Whether you work for a company that’s transferring you or you’re moving your business to the United States, it can be overwhelming. The United States is a place that definitely stands alone in lifestyle and culture in many ways.
For example, if you’re coming from the EU, you might not own a car, and you might not even drive. In the U.S., unless you’re in an urban area with good public transportation, you’re going to have to figure out how to commute. You may need to get a car and take your driver’s license test to do so.
Your driver’s license is valuable in the U.S. beyond the fact that it lets you drive a car. It’s also the primary form of identification you’ll likely use in the country, so it’s a good idea to get one sooner rather than later.
Discussing the potential that you’d need to get a license in your new home country also brings up the concept of bureaucracy. There can be a lot of red tape in certain areas of life in the U.S., and the DMV is a good example of that.
You’ll face plenty of long lines and the need for lots of documentation.
America is not a compact country like many European countries, and that can make for interesting domestic travel experiences, but it can also logistically be challenging.
The following are some other things to know about moving to America, particularly for work.
The States Are All Very Different
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to understand just how different each state in the U.S. is. There are also regional differences.
As an example, if you’re moving out west to a state like California or Washington, cannabis is legal, whereas, in the south, it’s typically not and can still get you in quite a bit of legal trouble.
While learning about the U.S. as a whole is important from a legal standpoint, for example, to figure out what documentation you’ll need, it’s just as important to research the state and even the city you’re going to be moving to.
American Work Visas
You’re going to need a visa or permit to work in the U.S. If your company is transferring you, they may help take care of most of this for you. You can visit the State Department’s website if not to learn more about the different types of visas and figure out which applies to you.
If you’re only going for a short time to the U.S. and you have a specific business purpose for going there, you may not need a visa, but only if you’re from a country covered by the American visa waiver policy.
If you’re going to the U.S. to work permanently, you may need an E-type visa, which means employment-based.
There is a limit on how many are given each year so you can only get an E-type visa if the quota’s not reached yet when you apply. There are also different categories based on priority level.
To get this type of visa, you already need to have a job waiting for you and your employer will need the Department of Labor to provide them a certificate of approval.
It can take quite a while for a visa to be processed, so start getting ready early.
Before you go to your interview at the visa center, you’ll need a passport that’s valid for at least six months, a completed Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application and two passport-style photos. You’ll also need to have completed your Medical Examination Forms and be able to show proof of financial support.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you might either come as an immigrant or go the nonimmigrant visa route. Coming as an entrepreneur can be more challenging than coming as an employee of a company, so you might want to talk to an attorney who specializes in immigration law.
Finally, depending on where you’re coming from, the health insurance system may be quite a bit different from what you’re used to. The best case has your employer paying the cost of your health insurance, but otherwise, you’ll have to purchase it.
The healthcare system is a combination of private and state-funded insurance, and even with insurance, when you go to the doctor, you’ll likely have to pay which is called a co-payment. If you’re paying for your own insurance, you’ll also pay a premium and there are two federal insurance programs called Medicaid and Medicare.