Overview

The United States of America (U.S.A. or just U.S.), is a highly developed country composed of a federal district, 50 states, five major self-governing territories and various other possessions. It is one of the world’s oldest federal republics and, historically, has been known as an ambassador of democracy. The country is the founder of many known international organisations such as the United Nations, Organization of Monitory Funds and others. From the 1830s onward, a steady stream of immigration formed a pool of foreign-born persons unmatched by any other nation, due to which the United States is also characterised by an extraordinary racial and ethnic diversity.

Read more: Visit our Covid-19 Update – Going to the U.S. page for the latest news about moving or travelling there during the pandemic.

(Last updated: 29 January 2021)

Weather + Climate

Average temperatures of the U.S.’s spring months are 12°C (53°F) in March, 18°C (64°F) in April and 22°C (71°F) in May. Sometimes, some areas may face temperature drop or even thunderstorms by the end of April.

The summer period is considered the best time of the year and average temperatures are +29°C (84.2°F). Autumn is a truly universal season. In southern states, the average air temperature in September reaches up to 25°C (77°F). By the end of November it usually drops to about 10°C (50°F). In winters, from December to February, the average temperature is from +8°C – -1°C.

We Love

  • Business Innovations
  • National Parks
  • Ethnic food

We’re Not Fans of

  • Poor penal system
  • Flawed leadership
  • Inequality of wealth

Cost of Living

Average Cost of Living (as of 2021): US$4,526 for a family of 4 and US$2,589 for a single person per month

This average excludes house rent. They may vary with several factors like the number of members in a family, preferences and choices of accommodation.

Tax Rates

Taxpayers fall into one of seven brackets, which depends on their taxable income – ranging from 10 percent to 37 percent. As the U.S. tax system is a progressive one, higher taxes are imposed as income increases. For singles, the tax rate (as of 2021) is:

  • 10 percent for up to US$9,950 
  • 12 percent for US$9,951 to US$40,525
  • 22 percent for US$40,526 to US$86,375
  • 24 percent for US$86,376 to US$164,925
  • 32 percent for US$164,926 to US$209,425
  • 35 percent for US$209,426 to US$523,600
  • 37 percent for income above US$523,601

Capital Gains Tax
20 percent, these are those paid on any profits made from the sale of an asset and are usually applied to stock and bond transactions. The capital gains tax rate has recently been raised from 15 to 20 percent.


Visa + Employment Passes

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Employment Permits

Before you decide on relocating, take note on the main ways an individual can obtain residency and work authorisation in the United States:

  • Sponsorship by an Employer
  • Sponsorship by a close Family Member in the United States
  • The Diversity Visa Lottery Program
  • Asylum + Refugee Status
  • Investment

The main types of temporary U.S. work visas are the H-1B, E-2, and L-1.

  1. H1-B Speciality Occupation Visas. For individuals going to the U.S. to work in a professional-level position for a US employer. The visa has a 3-year validity, and can be extended up to 6 years.
  2. L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visas. The L-1 visa is used to transfer workers from a related foreign company to a U.S. parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office. There are two types of L-1 visas:
    • The L-1A for Executive/Managerial staff
    • The L-1B for Specialist Knowledge staff L-1 visas are valid for 3 years for the visa holder to work for the sponsoring employer. L-1A visas are extendable to 7 years maximum, and L-1B visas can be extended to 5 years maximum
  3. E Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor Visas. These are applicable for those working in companies that are registered as Treaty Traders or Treaty Investors (i.e. those which undertake substantial trade with, or have made substantial investment in, the U.S.A.) Generally, the validity for E visas is 2 years; and they can be renewed to extend your stay indefinitely.

Job Seeker Sites
To stand a better chance, do look out for networking opportunities with companies that you are interested in, check out some of the online job portals or professional and trade associations.

Indeed | Careerbuilder | Dice | Linkedin | US.jobs

Visa + Citizenship

There are four main categories of U.S. visas:

  • Non Immigrant Visa: for temporary visits (e.g. business, tourism, work, studying or visiting family)
  • Immigrant Visa: for foreign nationals to immigrate to the United States with the intention to live and work permanently. At the US port of entry, the immigrant visa holder will be processed for a I-551, permanent resident card (which is also referred to as a ‘Green Card’). Once endorsed with a CBP admission stamp, this serves as temporary I-551 granting permanent residence for a year. For a child who is admitted to the United States holding an IR-3 or IH-3 visa, they will automatically become a United States citizen and be processed for a certificate of citizenship (N-560)
  • Dual intent visa: One that allows to make concurrent application for permanent resident status, or with the intent to apply for permanent residence
  • Employment Visa: An employment visa may be described as a three-step process in most cases. First, the employer must obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor before filing an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request the relevant category visa for the individual. If the employer’s application is approved, the individual will be authorised to apply for a visa. After application, the individual will be usually interviewed at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the native country. If the embassy or consulate grants the visa, the individual is then allowed to travel to the U.S.

Work Permit Process for Foreigners

You need to fill out a one-page form. The form you will use to apply for a work permit is Form I-765, available for free download on the USCIS website. Most of the form is self-explanatory. Attach the photos, and documents proving you’re eligible.For that you’e to figure out that in which category do you fall and have to attach the documents as the proof. Attach the fee, you will pay by check or money order (not cash) if you mail your application. If you e-file, you can pay by credit card, debit card, or electronic transfer of funds from a checking or savings account from a U.S. bank and then submit it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Either by mail or by “e-filing” (online, through a computer). But you’ll still need to mail in your supporting documents.

Make a complete copy of everything in your packet, even the checks, before sending it.

Job Opportunities

Average Salary (as of 2021): US$94,700 per annum

Top Industries: Technology, Health, Media, Consumer Retail


Housing Rental

Average Overall Rental (as of February 2021): US$1,124 per month

As with most countries, expats will need to sign a tenancy agreement which is known as a lease, and these vary between landlords but the paperwork is fairly comprehensive and they will usually have to pay an application fee.

Most landlords will also ask for references which an expat can get from their employer, and also proof of ID for which they can provide a passport or a driver’s license. Some landlords might also request a copy of the expat’s credit report which may be an issue for those who don’t have a credit history in the U.S., but it may be possible to provide one from their home country, particularly if they bank with a financial institution with a U.S. presence such as HSBC or Citibank.

Housing + Connectivity

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Buying Property

Average Sales House Price (as of 2021): US$408,800

Expats should also appreciate that the lack of a credit history in the U.S. may mean a landlord will demand a security deposit that equals two or three months’ rent.

However, a letter from an expat’s employer should help in this regard which will give details of the expat’s employment and ability to pay rent.

Once they have been accepted as a tenant, they will need to pay a security deposit as well as a month’s rent in advance. Most landlords are looking for tenants to sign a one-year lease but there are options for shorter leases from apartment communities offering corporate housing, for instance, though they tend to be much more expensive to rent.

At the point you find a property that you would like to make an offer on, the agent will undertake a Comparable Market Analysis which will inform your offer price. You will receive a Seller’s Disclosure report, which includes all the physical problems and defects that the seller is aware of. There is no legal requirement to disclose issues the seller is unaware of, so you cannot sue them for defects after purchase that they cannot reasonably have known about.

If the property was built before 1978, Federal law requires buyers to receive the following before they are obligated under contract to buy the property:

• An EPA-approved information pamphlet, called Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home, to inform on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards
• Any known information about the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the home or building
• A contract that includes a “Lead Warning Statement” with confirmation that the seller has complied with all notification requirements
• A 10-day period for conducting a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards, which may include investigation from a certified inspector. The involved parties can have a mutual agreement in writing, to shorten or lengthen the time period for inspection. The purchaser have the option to waive this inspection opportunity

An offer to buy a property is made in writing, which may be accepted or prompt a counter-offer. This stage can be repeated. At the point both parties are in agreement, the offer or the counter-offer which has been agreed will become the contract which is ratified, and you are now under a legally enforceable contract. The inspection period, typically 14 days, should be agreed in advance of contract acceptance, which is the point the inspection period starts.

The purchaser now pays a deposit, called Escrow Money or Escrow, into a Trust. The purchaser chooses the escrow office/account; it is normal, but not compulsory, for the title company doing the closing to hold the escrow. The title company is usually chosen by the party purchasing the title insurance. At closing, the Escrow will be removed from the Trust and paid to the seller as part of the purchase price.

A Home Inspection is carried out, paid for by the property purchaser and within the agreed inspection period. Any repairs needed can then be negotiated between seller and purchaser. These inspections will include lead based paint investigation, termite inspections, and Appraisal (valuation) of the property for the mortgage company.

All the processing checks for the purchase of your property takes place at the office of a title company. The ownership of the property and their right to sell is confirmed, and any outstanding claims against the property should be identified.

Some purchasers hire an attorney to undertake these checks, but most people don’t. Every state has a lawyer referral service, and you should expect your lawyer to be a member of the American Bar Association. Expats have additional legal checks to cover including proof of right to residency, and may feel more secure having their paperwork processed by lawyers. Different states have different rules about tax and inheritance, and if you own a property this becomes an important issue.

The process of transferring ownership of the Property and Title and the associated funds, will differ between States. It will often involve registration at the county court house, and becomes a matter of public records. It is best to use professionals local to the State where the property is located, so that the correct procedures and laws are followed.

It is mandatory to purchase home owner’s insurance for your new home, whilst private mortgage insurance is discretionary and may be a good choice for some households but not others.

Make sure you get a written quote from the removals firm in advance of the moving day, as they have been claims of firms demanding higher payments once the furniture is in their van. If you are moving from one State to another, a U.S. Department of Transportation number is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, so you can check with them whether the removals firm is licensed. For moves within a State, requirements vary between state, county or local consumer affairs agencies.


Mobile Network Providers

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Internet Service Providers

Average Internet Bill (as of August 2020): US$56.60 per month

These are some of the internet providers in US:

  • Altice USA (including Optimum Online and Suddenlink Communications) AT&T Internet Services
  • CenturyLink
  • Charter Communications
  • Cable One
  • Comcast High Speed Internet

Utilities Cost

Average Mobile Phone Bill (as of August 2020): US$15 – US$30 per month

There are four major operators in the United States that offer wireless services nationwide. Two operators (AT&T and T-Mobile) provide service using the GSM standard, whereas the other two (Sprint and Verizon) primarily use CDMA. All four telecommunication companies also operate networks using LTE standard for their 4G services.

  • Verizon Unlimited Plan – US$80/mo for unlimited data, minutes, and text
  • AT&T Unlimited Data Elite – US$85/mo for unlimited everything
  • Sprint Unlimited Freedom – US$60/mo for unlimited everything
  • T-Mobile Magenta Max – US$85 for unlimited everything

Getting Around

Intercity Transport System

There are many different ways to get to various states. They include flying, driving, buses, Rails, Taxi, Uber or Lyft. The most economic way of intercity transportation is Lyft.

Driving in the United States

Driving in the United States is very common, with the majority of Americans using private automobiles as their primary form of transportation to their workplace. Each U.S. state has the authority to establish its own traffic laws and issue driving licenses. With that said, these laws are largely the same, and licenses obtained from different states are respected across the country. Americans drive on the right side of the road. There are regulations in place on driving behaviour, including seat belt requirements, speed limits, and passing regulations. Driving while intoxicated with alcohol is illegal in all jurisdictions within the U.S.

Overseas Driving License Law in Each State

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | District of Columbia | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin

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Public Transport System

Mean Transportation Cost (as of February 2020): US$5672.50 per annum 

Public transport
Some large U.S. cities provide different methods of public transportation, including buses, taxis or trains. Though, in most places, the efficiency of the public transportation is poor. The frequency of stops is low and they are not well connected. You will have to rely on your private car for transportation in most cases. Most people either travel with their own cars or ride-sharing services in the U.S.

Ride sharing and taxis
Taxis and Uber/Lyft are available. However, bear in mind that these companies may not be active in smaller towns.


Relocation Essentials

Here’s a quick guide to relocation essentials like banking matters, education and healthcare.

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Banking

The U.S. uses a Federal system which has been in play since 1913. There are over 12 regional federal reserve banks in the U.S. that help with the supply of money and other policies implemented. The banking system is one of the most regulated systems in America, which is why these 12 banks were created for the purpose. Opening a bank account in the U.S. is easy and hassle free. All you need are:

  1. Full name
  2. Address
  3. Telephone number
  4. Valid Passport
  5. I–94 Card
  6. I–20, DS-2019, or I–797 Approval notice
  7. A secondary form of Identification; driver’s license, or school ID

Once you have these available, you can open either a checking or savings account. A checking account allows you to frequently make deposits and withdraw from your account. The savings account is more suitable for long term deposits. If you’re an international student, it is recommended that you get a checking account.


Healthcare

There is no universal healthcare, so there are no health benefits provided to the citizens or visitors by the U.S. government. This means if you wish to receive medical care, you will have to pay for it.

Average Healthcare Costs (as of February 2020): US$5,000 per year

Healthcare in the U.S. is costly, where 32 percent of American workers are liable for medical debts. 28 percent of these workers owe a remaining balance of US$10,000 or more on their medical bills.

With health insurance, you get to receive most of your care from your “primary care provider” (PCP), who can be a nurse practitioner or a physician. You can choose a PCP who is a part of your insurance company’s network. Whenever you fall sick, require care for an ongoing condition, or need a physical exam, you should see your PCP.

An appointment is typically required to get medical care. Call your PCP’s office to make an appointment with your PCP and explain your condition. If you are sick or require urgent care, you may be scheduled for an appointment very soon. But if you just need a routine physical exam, you might have to wait for several weeks or even a month.

Some global health insurance plans you might want to consider are: IMG Global Medical Insurance, Cigna Global Health Options and GeoBlue Xplorer Health Plans. In some cases, the beneficiary might be required to pay high or low amounts alongside the insurance deductibles to foot the bills.

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Primary and Secondary Schools

Students in America attend primary and secondary school for 12 years in total, which are referred to as the first through twelfth grades.

Typically at the age of 6, children start to attend primary school, which is also commonly referred to as “elementary school.” Five to six years later, they will move on and continue their academic journey into secondary school.

Secondary school comprises of two programs: “middle school” or “junior high school” and “high school.” Once the student graduates from high school (12th grade), they will be awarded with a diploma or certificate. Thereafter, students may continue their studies at a college or university, known as “higher education”.

Education

International students are faced with plenty of options offered by the American education system. With a wide variety of schools and programs across the country, the options may be overwhelming.. As such, while you begin your school search, get yourself familiarised with the American education system so you can narrow down your choices and start developing your education plan.

Higher Education

1. State College or University
A state school in the U.S. is supported and governed locally by a state or local government. There is at least one state university in every U.S. state, apart from a number of state colleges. Many of these public universities bear the name of the state they are in, or include the actual word “State” in their names: such as, the University of California San Diego and Washington State University.

2. Private College or University
These schools are privately run and funded as opposed to being overseen by a branch of the government. School fees and tuition are typically higher compared to state schools. They also have a smaller size than state schools.

Religiously affiliated colleges and universities are also considered to be private schools. Most of these schools are open to students of all religions and beliefs. However, there are still schools that have a student admission preference for those who share the same religious beliefs as what the school was founded on.

3. Community College
These are colleges that students attend for two years and graduate with an associate’s degrees (transferable) and certifications. There are different types of associate degrees, but the key factor is whether the degree is transferable. Typically, there will be 2 primary degree tracks: one for academic transfer and one that prepares students for immediate entry into the workforce. University transfer degrees are usually the associate of arts or associate of science. On the other hand, degrees that are least likely to be transferrable are usually the associate of applied science degrees and certificates of completion.

It is common for graduates from community colleges to transfer to 4-year colleges or universities to complete their degree. Since they are able to transfer the credits earned during community college, they are able to complete their bachelor’s degree program in another two years or more. Many colleges also offer intensive English language programs or ESL (English as a Second language), which will help prepare students for university-level courses.

4. Institute of Technology
They are generally research-intensive, technologically focused universities with a minimum 4-year study on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Some schools have graduate programs, offering up to PhD or DSc degrees, while others offer short-term courses.


All Things U.S.A.

Here are more facts and information we think it’d be useful for you!

Famous Things

  • Statue of Liberty
  • Grand Canyon
  • The Super Bowl

Fun Facts

  • There’s no official language
  • The U.S.A. uses 18 percent of the world’s energy
  • The United States invented the internet
  • At some point, 1 out of every 8 Americans will work for McDonald’s

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do tip for good service
  • Don’t assume that you can smoke anywhere
  • Be punctual, always
  • Don’t use american slang
  • Do obey traffic rules
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Holidays

National Public Holidays include:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Washington’s Birthday aka President’s Day
  • Easter Sunday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Keen to connect with international relocation experts? Find out how Moovaz, our parent company, can help.

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