There is no doubt that the USA is among the most sought-after destination for immigrants from around the world, if not the most popular choice. One thing is certain — as a nation, the United States of America has been shaped by its immigrants more than any other.
People seeking more out of life are attracted to the States for many reasons. The United States provides not only a variety of career opportunities but also a unique cultural landscape and endless opportunities for self-fulfillment and adventure.
Do you dream of moving to the United States, or are you already planning to do so? In either case, we have just the guide for you! Learn everything you need to know about moving to the US, including visa requirements, living costs, entry procedures, and which documents to prepare.
Visa Requirements for Emigrating to the US
Every US immigrant wishing to find legal employment must have a residence and work permit. Consequently, if you plan to live in the United States permanently, you need to apply for a Green Card.
The annual Green Card Lottery, conducted by the US Government, is the most convenient way to get a Green Card. Participants worldwide are randomly selected to receive 55,000 Green Cards every year.
Green Card Lottery participation requirements are so low that almost anyone can participate. You only need a high school diploma or equivalent (or at least two years of experience in a qualified field) to qualify.
You can get a Green Card in other ways. However, they are often associated with unreasonable waiting times and heavy requirements. The alternative routes include:
- Employment in the United States
- Family reunification
If you do not qualify for any Green Card paths listed here, employment immigration is also possible with a work visa (e.g., L-visa or E-visa). Unfortunately, obtaining a Green Card from a work visa is not a straightforward process for non-specialists, so it is best to consult immigration lawyers.
Costs of Emigration to the US
Your personal journey will determine how much money you need to emigrate to the US. For example, if you’re lucky enough to win a Green Card through the lottery, you won’t have to worry about visa-related costs. On the other hand, getting a green card through investment could cost an enormous amount.
All that being said, with every immigration to the USA, regardless of the path to the Green Card, some basic costs such as medical examinations, translations, government agencies, and physical moving to the US must be incurred. You can examine the various fees in this document published by the Department of Homeland Security.
Cost of Living in the US
If you know even a little about how the United States is structured, you’ll know that the cost of living in the US is not exactly a uniform concept. It varies significantly from state to state. Statistically, households in New York City need about $128,700 per year to live comfortably, and homes in San Antonio, Texas, need about $78,700.
Homeowners have a better standard of living (for instance, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) or a worse standard of living (for example, in Los Angeles, California) than renters, depending on where they live. You should consult the Economic Research and Information Center’s Cost of Living Index when deciding where to live in the United States.
Cost of Living Index Explained
The US Cost of Living Index compares the quality of life in different parts of the country. This is accomplished by comparing housing, goods, and services costs, categorizing them, and weighing them based on the local average income.
An index of 100 represents the national average. A region with an index higher than 100 is considered expensive, while an area with less than 95 is considered affordable.
The image above shows that you’ll need a high income if you want to live in the Northeast of the United States or on the West Coast. The Midwest and the South, like Texas and Georgia, are, however, relatively affordable areas.
But the cost of living is not the only parameter you should focus on. Those who immigrate to the USA can choose from 50 diverse states. You’ll find everything in the USA, from paradise beaches through arctic wildernesses, to hippie desert states.
Discover if a particular state has a mild climate, if local companies are potential employers, how long the commute takes, or if the demographics are favorable for starting a company.
You will have a more relaxed start to your new American life if you prepare for your emigration well. Take the following steps to prepare.
Gather the Necessary Documentation
When applying for a Green Card, renting a house, applying for a driver’s license, obtaining a Social Security Card, opening a bank account, and getting a credit card, you will need a number of documents. Get ready by preparing the following:
- Translations of all diplomas and certificates
- International driver’s license
- Bank statements
- Translations of tax assessment notices and other financial documents
- Vaccination certificates
Your Social Security Card can also be obtained at the US Embassy or Consulate if you are in a hurry. That said, we recommend waiting until you’re in the US, as this is easier to do on the spot.
Gather Licenses and Proof of Qualifications
What are the requirements for your profession in the United States? Are you required to register, provide certifications, or present a diploma? A nurse, teacher, physical therapist, realtor, doctor, or police officer might be subject to this rule.
Depending on your profession, you may have to undergo advanced training after emigrating to the USA. Here are some examples of occupations that require additional qualifications in the US:
- Seller’s permit or general business license
- US Medical Licensing Exam
- NCPT certification (for physical therapists)
- State certification (for teachers)
- Associate nursing degree
You can learn more about the requirements for practicing your profession in the United States via the Department of Labor career search engine.
Take a Language Course
You may also want to polish up your English via a course specializing in your profession so you’re completely up-to-date on the latest jargon. If you’re not willing or able to find such a course in your area, there are many different smartphone apps you can use to brush up on your English skills in a fun and effective way.
A basic understanding of Spanish is also of great value in many parts of the United States! For this reason, you should consider booking a multi-language premium package when enrolling in a language course.
Our final advice is not to be afraid to ask for help from qualified immigration professionals.
Immigrating to the United States can be highly complicated. In many cases, first-time emigrants seek assistance long before hiring a relocation company, realtor, or job broker. It is challenging for potential immigrants to deal with US authorities because of the many bureaucratic pitfalls and hurdles. That is why we recommend consulting legal professionals that specialize in this field.