Seven common mistakes Russian-speaking immigrants make to the United States
The difference in mentality is a stumbling block for many immigrants, especially those who decide to move to another country in adulthood. Unfortunately, sometimes a lack of understanding of local peculiarities can lead not only to funny curiosities, but also significantly complicate adaptation, ruin a career and lead to the fact that a person may be generally disappointed in his decision to immigrate.
We tried to list the typical mistakes that Russian-speaking immigrants make in the United States, and which should be avoided whenever possible.
Finding informal ways
The modern American bureaucracy may indeed seem too slow and cumbersome - not even because it is worse than the system adopted in post-Soviet countries, but simply because in our home countries, practically none of us have encountered the sphere of immigration. However, obtaining immigration status is far from the only area in the United States where a clear procedure is provided. The job interview process, resume writing, and other areas are replete with unwritten rules. Of course, they can be violated, unlike formal legal procedures, but in this case, your chances of getting what you want are drastically reduced.
This abundance of rules and sometimes the priority of form over content often gives rise to a desire among people from the post-Soviet space to bypass the procedure and achieve results "through informal channels." We are talking not only about illegal actions, but also about attempts to solve the problem "by pull", to jump over some procedural subtleties, or simply to ask friends for a service.
However, it is important to be very careful here. Sometimes the interference of outsiders in your case is completely permissible - for example, you can always turn to the congressman in case of violation of your rights or in the hope of obtaining an early consideration of the immigration case. However, an attempt to abuse "informal" behavior will cause more negative reactions in the United States. Even in the work collective, attempts to get closer to colleagues can be perceived by Americans suspiciously: for example, as an attempt to hide their blunder, to find some "corrupt" way to level their unprofessionalism, weave intrigues, and so on. This does not mean that you will never be able to make good or even friendly relationships at work. However, it is better to do this gradually, looking closely at your colleagues in order to adequately assess whether a similar initiative comes from their side.
Newly arrived immigrants often idealize the United States and believe that the people here are extremely honest and law-abiding. However, honesty and law-abidingness are not always synonymous. Among Americans, it is indeed much more difficult to find swindlers in the Russian sense of the word, that is, criminals who openly break the law by deceiving you.
However, there are many examples here. untidiness in the gray zonewhen your counterparty does not formally commit a crime, but deliberately misleads you by trying to impose services or obligations that you did not ask for. Of course, you always have the opportunity to prove your case in court, but in practice, not everyone decides on such a waste of time and effort. In addition, if the responsibilities of the other party have not been determined by law or contract, the chances of winning a case are drastically reduced. That is why, with all the positive attitude towards the new country, it is important to very clearly articulate and prescribe the terms of any cooperation and not hesitate to define your interests in detail.
Posting unnecessary information about yourself
This point follows directly from the previous one. One of the most common mistakes Russian-speaking immigrants make is mistaking the formal politeness and natural friendliness of Americans for true friendship. However, the habit of revealing the soul to the first comer, from a traveling companion to neighbors and even civil servants, can play a cruel joke in the United States. This is especially true for immigration issues. In a variety of immigration cases, your intention is essential, such as love when you get married, sincere fears for your safety when you receive political asylum, or, conversely, your intention to return home when you receive nonimmigrant visas. Thus, a careless admission not only in facts, but even in feelings to the “wrong” person can entail the most serious consequences, up to refusal to issue documents and deportation from the country.
To avoid this, it is best to behave kindly with officials, but with restraint, and answer the questions posed to the point, without adding unnecessary details and emotions, and even more so, without getting into lengthy explanations that you are not asked about. In addition, we must not forget that your American friends can also report you if they think that you have violated the law or are trying to cheat the immigration office.
Reporting false information about yourself
The habit of avoiding unnecessary verbosity does not mean at all that you have to lie. Moreover, lying in the US is strongly discouraged. Providing false information about yourself in immigration matters can permanently block your entry into the country, and in business, it can indelibly ruin your reputation. The ability to “elegantly mislead” without using outright lies, which is sometimes found in the West, is a difficult art that even local residents do not always succeed in, and even less forgiven immigrants. Honesty and law-abidingness can really make your life in a new country very much easier.
An offer or request for something illegal
We have already noted above that even requests for completely legal things, bypassing the established order, can cause a suspicious reaction from the Americans. And even more so, you should not ask even close friends to do something bypassing the law. It may seem to you that you asked for a mere trifle, something that is completely normal in relations between friends: to confirm at your request some non-existent fact, pay in cash without notifying the tax office, hide some shortcoming of your product, and so on. ...
However, if an American decides that participation in your adventure may turn into problems with the law for him, most likely, this danger will exceed even the closest friendship for him. Moreover, the very fact of failure to report a crime for an American will mean that he himself may be accused of a criminal conspiracy, and therefore you should not tempt your new friends with such a difficult moral choice.
Consent to any illegal actions
Likewise, you should not agree if you are asked to break the law, even "on trifles." In the traditions of the American law enforcement system, provocations are quite common, and it is quite possible that the person who is trying to drag you into a crime is a police officer or an undercover agent recruited by the police. Often, people who themselves are caught in a crime, thus make a deal with the investigation and want to achieve mitigation of punishment, trying to substitute someone else in their place.
Failure to pay taxes
The perniciousness of this habit stems from American history itself. Even the most famous gangster, the "King of Chicago" Al Capone eventually arrested for tax evasion. Punishments for tax crimes in the United States always follow inevitably, and financial dishonesty often causes the fall of even the most powerful people. The less powerful, however, manage to hide their machinations for some time due to the insignificance of the hidden amounts. However, sooner or later, the truth tends to come out.
Summing up all of the above, we can say that in the United States, as in any other country, it is important not to lie or break the law, but, in addition, it is useful to exercise restraint, not blindly trust others and try to formalize business relationships as much as possible in order to avoid unnecessary problems. ... Following these simple rules can greatly facilitate adaptation in a new country, and in general, make life safer.
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