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5 Major Decisions for New Immigrants to the United States

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5 Major Decisions for New Immigrants to the United States

Whether you’re transferring here for work or taking an extended stay with your family, coming to live in the United States can be a thrilling experience as you find your place in a new land filled with promise and possibilities.

But once your “honeymoon period” ends you might become frustrated with the complexities of living abroad in a country that’s much different from your homeland. There will be all kinds of important decisions to make as you learn your rights and start to get involved in your American community.

Let’s say you’re a chemist working for Eli Lilly and Company in Spain and you’re transferring to work at the Lilly Corporate Center in Indianapolis. Here are five important decisions you’ll make as you adjust to life in the American Midwest.

  1. Renting vs. Buying:

    Housing will be one of your most important decisions. Should you rent an apartment near the Lilly Corporate Center or buy a home in an Indianapolis suburb? Renting a house or apartment might be a good choice if your work assignment is for a limited timeframe such as a year or two. However, if you’re immigrating to the U.S. for the indefinite future, you might want to consider buying a home.

    Learn more about this housing decision in “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants” by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  2. Health Insurance:

    Another of your most important decisions will involve taking care of your health while you’re here in America. Many visitors are shocked at how expensive U.S. healthcare can be compared to medical care in their home countries. Your first step will be to determine whether you have existing coverage here in the U.S. such as employee coverage through a company like Eli Lilly.

    If you’re just starting your life in the U.S., there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself without health insurance for a short period of time. You might want to consider buying a temporary health insurance plan for immigrants that will cover you during your transition period.

  3. Banking:

    You’ll also need to open a checking account at an American bank or credit union; this action will not only give you access to your money but will help you build credit with American creditors that can help you get a loan, among other things.

    Choose a bank with at least one branch near where you’re planning to live. Bring your identification documents with you when you visit a bank to open an account. Call before you visit to determine exactly which identification documents that bank will require.

    For more information on establishing your credit, read “9 Credit Building Tips for U.S. Immigrants.”

  4. Employment:

    If you’re an Eli Lilly chemist, then you’ve already got a stable job with a strong company. But other U.S. visitors will soon find themselves looking for employment. You’ll want to consider your international experience such as the degrees you’ve earned or the languages you speak as you craft your resume. Networking with other people through meet-ups or professional networking events will also be important in your job search. Here are 10 tips from MSN Careers to help you with your first U.S. job hunt.

  5. Education:

    If you’re a parent, you’ll want to enroll your children in an American school. Consult your state’s Department of Education to learn about the required ages for school attendance. You’ll be able to send your child to a public or private school. Public school is free and its curriculum is set by the state, while families pay a tuition fee for children to attend private schools that can follow a different curriculum.

These are just a handful of the most important decisions that you’ll have to make as you adjust to life here in the United States. Whether you have a family or not, you’ll want to get your health insurance squared away so you’re not stuck paying a large bill for emergency medical care.


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