you want to extend your visa you have to apply for a visa extension before your non-immigrant visa is running out! If your visa expires before applying for a new visa you might be deported. Itís recommended to apply for the visa extension about 45 days before your visa runs out. To get a visa extension you must already have a non-immigrant visa for the USA which is, like mentioned above, still valid and you mustnít be involved in any crime. Not all visa types are permitted to extend, so you have to check if you are in the right category to get a visa extension. By applying for a visa extension you have to prove that you have financial support while staying in the US and you have to show your return tickets as well, so your stay is proven to be temporary.

      PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN THE USA
      To work and live in the US as a resident permanently you have to get a Green Card. With this Green Card you have the so called ĎUnited States Lawful Permanent Residencyí status which allows you to stay unlimited time in the US. You have to follow the rules and the law to keep your Green Card, if you do anything what is against the law and the rules the Green Card could be taken from you and you have to leave the USA. To get a Green Card you have to live for 5 years in the US, or if you are married to a US citizen you have to live there for 3 years. If you are a asylum seeker itís 4 years you have to live in America. And then there is a process with 3 different steps you have to undergo. 1. Immigrant Petition: must be submitted by a relative or the employer 2. Waiting List: you are on the waiting list until your visa number is available 3. Application: many background checks (fingerprint, criminal background, interview with husband and wife, employer has to prove why/that he has to employ an immigrant instead of an adequate American) As a Green Card Holder you have the right to live and work in the United States, but you are not permitted to vote or to be elected in any elections. Everyone over 18 years has to carry a physical card, if they do not carry it they have to pay 100$ or go to jail for 30 days. TIPS FOR VISA APPLICATION - Make sure you have enough proof that you plan to return home when you are applying for a non-immigrant visa - Checklist of required documents is helpful (if your application is sent back to you, you have to start again) - Clearness, concision and honesty by answering questions or filling out forms

      Working in the USA

      In the US everyone is very hardworking. Working weeks are often over 40 hours and vacations are less than in Europe, sometimes only two weeks per year. The business etiquette is quite similar to the European one, and the west coast might be a bit more relaxed than the east coast.
      In the United States job sectors depend on regions. So the east coast has a very huge financial sector, the Midwest is very in agriculture and natural resource and the west coast in technology and entertainment. So every region has kind of its Ďowní sectors and branches.
      Americans in common are focused on service jobs, production jobs are mostly outsourced because of cheaper wages and conditions in the eastern world. Most of the low wage jobs in the US are carried out by Mexicans.
      American companies can apply for workers from oversea if they can prove that there are no qualified Americans to fulfill the job. So many immigrants are nevertheless employed in parts of the workforce where skilled people are needed.
      There are still many areas in the US where are a lot of job opportunities, for example medical profession or care for elderly people. Skilled professionals in the IT-sector are still demanded, too.

      Getting a social security number
      Before starting a job you need a social security number (SSN), so the government knows how much you earn. If you do not want to work you donít need such a SSN, but itís still recommended to have a SSN. You only get such a SSN if you are permitted to work in the US, if you have the right visa.
      Some banks want your SSN but they can identify you also in another way, so you do not need it urgently. For getting a driverís license, to register kids at school or to get health insurance you also do not need your social security number.
      There are two different ways to get a social security number:
      1. Application before departing to the US, while applying for your visa
      2. Visit the social security office on arrival (itís good to wait about 10 days so all your documents are online; such offices are in all towns and cities)
      Getting and printing your social security number on a small card takes about 2 weeks.

      Education and schools
      Most children in the US are from the age of 3 in pre-school. At the age of 5 kids enter the kindergarten and with entering it the compulsory education begins. The schooling system is varied in each state, but generally it is divided in three parts.
      1. Elementary school: from kindergarten to grade 5
      2. Middle school: from grade 6 to grade 8
      3. High school: from grade 9 to grade 12
      In the whole USA school attendance is until the age of 16, but most continue until their graduation, what is mostly at the age of 18.
      PUBLIC SCHOOLS
      Public schools are paid by taxes, so most public schools in wealthier suburbs are more likely to have better facilities. Most expat students decide to go to public schools, because it is cheaper than a private school.
      There are only fees for the used books, the uniforms and other equipment you have to pay. How high the fees are depends on the state and the school.
      Advantages of public schools are the low costs and there are much more public than private schools, so they are closer to home and immigrated kids could contact kids from the neighborhood more easily.
      PRIVATE SCHOOLS
      The education standard is better in private schools opposed to public schools. The teachers are more flexible and have more opportunities to teach because they are not linked to the government.
      With the high fees private schools can offer more extra-curricular opportunities and activities to their students. And students with special needs could get a better support.
      Most private schools have boarding facilities, because many kids do not live in the area the private school is.
      There are high competitions for the limited places on private schools, especially on popular ones. The private schools are really selective, so expats who want to send their kids to such a private school should be well prepared and aware these facts.
      In some states there are also religious private schools which are cheaper if you belong to the same religion. Some of these schools do not accept students with other faiths but there are some who accept them, the only thing is that they have to pay higher fees.
      The fees for private schools can go up to 25.000 US$ per year.
      INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS
      International schools follow the curricula from the immigrantís home country what makes it a good solution for expats who only plan to stay a few years in the United States. The classes are hold in English and another language. The wait lists for popular international schools are very long, so itís recommended to apply early enough!
      The fees reach from 10.000$ to 28.000$ annual.
      HOME SCHOOLING
      Home schooling got pretty popular in the USA. It is more flexible and the atmosphere is more naturally than in schools, because study and play suit the needs of each student more.
      To cover all the required subjects itís important to know the stateís curriculum. Parents can either teach their kids by themselves or they can pay a private teacher (15-20$ per hour).

      The cost of living
      The cost of living depends on the region and the city you live in. Cosmopolitan centers like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are the most expensive cities. The cost of living can be up to 50$ higher than in other cities, but the wages are higher in these cities as well.
      Properties are really expensive in the US, thatís the main reason for the immense cost of living.
      The expenses are less than in European countries; petrol for example, is much cheaper than in Europe.

      Accommodation in the USA
      The USA has a high standard of accommodation options to suit everyone with his needs and budget.
      TYPES OF ACCOMODATION
      - Apartments: units in larger buildings
      - Single family homes
      - Duplex homes: two or more flats/living quarters in the same building
      - Condominiums: townhouses, separate, similar-styled homes, close together
      - Mansions: large, extravagant homes, the most expensive type to live in
      Apartments are most of the time to rent and family houses to buy. House-sharing is a good option for immigrants to rent a room in a larger house. Itís cheaper than renting a whole apartment and itís a good way to meet new people and make friends easily.
      RENTING PROPERTY
      There are many options to find a property to rent. One option is to search on internet sites, such as rent.com or apartments.com. Another possibility is to look in the newspaper and in magazines. Or if you see a ĎFor Rentí sign at an object you like just call the number given. Multiple listings service or real estate agents are usually used for buying a property but nevertheless they will help you find a property to rent.
      When you found a property youíd like to rent you have to get a State Rental Agreement. To get this you need enough money to cover the first months of rent and credit and background checks are made.
      Most of the lease agreements are based on six months or one year.
      If you have to pay gas, water, electricity, and so on depends on the rent agreement.
      BUYING PROPERTY
      There are several steps in the process of buying a property in the USA:
      - Mortgage or loan: as an immigrant you need a lot of supporting documents to get your home loan; you have to prove that you are legally employed in the US and that you are able to purchase your house financially
      - Formal offer to the seller: sales contract
      - Deposit: shows good faith that the full price can be purchased; the deposit for expats is higher than the deposit for American citizens
      - Inspection and appraisals: if you borrow money to buy the house banks or financial institutions insist on inspections if the property
      - Title search: usually made by the real estate agent
      - Sale contract: official record of sale; all money and property must have changed hands now

      Transport and driving in the US
      The American infrastructure is very well developed, so there are many ways to get from A to B. It depends on where you are living and on how much money you have whether you have your own vehicle or if you use the public transport.
      DRIVING IN THE USA
      A car is not very necessary when you are living in a large city. America has enough public transport and good transit networks in its metropolitan cities so suburbs and the CBD are linked well.
      In smaller cities or towns you are more likely to have a car because otherwise you barely reach things outside your walking distance.
      Itís easy to navigate the road system in the US, the main problem will be finding a parking lot, but many of them are free or discounted.
      The fuel costs are cheaper in America than in other parts of the world, but because of the bigger distances you need more of it.
      If you have a driverís license, no matter where you are from, you can drive with it, but an international driverís license is recommended.
      Renting cars is very easy in America, there are many car rentals spread all over it.
      By getting a resident you need a driverís license of the US. So you have to pass a driving test and show your proof of residency. You also need vehicle insurance and have to pay the application fee. If you do not have a driverís license already you must pass written and vision tests and, as well, you have to show your proof of residency. Afterwards you can drive with a licensed driver on your side, because you are on your instruction/learnerís permit.
      PUBLIC TRANSPORT
      - Trains: Amtrak (=intercity railway service) links over 500 destinations; ticket price depends on the distance of your journey; you can also add accommodation to your ticket fare; sometimes you can take your car/bicycle with you; there are promotions, packages or passes which make it cheaper
      - Buses: Greyhound and Coach USA are the biggest coach companies, they offer intercity services; low cost alternative
      - Railways and Subways: Subway=underground train service; railway=underground and surface services; especially in big cities (NY, SF,LA); cheap and saves time
      - Streetcars and cable cars: trams; run on a system of embedded rails with overhead cables
      - Taxis: =Cab; in every city; expensive; majorly for short distances; can be hailed everywhere
      - Cycling: certain bicycle friendly routes; most of the time not so safe as a car in big cities
      - Air travel: many domestic airlines (Southwest, United Airlines, American Airlines); quick way to travel; buying tickets or checking in online is possible

      Banking in the USA
      It can be very confusing opening a bank account in the United States because of the big competition and the huge range of services and rates. Itís easier to keep your overseas account and to open a US based account at the same bank. So you can easily transfer money from one bank account to the other one.
      This article was originally published in forum thread: Moving to America USA started by Ktee View original post