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“I want to move to America” – 7 things to consider when pursuing the American dream
There are plenty of reasons why more than one million people are moving to America every year. With major cities like Los Angeles and New York offering well-paid jobs and stacks of cultural attractions, there’s plenty to do and achieve. The Florida sunshine makes the state an ideal place to retire, while San Francisco’s Silicon Valley is the world’s technology centre.
While the United States has its fair share of problems, nowhere else is likely to dislodge its crown as the land of opportunity any time soon. Taxes are low, food is cheap, the weather is excellent and places like the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite mean there’s no shortage of marvellous places to see on holiday. Moving to the United States remains a dream for millions. So how can you do it?
Get the right visa
Living in the USA means working in the USA for most people, so getting a work visa is a vital pre-requisite. Relocating with a job is one of the most popular methods for expats – the H1-B visa is used for skilled workers – often in IT – although these are released in one go every year and are often snapped up within days. Those looking to study or teach can apply for a J-1 visa.
If you’re in a career that is in demand, you may be able to get a Green Card allowing you permanent residence in the USA. Otherwise, there’s always a lottery to win one of 50,000 Green Cards – although 15m people apply.
Pick the state that’s right for you
America is a big place and there’s room for all kinds of people. If you never want to see snow again, head south. For a relaxed pace of life, the west coast is great. To be in the thick of things, go to the eastern seaboard. All the options have their advantages and drawbacks, so…
Take a look before you move
Many companies offering a transfer or international assignment will allow employees to make a reconnaissance visit before they go to the trouble of packing up and moving out. It’s also worthwhile for people going under their own steam – check out schools, neighbourhoods and local amenities in your chosen location.
Make sure your qualifications are accepted
Anyone looking to make a permanent move to the USA who is planning to work should be aware that their qualifications may not be automatically accepted. Degrees or specialist qualifications – such as in the medical profession or other professions with certifications – may need to be transferred and recognised by the local authorities in whichever state you choose.
Be prepared to leave your electronics behind
The USA is unusual, the global context, for using a 110 Volt supply instead of the 240V supply common in Europe and most other parts of the world. While Americans suffer more coming the other way – a higher voltage may well fry their equipment – it means that electronic goods like TVs may not work properly. Warranties are often voided when taking large items out of the country of purchase so it may be easier to sell or give away your old things and kit yourself out with new goodies when you arrive.
Get used to tipping
Tipping is everywhere in the USA, and it can take some getting used to for new arrivals. The etiquette of who to tip and how much are seldom spelled out so it’s worth asking friends and colleagues for advice.
Figure out your tax situation
You become resident for tax purposes in the United States after three years even if you’re not a US citizen in certain circumstances. The Internal Revenue Service rules can seem arcane and vary from country to country, depending on whether or not your country of origin has a tax treaty with the US. Even if you’re not planning to stay long-term, understanding your options and obligations is crucial to having efficient and legal tax affairs.
Santa Fe makes moving to the United States as easy as American pie. We provide full support for people looking to relocate to America from the UK. For advice and information please get in touch today – just click the link through to our Contact Us page.