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Immigration Guide To Relocating To The US For Work

Around one million immigrants arrive in the United States each year looking for a safe place to live for themselves and their family members. The opportunities available to new arrivals in the US are considerable in terms of the standard of living, education, and employment. It is also incredibly diverse, with immigrants living there from all over the world. Approximately 28% of immigrants living in the US are from a country in Asia, 25% originate from Mexico, 13% from Europe, Canada, and other North American countries, 10% from the Caribbean, 8% from Central America, 7% South America, 4% from the Middle East and North Africa and 5% from sub-Saharan Africa. In this article, we provide a relocation guide for migrants who wish to move to the United States for employment, focusing in particular on the work visa system

Understanding The Immigration System

If you have made the decision to move to the US from your home country, one of the first considerations is immigration. You will need a visa to travel to the US for work, but the type you need depends on your skills and the length of your stay. For the purposes of this guide, we will assume that you plan to move to the US to take up a permanent employed role. For this, you will need an employment-based visa, of which there are a number of sub-categories:

Employment First Preference (E1) visa: Priority Worker and Persons of Extraordinary Ability. The E1 visa is for:

  • persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics - these immigrants do not need a job offer and can file their own Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with USCIS,
  • outstanding professors and researchers, with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognised internationally. These immigrants need a job offer and to have their US employer file a petition form I-140 for them, and,
  • Multinational managers or executives. These immigrants also need a job offer and to have their US employer file a petition form I-140.

Depending on the employment visa category, which fits your skills, qualifications, and experience, you will most likely need to secure a job before coming to the US. The steps you and your employer will need to take are as follows:

  1. Secure a job offer in the United States (if this is necessary under your chosen route)
  2. The employer applies for labour certification approval from the Department of Labour
  3. Employer files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140
  4. Case sent by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to the National Visa Centre (NVC)
  5. A case number will be assigned by NVC
  6. When an applicant’s priority date meets the most recent qualifying date, the NVC will instruct the applicant to complete Form DS-260
  7. The applicant applies for a work visa and pays fees
  8. Application supporting documents sent to NVC (i.e. passport, photos, marriage/birth certificates, evidence of financial support, and medical exam forms).
  9. The applicant will be interviewed at a local US embassy
  10. Decision made on your application

Accommodation In The US

Most migrants will typically rent, even if they plan to purchase a property eventually. As of February 2021, the average rental price of a property in the US is currently around $1,124 per month. The price will very much depend on the location and number of bedrooms. Prices tend to be higher in affluent states such as Massachusetts and in the big cities of San Francisco, New York City, and LA. That said, the wages on offer are also correspondingly higher in these areas. In addition, if you choose to live in California, New York, New Jersey, or Maryland, you will be able to benefit from the rent control system, which keeps a cap on the amount landlords can charge.

When assessing your application, the landlord (or their agency) will need as much information as possible to determine your creditworthiness. As you will not have a credit rating in the US, it is advisable to bring your credit rating from your home country (if it is available) and other forms of proof of your ability to afford the rent, including your employment contract. You may also be expected to pay a higher deposit for your rental due to your lack of credit history initially.

Final Words

When planning your move to the US for work, remember to take into account other factors such as health insurance, setting up a new bank account, registering for a social security number (SSN) and card, and schooling. Because you will have a great deal to plan for, do consider engaging an immigration attorney who can manage the immigration process on behalf of you and your family. This will free you up to focus on what matters; securing employment and making sure you and your family can settle safely and happily in the US. We wish you all the very best with your new life in the US.

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