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Moving to US to Live & Work – Horror Story

Where ever you live and what-ever you think of ‘Americans’, it cannot be denied that the chance to live and work in America is an exciting opportunity that would be difficult for anybody to turn down.

Such an opportunity was presented to my family nearly two years ago. Now, as we look back at the way our lives in the UK were too casually discarded, and stress again at the difficulties we had building new lives in North America, we feel a duty to pass on our experiences as a warning to anyone following in our path.

Although I had enjoyed many work related visits to Connecticut, the major influence of American people and culture had, for the rest of the family at least, come from the television. This is, of course, an extremely misleading and distorted channel for information. I am sure that there was a time when the box in the corner (or now more likely on the wall) was an informative and serious source of knowledge. Those days are long gone in our generation of dumbed-down quick-moving entertainment. It seems that no-one under the age of thirty wants to dwell on an idea for longer than ten seconds without the interlude of a joke or an explosion. America does not have jokes – it has slapstick; it does not have explosions – unless, some would have it, specifically arranged by the government.

So the first piece of advice is a scouting visit for all concerned to see what it is really like. This will, I assure you, both dispel wrong notions and delight in new experiences. You will find that Americans are not loud and arrogant, as you may have come to think from those sit-coms; but friendly individuals who work hard and play hard. If you can do the same then they will welcome you most heartily.

This initial adventure should be designed for two purposes: firstly to have a jolly good time but also more seriously as a reconnaissance of the area you expect to make your new home. It is important to see some of the sights and so make the visit a ‘holiday to remember’, but you should also travel; eat and stay in the local towns. Wherever you currently call home will have areas that you would not want to live in – and America is no different. You may want to have a second scouting visit, if possible, to find a home to rent so that it will be waiting for you when you arrive.

If it is at all possible you should arrange to have a relocation officer. This will not always be available to you, but we came across people who had a much easier transfer because of the assistance of a local representative.

As early as possible in the organization of the move, you must start the process of obtaining the American visas. Due to many reasons, our visas arrived just one week before we were due to travel and this caused us no end of problems. If you can get them sorted early then it will reduce the stress on arrival substantially.

Our lack of visas meant that we could not book flights or removals or even sell our cars in a controlled manner. These all, in particular, cost us significantly due to late fees and desperate sales. Being able to plan your last few months in sure knowledge of your move will vastly decrease the stress and anxiety from that we had to endure.

If you own your home then part of your plan includes the decision of what to do with it. Should you sell or rent it out? We are by no means financial experts, and so we can only tell of our own experience, but it has worked well for us in obtaining a long term tenant. This was the beginning of the recession and we had attempted to sell our house for a full year prior to our American opportunity being presented to us. The prices had dropped dramatically and so we would have been selling at a time of great loss of equity.

If you can obtain your visas early then you can carry out the task which will absolutely change your experience of the new country – you can obtain a Social Security Number.

These nine digits are your key to unlock a multitude of doors and without it you almost do not exist. If you arrive on American soil without this number then you will have to live an expensive and dreadfully frustrating life until the obligatory weeks of waiting for your allocation are over.

Without this number you cannot rent or buy a house. You cannot get paid for your work and certainly not obtain medical insurance. You cannot lease or buy a car and so you have the extensive car hire costs to contend with. You cannot have a phone (other than pay-as-you-go) or arrange for an internet connection. You cannot set up a television service either, but not such a bad thing perhaps as the family will be forced to actually talk to each other.

We had to basically pay upfront for everything by existing on the cash we had brought with us and the use of our English credit cards. The banks had great fun continually cancelling our cards due to ‘potential fraud’, however much we protested.

Whatever you do, do not bring your local currency as there are no facilities for currency exchange. We were astounded to find that there are no travel agencies or exchange bureaus and we had to laugh when we asked the bank to change money – they said they would have to send it away and it could take up to five weeks before we could receive the equivalent in dollars.

With the arrival of our Social Security Number we were finally able to lease a car and we then had the fun of arranging insurance. It is essential you take evidence of no claims with you and obtain insurance within thirty days of arrival in America. We were stung badly by our delay such that we are paying many hundreds of dollars per month which takes a significant chuck out of our income.

Another thing that you can arrange if you obtain your visas early is for the work permit for your spouse. Our visas included the ability for us to apply for a work permit but we did not appreciate that it would cost us so much or that it would still take so long.

The above can really be summarized quite simply in the advice to start your plans to move to America early and arrange as much as possible before you travel. When you obtain your visas then immediately apply for a social security number and a work permit for your spouse. Arrive with these documents and the proof of no-claims on your vehicle insurance. With these and hopefully a home waiting for you to move into, then you will be much more able to enjoy the adventure of new experiences in the land of ‘yes we can’.


Guest Post Author
Dave Corby

For more information about our experiences with relocating a family of 4 and a dog from the UK to America come read our blog at:

http://www.squidoo.com/movetoamerica

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Top 4 Tips to Get Your US Visa to Work In US

We try to answer your questions as fast as we can in the blog comments, it is just sometimes the response is so overwhelming it can take a while for us to catch up 🙂 In a way that is a good thing for us b/c we believe the information here speaks directly to all foreigners regardless if you are trying to come here to work on the H-1B visa, L-1 visa, E-3 visa, J-1 visa Work and Travel, J-1 Visa Internship or even come to study on the F-1 visa.

It did however give us an idea to document the 4 best tips we think will help you succeed in gaining employment with a US employer and then successfully applying for your US visa. Some of these ideas you might either be aware of before or have read them in earlier posts. Either way that is great b/c you already possess some of the best tools we believe for success in navigating the US Immigration system. So don’t think just because that some of these tips seem obvious that they may not be valuable. It is a culmination of our experiences and the experiences of the hundreds of people who comment and share their stories on here that allows us to document what we think is the best advice to getting your US visa (eg. H1B visa)

Additionally tips which should also both help you and save you money, which can be key in this expensive process, will be outlined and maybe save you unnecessary trips to an Immigration attorney, whom you would know if you have contacted one can be somewhat expensive to say the least.

OK here are our Top 4 Tips (in no particular order of importance) to finding work in the US and getting your US visa.

1. Come to the United States if you want to find a job – You may ask what does this mean but it literally means what it says. Unless there is something extremely unique and exceptional about your experience, almost no US employers will hire you sight unseen. Now for many people this means a significant risk and cost, leaving home to search for a job on the other side of the world with no guarantee of success but I can tell you that without this your chances of success (especially in the current climate) would be close to 0. Now some people they accomplish by coming here originally on another type of visa and then transfer from an F-1 visa as a student or via other types of US Visa transfers.

2. Apply for jobs in sectors that are growing, less well known and with an open mind to location – This tip in some ways is very controversial as I can even think of arguments to not support this piece of advice like if you scan the Top 100 Employers of the H-1B visa last year and see what sectors they are from. However this advice is for today’s climate and looking forward into the near future so as will explain is very relevant. Now the 5 sectors that I believe you should focus on are; IT, Health, Education, Online and New Energy. Each of these sectors have a lot of money being pumped into them are growing rapidly and require a wide range of skillsets from Engineering to Marketing to Computer Science to Medical to Business, etc. As for the location flexibility, many people focus on the big areas like New York, California and Chicago as they tend among the most desirable places to live. However currently these are the highest taxed places in the country, have the highest costs of living and the higher unemployment rates meaning you are competing with a lot of qualified locals for positions. Others parts of the country are more desperate for talent and not only could your take home salary be higher after expenses but you may also be able to gain a faster path to things like a Green Card.

3. Understand the US Job Interview – We actually wrote a specific post about how to best prepare for a US job interview but it is worth re-emphasizing due to its overall importance to your success and from hearing all the feedback we here from readers every day. The US job interview is a unique animal depending on where you apply and things that may be important back at home will never be mentioned here and other things that are rarely discussed openly at home like monetary issues are often initial points of conversation here. Often if you are applying in the more modern online sector the people interviewing may be just wearing regular street clothes and more interested in your answers to questions like “What is a good time for you?” and “What type of music do you like to listen to while you work”. These companies are much more interested in you fitting into their culture and enhancing a fun environment (assuming you have the basic competencies for the role) rather than all the awards you have won. This may be very different if you are applying at a large Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical company where they may test your skills in an interview to cope with pressure by asking very direct questions to assess your confidence in a competitive environment.

4. Be Over Prepared for your US Consulate InterviewThe US Consulate interview depending on who you ask may seem to a simple process or like a criminal interrogation. More often than not the people who think it is tough are usually ones who are disorganized and do not have all their documents ready, fees paid and other things organized like paid return envelopes. Usually you have to pay a visa application fee at a nominated location PRIOR to going to your interview and have the confirmation receipt. Many visas like the H1B visa have visa issuance fees and these can also apply depending on which country you are from. US passport photos are also a different size to many other countries. Also if you have to prove things like maintaining a residence abroad that you use common sense and not cease all connections you have with your home country and bring evidence like bank statements, mortgages, business ownership documents, mention immediate family connections, etc. (more often than not you never have to show this but it never hurts to have it).

So this not some sort of magic recipe for success but it is the common wisdom of hundreds of successful foreigners who have found work in the US, successfully applied for their US visa and now live happily in America. Don’t ignore the obvious!!

CJ

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