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10 steps to take immediately after moving to the USA

Фото: Depositphotos

Moving to the United States for permanent residence, the newcomer immigrant is faced not only with stress after entering a foreign country and a new language environment, but also with domestic problems. In a short period of time, a person needs to find accommodation, obtain identity documents, get a job and do much more. ForumDaily I prepared information on the 10 first steps you need to take upon arrival in America.

1. Obtaining an ID

The United States is the only country in the world whose citizens are not required to have passports to move within the country. Since almost everyone drives in America, a driver's license is used for identification (Driver license). If you do not drive a car, then you just need to get an identity card (Identification Card). They look almost the same, but the ID does not give you the right to drive a car. Moreover, both the driver’s license and the identity card are issued by the state, therefore, for example, in California and New York these documents may look a little different.

As a rule, you can obtain rights or an identity card at your local Department of Motor Vehicle Department (DMV). Names in different states may vary: Department of Road Transport (Department of Motor Vehicles), Department of Transportation (Department of Transportation), Motor Transport Directorate (Motor Vehicle Administration) and the Department of Public Security (Department of Public Safety). Addresses and phone numbers of these institutions can be found. here.

Each state has its own laws, which means that the requirements for documents may differ. But usually you will be required to have a document confirming your legal presence in the country (green card, corresponding US visa, I-94 form); identity card (green card, passport); proof of address (electric or gas bill, bank statement, etc.), social security number or a certificate stating that it is not required. The cost of ID is different in different states. After providing the necessary documents, the ID will be sent to you by mail within one to two weeks.

Obtaining a driver's license is a longer procedure. As in your home country, you will need to pass a test on a computer for knowledge of the theory and driving itself. Even drivers with experience and national driving license need to pass tests.

You can prepare for the delivery of the theory yourself - according to the book with the traffic rules of a particular state (Driver's handbook) - or in specialized courses that can be found on the Internet.

To pass on the right, you will also need to prepare documents: a residence permit (green card) or any other proof that you are in the country legally; national driver's license (if any), I-94 form, proof of address, social security number or certificate that it is not eligible, any form of confirmation that you are in the immigration process (for example, I-797).

Documents need to go to your local DMV office. You can make an appointment in advance on the site and not stand in the general queue.

After that, you pass a computer test and, in the case of its successful passage, a driving test. You can retake both tests, but you will pay for each attempt. Read more about this. here.

2. Obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN)

Social Security number is done up to two weeks. Photo:

SSN is a social security number. He is required to everyone who will legally work in the United States. An SSN is required to get a job, pay taxes, open accounts, get loans at a bank, own property, and, most often, get American driving licenses.

To get a social security number, you need to fill out a card application form (Form SS-5-INST-RU); provide original documents or copies certified by the institution that issued the document confirming the following: immigration status (including work permit), age; personality.

Eligible documents: I-551 Form, Green Card, Relevant Visa Permit in the USA, I-94 Form; Form I-766, work permit in the United States.

You must show your driver’s license or ID card to verify your identity.

After that, you should send the completed application and documents by mail or bring them personally to the local branch of the Social Security Service (the address of the nearest office can be found here).

Social Security number will come to you by mail within two weeks after filing. This is a completely free procedure.

Read more about this. here.

3. Medical insurance

Medical insurance should be done as soon as possible. Photo:

Insurance is included in the list of the most important tasks that need to be solved after arriving in the United States of America, along with finding housing, buying a car, finding work and choosing a good kindergarten or school. As Winston Churchill used to say: “I don’t know of a single family that went bankrupt by paying insurance premiums, but I know families that went bankrupt without doing this.” It is difficult to disagree with this, because even simple visits to a doctor can turn into a pretty penny.

Medical insurance is a contract concluded with an insurance company, according to which you pay a certain amount to the insurance company monthly, and she pays part or all of the medical expenses in case of your illness. For legal residents of the United States, health insurance is compulsory.

If you have not yet found a job, or your employer does not provide you with health insurance, you can purchase insurance for yourself and your family members yourself.

All existing insurance companies are called providers, that is, organizations that provide services, giving you the opportunity to purchase health insurance plans.

Companies are divided into two types - HMO (Health Maintenance Organizations) and PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations). Accordingly, insurance plans can also be NMO and PPO.

The cost of NMO plans is usually lower than PPO. However, there is a difference in the volume of services provided. More information about the specific features that distinguish the NMO and PPO, you can learn from various sources on the Internet.

There are also independent commercial providers on the health insurance market, as well as those that are providers of services provided under the current law. Affordable care (ACA), otherwise known as Obamaker.

Regardless of the name of the provider, they all provide a mandatory list of medical services, their plans have the same name, they have the same requirements when you make plans. All plans are divided into three main groups: free (Medicaid, Essential Plan III and IV), minimum monthly payments (Essential Plan I), paid depending on the annual income and family composition.

All insurance plans differ in such parameters as premium (the amount of the monthly payment) for those who are not entitled to receive a free plan. All other parameters, such as deductible (this is the amount that must be spent before your insurance starts) co-pay (fee for visiting the medical office, after which the balance is covered by the insurer) co-insurance (the percentage of expenses your insurance covers) out-of-pocket maximum (The maximum amount you spent on medical services during the year, after which the insurance will begin to cover your bills with 100%) is the same for all providers working in the Obamaker system.

Keep in mind that dental and ophthalmic insurance in most cases are purchased in addition to the main one.

The insurance plan is the second thing you need to decide on. In the medical services market (Marketplace) there are five basic plans - Medicaid and Essential Plans (for the poor), bronze (the plan pays bills for 60%), silver (the plan pays 70% of your bill), gold (the plan pays around 80%) and platinum (the plan pays 90% of the bill). Again, this is the most general information. In many cases, the real cost of various medical services can be fully paid by your provider.

If you choose a provider and insurance plan and at this stage pay everything yourself, be guided by your specific family situation (family composition, financial resources, income) and study the rating of insurance companies you are interested in. It would be useful to listen to the advice of old-timers, relatives and friends.

“When you start looking for insurance directly, pay attention to the fact that different states have different laws, and all the information you are interested in regarding insurance should relate to the state where you plan to live,” says Leonid Kopeikin, an insurance company specialist. Fidelis care.

“Insurance plans received from companies operating in the Obamaker system are subsidized by the government and can be either free or paid. The cost of insurance in the Obamaker system depends on the annual income and family composition, as well as on the immigration status of the applicants. Independent medical commercial insurance companies do not receive government subsidies, so the prices for insurance plans are higher than those of companies operating in the Obamaker system, ”says Leonid Kopeikin.

Health insurance is a voluminous, complex topic that you need to dive into and ask specific questions to specialists in the insurance industry. Representatives of the Russian-speaking team of the company Fidelis Сare We are ready to answer all questions and help in choosing the most appropriate health insurance plan for you.

External Relations Specialist Leonid Kopeikin: (347) 642-2993,

Read more about insurance. here.

4. Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account is one of the first steps after moving. Photo:

In America, it is customary to pay with credit or debit cards everywhere. Therefore, opening a bank account and receiving a card is one of the most important procedures after arriving in the States.

To open the settlement (kiểm tra tài khoản) or a savings account (saving account), you will need to visit a branch of one of the large banks with a large network of branches - Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, TD Bank, Capital One.

To open an account, the following documents are usually required: a foreign passport or identity card - ID or driver's license; social security number (if you already have one); any document confirming the address of residence and your ability to pay - an invoice for payment of utilities, an apartment rental contract, a letter from the employer; a certain amount that you immediately put into your account.

Keep in mind that you can open both an individual account and a joint account with your spouse or other person.

After opening an account, you will be given a temporary card, which you can use until you receive a permanent card. It usually arrives in the mail within 10-14 days.

Read more about opening a bank account. here.

5. Credit history

Without a credit card to live in the United States is impossible. Photo:

In America, people are greeted not by their clothes, but by their credit rating. It essentially reflects your financial reputation - how good you are with money, pay off loans on time, and live within your means. It is important both when buying a house or car on credit, and when applying for a job or looking for housing to rent.

The pattern is quite simple. The better your credit history and the higher your rating, the more favorable loan terms you can get. If your credit rating is bad or you have no credit history at all, you will not get a loan or get it at very high interest rates. Renting can also be difficult in this case - landlords want to make sure you pay all your payments in a disciplined manner and usually check your credit rating as well.

Typically, the rating is expressed in numbers from 300 to 850. A good credit rating starts at 700 points, a bad one - below 580.

The challenge for every new immigrant to the United States is to build a good credit history. To do this, you need to open credit cards and use them, even if you do not need them or do not feel bad about the very idea of ​​living on credit.

The first step in building a credit history from scratch is to go to the bank and open a regular checking account (kiểm tra tài khoản), about which we wrote in the previous paragraph. It is also worth opening a prepaid credit card at the bank (Secure credit card). It works like this: you put your money on this account, but you treat it like a loan, constantly replenishing the card with the amount spent. If the bank likes the way you manage your money, then soon you will have already opened an ordinary credit line. It is easiest to open such a prepaid card in Bank of America, Wells Fargo or US Bank... Another large bank - Chase - such cards, as a rule, do not open.

Some banks may issue a credit card even without a test prepaid card. But for this, you must first put a more or less substantial amount on a savings or checking account, hold it there for a while, and then contact the bank for a regular credit card.

Relatives can help in building a credit history.

“If an immigrant who just arrived in the US has relatives with credit cards who want to help, they can add him as a second user (Second user) of your credit card. Thus, a person's credit history will begin to build and his credit rating will grow, ”says Simon Bunyak, President of the company Credit for Lifehelping to build a credit history.

Simon also recommends that you do not spend an amount in excess of 30% of your credit line from a credit card and promptly pay off your debt. Thus, the financial institution will see that you are responsible for the loan.

Simon Bunyak. Photo: from the personal archive of Simon Bunyak

As soon as the immigrant has a more or less positive credit rating, banks begin to send pre-approved credit cards to the person. Simon Bunyak advises to be with them on the alert, because as soon as you fill out an application for a card, bank employees check your credit rating and it drops by several points. And if you submit several applications at once in a short period of time, you can, with your own hands, significantly derail your rating.

Read more about how to open a credit card and build a credit history. here.

In the second part Read articles about what you need to do, if you want to get a local education after arriving in the US, how and where to look for your first job, where to learn English and how to get a local mobile connection.

Material prepared in partnership with

Fidelis care

1-888-FIDELIS (1-888-343-3547)
External Relations Specialist Leonid Kopeikin: (347) 642-2993

Credit for Life

3550 Watt Ave Suite 412
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 990-1973

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8 tips how to build a good credit history in the USA

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Miscellanea Educational program life in the USA
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