You have to plan your immigration to the United States carefully. You have obtained the green card and now finally getting to move. You may be wondering what you need to bring along or what documents you need to translate into English – with the following tips, you should be well prepared!
Get ready to move to the USA
You’ve won the Green Card Draw and you already have a gren card in your name? Then it’s time for the most exciting part of the green card process: Moving to the United States! The better you prepare for your move, the easier it is to start living in the USA. With this checklist of relocating to the USA, you’ll learn what to do. Ideally, you should take care of the following things early on:
– Organizing housing or temporary residence in the United States.
– Plan your move well: Do not skip any steps and make a plan for your current and future home before and after the move.
– Gather the most important documents and translate them into English.
– English Language Skills: Refresh your English language skills before you go.
Can I move to the United States if I don’t speak English?
Wondering if it’s possible to move to the United States without being able to speak fluent English? Strictly speaking, there are no language requirements to enter the USA. Of course, being able to speak and understand English to a certain level is definitely an advantage, and would make it easier for you to adjust to life in the USA. If your English language skills needs a little bit of working on, it’s a good idea to start training before moving to America.
Children will learn English quickly in school and many state-subsidized schools offer additional courses for children who need special support. Children can also take an English as a Second Language (ESL) course at school in place of the regular English lessons. Students who already have a certain level of English will participate in regular school lessons and receive additional support. It’s a good idea to look to after-school English programs for group or one-on-one lessons.
Adults without English language skills can also apply for ESL courses. Usually, these courses are offered either by state-supported institutions, adult education centers, or private language schools. Colleges and schools in your area usually offer state or local government-sponsored adult education courses. ESL courses are often taught by volunteers from the neighborhood, so you can not only learn English but also make friends. The benefit of these courses is that they are inexpensive or even free.
What documents do I need?
There are some required documents and forms that you must bring with you when you move to the United States. It’s very important to bring all documents! It’s advisable to gather all of your documents and translate them into English before moving on. Once in the United States, the documents may be difficult to translate or may not be available from the U.S. authorities.
Important documents you need to bring with you:
– Personal ID and passport.
– Obtain an international birth certificate (issued in English) for yourself and each member of your family.
– Bring the original copy of the certificate (s) of marriage or divorce and an English translation.
– If you are a single mom or dad, you must bring you must bring the original custody declaration and an English translation.
– If you have not closed your bank account in your country yet, do not forget to bring your important bank documents including the account number and transfer information.
– Do not forget to bring your tax records and other important financial documents.
– Translate job application documents (CV, cover letter, and job recommendations) professionally into English.
– You must make sure to bring school transcripts, school and university certificates, and any evidence of further education with you – original and an English translation.
– If you are still studying or have recently completed a college degree, your credentials must be evaluated and recognized by an accredited organization.
– Visit your doctor before you go and get an international vaccination record for every family member and translate all important medical records into English.
– If you already have a job interview or employment contract, don’t forget to bring it with you.
– If you have a driver’s license, it is recommended that you obtain an international driver’s license.
– Please bear in mind that all important documents and records must be translated into English!
It is recommended that you carry the original documents with you in your handbag.
Immigration to the United States of America
Before you pack everything up in a container and send it across the ocean to America, you probably should think about it again: What should I really take to the United States? You should also decide whether you want to sell or rent your home right away.
Tip: Separate yourself from your belongings. Most of it is unnecessary luggage. First of all, there is a lot you can buy in the USA. Second, it may be cheaper to buy new or used furniture or appliances in the U.S. than importing all of your belongings. Of course, there are some things you shouldn’t give up like precious porcelain or antique furniture. You have to think about everything and think if bringing it to the USA is really worth it.
Electronic appliances and furniture
Many things differ in the USA including the outlets and the voltage standard for electrical appliances. The outlets in America look different and only hold 110 volts. Most electronic devices require an adapter, which can be a hassle. Some appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, hair dryers, microwave ovens, stoves, and washing machines, are not adaptive or require an additional adapter. Maintenance of these machines may also be more expensive because spare parts may not be available in the USA. In general: Leave your electronic devices at home and buy yourself new ones in the USA.
You can leave most of your furniture, too. If you no longer need certain pieces of furniture, sell them or leave them behind. Most homes in America have an included kitchen and some have electronics already installed. In addition, most bedrooms have wardrobes. So, you can save time and effort and leave your large wardrobes behind!
Battery-powered devices, such as smartphones, laptops, and computers, can be used without problems in the United States. All you have to do is buy a new charger with an American plug
Here is why you might leave your car behind:
– High transportation costs.
– American safety standards, shock, theft and emissions prevention.
– High cost of import to USA and customs.
– USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) requirements to thoroughly clean the bottom of the car with a special steam cleaner.
– According to U.S. requirements, your vehicle may be modified, returned or even destroyed.
– Transport companies and transportation costs
– Once you have a good idea of what belongings you want to bring with you, you can start looking for a company to help you move. The more you want to bring, the more expensive it will be. Some green card holders pack all of their belongings in one container and ship it while others manage to pack it all in travelling bags.
– Make sure to organize how you transport your belongings to your new home. Some people hire a company to move their boxex and some take their belongings themselves in order to save money. If you hire a moving company, they will handle customs declaration forms on your behalf. Depending on how much and what you want to bring with you, it may be worth hiring a company after you compare prices and get estimates. Make your move as easy as possible by planning ahead.
Last check up before you go
– Do you and all your family members have a valid passport and visa?
– Did you translate all your documents into English, and fill in the originals and make more than one copy?
– Have you already sold your apartment / home or found a new tenant?
– Have you registered your departure with the local authorities (if necessary)?
– Have you canceled all your ongoing contracts, for example, cell phone, electricity supplier, internet or any magazine subscriptions?
– Have you notified the financial authorities of your departure (if necessary)?
– Did you notify your retirement plan of your departure?
– Have you purchased travel insurance?
– Did you rent a moving company?
– Have you notified the post office of your new address?
– Finally: Have you already booked your flight?
Housing or temporary residence
If you do’nt have any family or friends in the United States to stay with, it is recommended that you arrange accommodations before moving to the USA. You can choose to rent or buy an apartment or house before moving in. Finding an apartment in the United States is relatively easy and it depends on where you decide to live, and the rental rates are reasonable. Of course, housing prices vary greatly, and housing in popular areas becomes more expensive.
In the beginning, you should maintain flexibility by renting your home or apartment on a monthly basis rather than signing up for one year leases. This way, you would have the possibility to move again if desired.
Alternatively, you can always stay in a hotel room while searching for the perfect place to live. Many hotels offer discounted rates for longer stays. Bear in mind that you may not have enough space for all the moving boxes in your hotel room.
Tip: Storage spaces are found everywhere in the USA and the rental rates are usually fair. If you need time to find the perfect place to live then you should consider renting one.
Arriving in the United States of America
The most important obstacle is setting your feet on American ground. Once you’ve done that, you’re right at home. However, new beginnings include finishing up some organizational things. Ideally, you will have a few weeks before you start your new job, school, or child’s school year. You should use this time to explore your new home as well as get some bureaucratic matters done in the United States.
You should include the following points in your to-do-list:
– Social Security Card.
– U.S. driver’s license.
– U.S. bank account.
– Health insurance.
– Retirement pension plan.
– Housing / Temporary Residence.
Applying for a Social Security card should be on the top of your to-do list when you arrive in the USA. Firstly, it is a rule that all immigrants apply for a Social Security number and secondly, a Social Security card is an important identity card. Your Social Security card is your identity and proof that you have been issued a Social Security number. Without this card, you cannot work in the United States and in most cases, you cannot do many things like open a bank account.
In some cases, it is possible to apply for a Social Security card at the U.S. consulate in your country. However, it is much easier to apply for one in the USA. There are many Social Security offices across America where you can do this. The staff at the Social Security Administration will help you complete the application.
You and your family members will need the following documents to apply:
– Legal Permanent Resident Card (I-551 Green Card Order Entry Stamp).
– Birth certificate.
– Your Social Security card should arrive about two weeks after submitting the application.
– U.S driving license
Depending on the U.S. state you’re arriving in, you can use your foreign driver’s license for a certain period of time. As a general rule, this period is twelve months, because this is how long you are allowed to rent a car as a foreigner in the United States. It is important that you educate yourself about the rules of your country. Obtaining an International Driver’s License is not strictly required, but recommended.
A driver’s license in the USA holds a lot of value. It is an important proof of identity in America and you should obtain it as soon as possible. Similar to the Social Security card, it is a central identity document.
To obtain a driver’s license, you must pass a written test and a driving test. Every country has different requirements.
If you do not have or want a driver’s license, it is possible to apply for an alternative ID card issued by the Motor Vehicle Department (DMV).
Health insurance in the USA
Health insurance is a very complex subject in the United States. For a lot of people who move to the USA, especially from countries with universal health care, it is very important to understand your options. In most cases, it is recommended to contact an expert who can advise you.
Generally, Americans pay for their medical care either directly or indirectly through their health insurance. Don’t be surprised if you require payment when you see a doctor. This is very common in the USA and is known as co-payment.
Healthcare in the United States is expensive. Therefore, it’s a good idea if your employer fully pays it for you. Some employers only pay a part of your health insurance and you may be required to pay the rest. This is called an installment.
In the United States, health care is a joint system of publicly funded insurance. You can compare prices and find private health insurance in the health insurance market. Medicare and Medicaid are two federally funded health insurance programs for certain groups of people:
Medicare is a federally administered health insurance program for Americans over the age of 65 as well as for people with disabilities or end-of-stage kidney disease. The program is funded by taxes, installments, etc. Older U.S. citizens or foreigners with a work or permanent residence visa who have paid at least 10 years in Medicare are eligible to use it.
Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income residents including families with children, pregnant women, the disabled or the elderly. The program is a joint effort funded by taxes from both the federal government and individual states.
About a third of all Americans have health insurance that is provided through Medicare or Medicaid. In many cities and communities there are so-called clinics or community health care centers that provide free or low-cost medical care.
Americans who do not have health insurance must pay for their medical care. It is not surprising to hear that most of the people filing for bankruptcy in the United States do so because they fell ill or had an accident and were unable to pay the extremely high medical bills.
But don’t worry: even if you don’t have health insurance, US law forbids any hospital or doctor to refuse treating you in cases of emergency!
U.S. retirement plan
You have already worked for a long time in your country and paid in for a state funded retirement plan. Now that you have moved to the USA, you may be wondering what happens to your retirement pension and whether you qualify for a U.S. retirement plan.
The US retirement system is called Social Security or officially the Old Age, Survival, and Disability Insurance Program (OASDI). Most people depend on this tax-funded federal program for their pension plan in America.
If you live and work in the USA, you have to pay into the Social Security Fund. However, it is also recommended to apply for a special retirement plan fund. In the United States, the retirement age for people born after 1960 is 67. However, it is not unusual for people over the age of 67 to continue working. You should make sure from your country of origin what happens to your pension when you move to the USA. After you have worked in the United States for at least 10 years, you are eligible for Social Security benefits.
USA bank account and credit history
After arriving in the United States, you should open an account with an American bank as soon as possible. This becomes easier if you already have a Social Security card. Check which banks have the best rates or are closest to you and make an appointment with a bank clerk.
Banks in America don’t differ much from other banks around the world. American banks offer different accounts for customer needs such as savings accounts, check accounts, or business accounts. If you want to build your credit record, you should open a check account. Before doing so, you need to call your bank and make an appointment. The bank clerk will tell you what documents you need, but you should go ahead and prepare the following documents as well:
– Passport or driver’s license in English or any other form of photo identification.
– Green Card (lawful residence permit).
– USA mailing address (your bank card and all other information will be sent to this address).
– Phone number and email address to reach you.
– A letter with your name and address.
– Social Security Card.
– It costs $100 to $200 to open an account (In best cases, you should have USD currency with you since many banks – do not exchange foreign currencies for USD).
When you open your account, you will get a debit card that can be used as an ATM card, as well as checks, if you’d like. You can find automatic teller machines (ATMs) almost everywhere in the USA. Just like in most countries, you must pay a fee if you withdraw cash from an ATM that does not belong to your bank. Debit and credit cards are the most popular payment method in the United States. It is highly recommended to have an international credit card. When opening your bank account, you should also request a secure credit card to help create a credit history.
After opening a U.S. bank account, you can begin to create what is called your credit history. You might ask “credit history, what’s that?” Your credit history is a record of your financial history and it is important in the USA if you are looking to buy a home or a car, apply for a new credit card, or do any kind of purchase or invest in large quantities.
The credit history is based on the following criteria:
Use of credit card: If you pay your credit card bill fully at the end of the month, you will have a good credit history.
Unpaid debts, bills, or on-time payments for all of your bills will affect your credit history.
Debt, insolvency or bankruptcy.
The average life of all your accounts: This is why it is important to open a bank account as soon as possible.
Number of credit cards.
With a secured credit card, you have the ability to get loans and build a good credit record. Unpaid bills are bad for your credit score. If you pay rent and electricity bill on time, your credit record will be positive.