Immigration 101: Moving to the US from Europe: A Checklist for Expats
In today’s world, many of us are psychologically attached to our belongings. So, what does that mean when we need to move overseas? Do you take everything?
Moving from one country to another can be a real challenge, especially when you are moving an entire household. There is no need to face an international move with anxiety or extra expenses as long as you do plenty of planning and preparing.
As you plan your international move, there are many things to consider. Before you even choose a moving company, you need to figure out how you will be handling the move. What will you do with all your stuff? Will you have a garage sale? Will you rent a couple of storage units? What about getting a visa? Do you have a job lined up? What about the kids? The list of questions goes on and on. Read on for some helpful tips if you are planning on moving to the U.S. from Europe.
What to move with you
If you are making your move to the U.S. on a permanent basis, then you must decide what to pack up and take with you and what to leave behind. There may be things you just can’t live without, such as family heirlooms and antiques – so inquire with your moving company as to how to best ship them overseas. However, leave the appliances behind. That includes ovens, refrigerators, DVD players, and other household appliances. Remember, the U.S. and Europe have different voltages and plugs, which may not be compatible, even with an adapter. Do your research before you move, because shipping appliances can also be very expensive.
Getting a visa
If you haven’t already heard, getting an American visa can be tricky. The process is complicated and extremely technical. It can be a good idea to file multiple visa petitions, especially if you are planning on getting a green card through a family member already in the U.S. This can be useful if a waiting list gets long or your sponsor passes away. It is also important to be prompt for every scheduled appointment involving your visa petition; arriving late can cause months of delays.
As you are going through the visa process, it is crucial that you avoid visa violations, as the U.S. is very strict. Always read the fine print on your visa, green card, or work permit and be sure to follow the rules. Even the slightest violation can result in your deportation. Throughout the process, it is a good idea never to leave any loose ends. Keep a copy of all paperwork and track it.
Be prepared for the tax system
Did you know that the United States taxation system is one of the most convoluted in the world? While some states have only one tax regime, others may involve up to four levels of taxes, all for individuals. The tax rate that you will end up paying will be determined not only by your income over the tax year, but also where you live. If you are new to the U.S. tax system when you arrive, you may want to seek the advice of a tax professional.