Arguably one of the most popular countries in the world, the USA has long been a destination of choice for many globetrotters and travellers worldwide. Unsurprisingly, this fact also extends to Brits looking to relocate outside of UK shores.
Heralded as “The Land of Opportunity”, the USA poses many exciting possibilities for those looking to emigrate to the US. However, moving to the US is no small feat and requires a great deal of planning, preparation and paperwork.
Whatever your reasons for moving to the USA, if you’re serious about upping sticks and heading Stateside, there are a number of things you’ll need to get in order before you do.
In the post-9/11 landscape, national security in the US is understandably a very delicate and serious subject. Naturally, the United States Government is very cautious about who they allow to come into the country and, as such, moving to America requires a lot of due diligence.
The very first thing you need to consider when moving to America is getting a visa. Visas allow you the legal right to live, work and stay in a foreign country and the “Good Ol’ US of A” is no exception.
That being said, there is no “one size fits all” solution to travelling to the US and visas can be muddy waters to navigate, particularly when you stumble across tourist-related entry like the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA or student-related academic admin like the F-1 or M-1 visas.
With several different variations of the US visa to choose from, it’s important to know exactly which one applies to you before you begin your application. As a general rule, there are two primary forms of visa that are applicable to those looking to move to the USA.
- Nonimmigrant Visas
If you wish to move to the USA to work temporarily, the nonimmigrant visa is probably the one for you. That being said, according to the US Department of State, there are over 20 nonimmigrant visa types for those travelling to the US temporarily.
The US Government doesn’t issue work visas for casual employment, so a nonimmigrant visa application will often need to be accompanied by correspondence between your prospective employer and
For additional information on which nonimmigrant visa may be applicable to you, check out the following information from the UK US Embassy.
- Immigrant Visas
Commonly referred to as a “green card”, immigrant visas are typically applicable to those looking for permanent residence in the United States.
While the entry criteria can vary, common routes of qualification include an offer of permanent employment from a US company or sponsorship from an existing family already stateside.
However, while possession of a green card does grant permanent residency in the United States, it doesn’t allow you to stay in the US indefinitely. Even if you are authorised with a green card, you will still be required to renew it every ten years in order to maintain your status.
That being said, once you have lived in the US for at least five years, you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship; however, this naturally comes with a long list of terms and conditions attached.
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
In addition to the above, there is a third, less common option that is applicable to a small minority of those in the UK looking to apply for a US visa – namely the Diversity Visa (DV).
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is open to those from countries where there are historically low rates of US immigration and involves a random selection process.
The program itself is limited to just 50,000 annual entries, distributed among 38 countries in six geographic regions. No country can receive more than 7% of the DV allocation in any one year.
While UK citizens are generally excluded, those from Northern Ireland are not. Additionally, there are also possible exceptions if your spouse is a foreign national.
While the above information is a handy overview to follow for your, be sure to check with the official US Embassy & Consulates for the most up to date details at the time of your trip. Meanwhile, for more information on the types of immigrant/nonimmigrant visas available, visit the Travel.State.Gov for the full rundown.
Moving to America Checklist
Sadly, the application process for moving to the US can be a notoriously lengthy and frustrating process, meaning plenty of waiting around and prolonged periods of transitional purgatory.
Even after you have overcome that sizeable hurdle, don’t begin baking that apple pie and belting out the “Star-Spangled Banner” just yet – there is still plenty of work to do before you touch down on American soil and wave “Old Glory” with pride.
Before you can begin living the American dream, you’re going to need somewhere to live full-stop.
While this can be done online, relying on web images and second-hand accounts isn’t always the best course of action – especially when it comes to permanent accommodation.
As a stopgap, you may want to arrange temporary accommodation to live in when you arrive. That way, you can check out potential permanent residence in person before you commit to a property.
- Social Security
Another thing you will need to address once you arrive in the USA is an application for a social security number.
An SSN is a nine-digit number issued to you by the US Government that’s used to keep track of employment details, such as earnings and years worked.
If you have a US work visa, this process can’t be done in advance; however, it can be arranged easily in person at your local Social Security Admin office once you arrive.
- Health Insurance
Unlike in the UK, healthcare in the USA is privatised. As such, health insurance is required to cover the costs of any treatment you may require during your stay.
It’s not unusual for employers to contribute towards US health insurance costs, so be sure to check with your employer if they have you covered before you take out any unnecessary additions.
- Moving Possessions
If you are planning on taking many of your homely possessions with you, arranging transport for these items before you leave will be a necessary part of the process.
Naturally, this process will depend largely on what you plan on taking with you and your living arrangements once you arrive. Having a three-piece suite shipped over in a cargo freight to a hotel probably isn’t a good idea.
That being said, there are plenty of services online that can ship over boxes and suitcases full of smaller items. Better still, a lot of cargo companies will also handle customs clearance for you, which can make the process considerably easier.
Driving in the US is a lot more than just getting used to using the other side of the road. In fact, for UK ex-pats, it’s going to unsurprisingly involve even more paperwork.
While short-term visitors may be able to get away with their UK driving license accompanied by an International Driving Permit for rentals, UK citizens taking up permanent residence in the US will be required to get a driver’s license for the state they will reside in.
For additional information, check out the relevant state page on the Department of Motor Vehicles website for further details.
- Tying Up Loose Ends
While upping sticks and disappearing into the night may seem like a memorable way to make an exit, leaving without notifying the appropriate people can be a costly error.
To avoid accruing unnecessary bills for services you haven’t used long after you leave, be sure to sever ties with the relevant channels. Pay up your bills, inform any service providers and close any accounts you no longer need.
Money in the US
Like any big relocation, one of the main factors you will need to take into account when planning your move to America is how you plan on handling your money before and after.
Setting up a bank account in the US before you arrive can be a mammoth task to add to an already mammoth list. As such, it’s probably an avoidable chore you could do without and one best left for when you arrive.
In the interim, you will probably need to send money to the US before you leave, whether you’re paying for services, accommodation or simply transferring funds to a loved one on the other side.
Luckily, this is one part of the process that is refreshingly simple. With the help of Universal Partners FX, you can send money to the USA quickly, easily and hassle-free.
Our easy-to-use system allows you to achieve a safe, secure transaction in a swift and cost-effective manner. No hidden transaction fees, no strings attached.
To transfer money to the US, all you have to do is follow our simple three-step process:
- Register for free
- Secure your exchange rate
- We make your payment
At Universal Partners FX, we know that moving to the US is no easy feat and we’re more than happy to do the hard work for you when it comes to transferring money to the US.
Backed by a 5-star Feefo rating, you can rest assured that, with us, your money is in safe hands, leaving you to concentrate on making your American dream a reality.
For more information on moving to the US or to find out more about sending money to America, why not drop us a line today? Call 020 7190 9559 now to talk with one of our expert advisors or get in touch online by using the button below.
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