Before You Move
Negotiating expat packages
- Key Points to Cover During Expatriate Contract Negotiation
- Tip: If you are moving to the US from a lower-tax country, ask about tax protection (or tax equalization). Make sure you also get tax consultation before you move, to avoid getting hit by a surprise tax bill on your existing non-US investments. Ask for tax preparation assistance while you are in the US.
Choosing the right type of US visa
- Tip: L1 intra-company transfer visas are better for expats, because your spouse can work with an L2 dependent visa. H1B dependents cannot work.
- Introduction to the L1 visa for intra-company transfers
- Comparison of L1 and H1B visas
During your house-hunting or preview trip
Packing for your move
- Get to know the neighborhood. Try getting around on different forms of transit. Will you need a car?
- Open a bank account. This will allow you to transfer some money prior to your move, and you'll be ready with checks to use when you do your final move.
Packing for your move
- Tip: Handcarry valuables and important documents. If you are staying in serviced apartments until your shipment arrives, you won't need to bring as much with you.
- What NOT to pack in your shipment: Prohibited and Restricted Items
- Plan ahead and put about 6-8 weeks' worth of living expenses into a bank account that you can access via US-based ATMs, plus cash for one-time moving expenses. This is important in case there are any payroll problems during your transfer.
- Maintain at least one home country credit card. With no US credit history, it may be a while before you can get a substantial credit limit on a US credit card. Before you leave, ask your home country credit card issuer if they can 'transfer' your credit history over to a US account, or help you get a US credit card.
- If you think you might need to buy a car, consider getting cash ready to transfer to a US account in case you are not able to get a good car loan rate.
After You Arrive
As soon as you arrive
- Apply for your social security number. It's best to wait 48 hours before applying, to give your entry time to show up in their system.
- Do your Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9). Your I-9 must be verified within 3 business days of starting employment.
- After you get your SSN, apply for your state driver's license.
- Apply for an Employment Authorization Document so your spouse can work with their L2 visa.
- Tip: For expats, it is easier to open a bank account and get a US credit card at a branch of the same bank you use back home, or through a credit union affiliated with your employer.
- Begin building your credit history. Apply for a US credit card. If your home country bank isn't able to help you, you will probably have to start with a secured credit card. Most banks will return your security deposit within a year or so, when you 'graduate' to a regular card.
Applying for a Green Card
When you are ready to file for your green card
- For qualified international transferees, EB-1C (multinational manager) is typically the most recommended green card category
- EB-1C, like the L1 visa, requires you to have worked for your petitioning employer for at least 1 year outside the US, and to have been employed in a managerial capacity, prior to applying.
- If all goes well, EB1-C applications typically take 5-6 months from the time your employer submits your application until you receive your card. US CIS publishes a table of estimated processing times.
After you file your application
- Once you have your receipt number, you can check your case status online, and set alerts to notify you automatically when your status is updated.
- You can track progress of similar cases by looking them up on Trackitt's handy immigration trackers.
After You Receive Your Green Card
After you receive your green card
- Re-verify your I-9.
- Update your social security card with your new work status.