Getting a Green Card is just the first step on the journey of living in the USA. Along with learning the culture, you’ll also need to pick up some important documents to make settling down easier.
So, if you’re a foreign national who hasn’t long moved to the country, here are some essential tips to make living in the USA simpler and more enjoyable.
Obtain a Social Security Number
Anyone living in the USA will tell you how vital a Social Security Number is. Your SSN is the basis for everything from tax and banking to employment and finding somewhere to live. Without an SSN, there’s very little you can do in the USA.
You can apply for an SSN during your Green Card application by filing Form DS-260. If you do this, the Department of State will issue you an SSN card soon after you arrive in the country. Those adjusting their status will also have to follow this process.
However, you can still apply for an SSN after receiving your Green Card. To do this, go to your nearest Social Security Administration office with all of the necessary documentation. This includes your passport and birth certificate, among other things.
Without a Social Security Number, you are unable to apply for credit, purchase a home, open a bank account, or other things that you will need for everyday life. So, as you can imagine, it’s one of the best places to start after arriving in the country.
Apply for a Driver’s License when living in the USA
Another of the most important essential tips is to obtain a driver’s license. It’s accepted as ID in most places and, of course, is necessary if you want to drive anywhere. Considering the size of the USA and how far apart things are, driving is the common way to get around.
If you already hold a driver’s license in your native country, you have up to 90 days to convert it into an American one after establishing residency. Unfortunately, this means going through the full process, as the USA doesn’t have any kind of fast-track or conversion for licenses.
Also, make sure your state will actually let you obtain a driver’s license. Most will, and it largely depends on your current residency status. It’s worth checking in more detail, though. Providing you can, you’ll need to visit your local USA DMV center to begin the application. It involves taking a written and a practical test.
Once you receive your driver’s license you should submit your driving record from your country of origin in advance of acquiring a car. Provided your driving record is clean, it should help reduce the costs of car insurance. It’s a requirement of every car owner in the US and, unlike in some countries, Americans insure the driver, not the vehicle. Additionally, if you have a few years of driving experience behind you, it can also help when determining the cost of car insurance.
Acquire References – as many as you can.
This is one of the essential tips that you should try to solve before obtaining your Green Card. It’s much easier to do if you’re already living in the USA, but isn’t a massive issue if you don’t.
You’ll want to get character references from people that know you. Ideally, it should be employers, but teachers and friends can work, too. You’ll need references for everything from renting an apartment to getting a job and more. Of course, it’s helpful if your references live in the US, as some people will want to contact them.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t know anyone in the USA. However, if you’re moving there for work, make sure you speak to your future employer well in advance. They could either provide you with a reference suitable for renting or buying property, or help you find somewhere suitable.
Once you’re living in the USA, getting references will become easier the longer you stay there. Depending on your circumstances, you might find the first 12 months or so to be difficult, but finding references after that should be fine.
Get Your Credit Established when living in the USA
Once you have a Social Security Number and several forms of identification, you can begin to work on getting your credit established. You may already have established credit in your native country, but it, unfortunately, won’t do much for you once you’re living in the USA.
America’s credit system is one of the strictest in the world, thanks mainly to the 2008 financial crisis. American lenders are now more careful to who they lend money, meaning you’ll need plenty of evidence that you can repay debts.
There are several options for Green Card holders to get on the American credit ladder. The first is to get a secured credit card, as this is one of the best ways of building a credit score. Plenty of banks offer credit cards for people with no credit history, so you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get one.
Other options include getting a secured credit-builder loan. These aren’t traditional loans: the money is put into a savings account that you pay into monthly. At the end of the term, the lender gives you the money back. Some institutions offer these specifically for immigrants, too.
Finally, you have options like becoming an authorized user on a family member’s account or paying rent. Not all companies consider rental payments when looking at credit scores, but some do. You might not be able to sort this out when you start living in the USA, but it’s an option to consider in the future.
Learn to Speak English when living in the USA
It’s fair to assume that if you’re reading this article, you can already speak some English. However, formally learning English is one of the most essential tips for living in the USA. You can opt to attend language school or enroll in a college study course. If you want to, you can go for a language degree, in which case you can learn the English language and come out of the program having earned a college degree. This enables you to work as a translator or look at new opportunities in terms of employment.
Finally, if you do not yet have access to a PC or mobile device, you can go to the nearest public library to get free Internet access. This will help you to stay in touch with your family back in your country of origin and to do research as needed to help you with the daily skills you must learn once you are living in the USA.
Do your research on which of the 50 states you want to live in.
The United States of America has a total of 50 states which are all wonderful in their own way. If you don’t already have family or friends in the USA it can be challenging to find the right state to settle down in. Therefore have a look at our interactive map of where to live in the United States
Getting a Green Card and living in the USA is easy with a little bit of help from us.
There are numerous ways to obtain a Green Card, but our final essential tip is to try through the Green Card Lottery.
Apply for the Green Card Lottery using our service we will assist you in all of the above.