This article is reviewed regularly by Wego‘s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated June 2024

The U.S. stands as a beacon of opportunity for individuals aiming to work and live abroad. Cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are not only hubs of innovation and culture but also gateways to achieving professional and personal dreams.

The diverse climate, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes add to the allure, making America a coveted destination for many. Immigrating to the States opens up a world of opportunities, promising a life filled with adventure, growth, and endless possibilities.

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Read on with Wego as we explore various methods and options for moving to the United States for work and life, along with their requirements.

Moving to the United States

The journey to moving to the United States involves a complex process that requires careful planning and thorough preparation. Each step is crucial for a successful transition, from securing a job and navigating the visa application process to understanding legal, financial, and cultural nuances.

For further detailed information and government updates, visit the official website of the official U.S. government website.

US immigrant visa

Immigrant visas allow foreign nationals to live permanently in the United States. These visas can be categorized into several types based on employment, investment, and family sponsorship.

Employment-based immigrant visas

The following are some of the US employment-based immigration visa categories.

You can visit the official US Government website for more detailed information regarding this category of immigrant visas.

E1: Priority workers

This category is for individuals with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.

Requirements

  • evidence of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
  • outstanding professors and researchers must have at least three years of experience in teaching or research and must be recognized internationally.
  • multinational executives and managers must have been employed by a foreign company in a managerial capacity for at least one of the three preceding years.

Validity

Your visa can last up to 10 years with the possibility of renewal.

Fees

The filing fee for Form I-140 is USD 700.

Please note that additional fees may include a USD 1,140 fee for Form I-485 if you are applying for an adjustment of status.

E2: Professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability

This category is for individuals who hold advanced degrees or have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.

Requirements

  • advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate) or its equivalent.
  • exceptional ability demonstrated through significant achievements in the field.
  • labor certification is required unless applying for a National Interest Waiver (NIW).

Validity

Your visa can last up to 10 years with the possibility of renewal.

Fees

The filing fee for Form I-140 is USD 700.

Please note that additional fees may include a USD 1,140 fee for Form I-485 if applying for adjustment of status.

E3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers

This category is for skilled workers, professionals, and workers with less than two years of experience.

Requirements

  • proof of at least two years of job experience or training.
  • Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent for professionals.
  • labor certification is required.

Validity

Your visa can last up to 10 years with the possibility of renewal.

Fees

The filing fee for Form I-140 is USD 700.

Please note that additional fees may include a USD 1,140 fee for Form I-485 if applying for adjustment of status.

E4: Special immigrants

This category includes certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, and other specific groups.

Requirements

  • proof of qualifying service or employment.
  • various specific requirements are based on the sub-category.

Validity

Your visa can last up to 10 years with the possibility of renewal.

Fees

The filing fee for Form I-360 is USD 435.

Please note that additional fees may include a USD 1,140 fee for Form I-485 if you are applying for an adjustment of status.

E5: Immigrant Investor Program

This category is for investors who invest a minimum of USD 1.8 million (or USD 900,000 in targeted employment areas) in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

Requirements

  • investment in a new commercial enterprise.
  • creation of at least ten full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers.

Validity

Your visa can last up to 10 years with the possibility of renewal.

Fees

The filing fee for Form I-526 is USD 3,675.

Please note that additional fees may include a USD 1,140 fee for Form I-485 if you are applying for an adjustment of status.

Family-sponsored immigrant visas

Family-sponsored visas allow U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for immigration to the United States.

Immediate relatives

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens include spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents.

Requirements

  • proof of relationship to the U.S. citizen.

Validity

The validity of this type of visa is permanent.

Fees

The filing fee for Form I-130 is USD 535. Additional fees may include a USD 1,140 fee for Form I-485 if applying for adjustment of status.

Family preference categories

These categories cover other family relationships:

  • F1: Unmarried sons and daughters (21 and over) of U.S. citizens.
  • F2A: Spouses and children (under 21) of lawful permanent residents.
  • F2B: Unmarried sons and daughters (21 and over) of lawful permanent residents.
  • F3: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • F4: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 or older).

Requirements

  • proof of relationship to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Validity

The validity of this type of visa is permanent.

Fees

The filing fee for Form I-130 is USD 535.

Please note that additional fees may include a USD 1,140 fee for Form I-485 if applying for adjustment of status.

Other categories of immigrant visas

Diversity Visa Program

The Diversity Visa (DV) Program provides a limited number of visas each year to people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States.

Requirements

  • must be from an eligible country.
  • must have at least a high school education or equivalent or two years of work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years of training.

Application process

  • submit an entry at the  Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website during the specified registration period.
  • if selected, complete the online DS-260 application immediately to schedule an interview appointment at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • confirm your qualification
  • then submit your Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
  • prepare supporting documents as required and attend the scheduled immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • at the end of your immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the consular officer will inform you whether your visa application is approved or denied

Validity

The validity of this type of visa is permanent.

Fees

The application fee for the diversity visa program is USD 330.

Please visit the official US Government website for more detailed information regarding this category.

How to apply for a US immigration visa?

After choosing the type of visa for your job, you can proceed with the application.

Applying for a U.S. visa generally involves the following general steps:

  • file the petition: Your U.S. employer or sponsor must file the appropriate petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • approval and notification: Once the petition is approved, you will receive a notification from the National Visa Center (NVC) with instructions for the next steps.
  • complete Form DS-260: Fill out and submit Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application.
  • submit Supporting Documents: Provide the necessary supporting documents, including a valid passport, proof of employment or family relationship, and any additional documents required based on the visa category.
  • schedule an Interview: Schedule and attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
  • medical Examination: Complete a medical examination by an approved physician.
  • pay the Fees: Pay the required visa application and processing fees.

Living in the US

After successfully entering the United States, several necessary things to consider include obtaining a residence permit if your stay will exceed six months.

Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is essential for working, opening a bank account, and accessing social services in the U.S. Here’s a brief guide:

Eligibility
  • immigrants with permanent resident status
  • non-citizens authorized to work in the U.S.
Application process
  • complete Form SS-5: Download and fill out the application form.
  • gather required documents: Provide the following documents:
    • proof of age:
      • birth certificate or passport
    • identity
      • immigration documents
    • work authorization
      • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • submit application:
    • in-person: Visit your local Social Security office.
    • by mail: Send your application and documents to the local SSA office.
  • you will receive your SSN Card within 2-4 weeks via mail.

Please note that:

  • the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires original documents or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies or notarized copies are not accepted.
  • there is no fee to apply for an SSN.
  • keep your SSN secure to prevent identity theft.

Transportation

If you plan to drive, check whether your current driving license is valid or if you need to apply for a U.S. driving license. Familiarize yourself with public transportation options, including buses, subways, and trains.

Emergency contacts

It is beneficial to find someone local for immediate help or at least familiarize yourself with local help and assistance numbers in case of emergencies. Here are some important numbers:

  • General Emergency – 911
  • Police – 911
  • Ambulance – 911
  • Fire – 911
  • U.S. State Department – (202) 647-4000

Financial Aspects of Living in the US

The cost of living in the United States varies significantly depending on the location. Below are some key financial considerations to keep in mind:

Living cost

  • groceries: For a single person, groceries typically cost between USD 200 and USD 400 monthly.
  • dining out: An occasional meal at a mid-range restaurant might cost between USD 15 and USD 30.
  • miscellaneous expenses: Other minor expenses might add up to USD 50 to USD 100 monthly.

Please note that these are the basic necessities. Other factors, such as transportation, fuel, and healthcare, can be added according to your needs. The figures will increase proportionally if you are moving with your family.

Average salary in the US

Salaries in the United States vary depending on the type, nature, and level of employment. However, the median annual salary for full-time employees is approximately USD 53,000. Here are the average salaries for some popular jobs among immigrants:

  • IT and Software Development: USD 70,000 – USD 120,000
  • Engineering: USD 60,000 – USD 100,000
  • Finance and Accounting: USD 55,000 – USD 95,000
  • Healthcare (Doctors and Nurses): USD 60,000 – USD 150,000
  • Education: USD 45,000 – USD 75,000

Salaries tend to be higher in areas with a higher cost of living, such as New York City and San Francisco, and lower in areas with a lower cost of living.

Healthcare

Access to healthcare in the U.S. is typically provided through employer-sponsored health insurance plans. It is advisable to understand the healthcare options available to you and find a local primary care provider for any immediate medical needs.

The US income tax

The U.S. has a progressive income tax system with different bands. Here is a basic overview:

  • personal allowance: Up to USD 12,550 – 0% (tax-free)
  • basic rate: USD 12,551 to USD 50,000 – 12%
  • higher rate: USD 50,001 to USD 150,000 – 22%
  • additional rate: Over USD 150,000 – 24%

To effectively manage your finances in the U.S., seek guidance from financial advisors and utilize official resources for accurate information. Stay informed and proactive to navigate financial complexities with confidence.

Explore tailored financial tools and strategies to enhance your well-being and ensure a seamless transition to life in the U.S.

 

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