A GUIDE FOR NEW IMMIGRANTS TO THE USA

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Entry to US, an access to a wonderful life

The United States of America welcomes thousands of new immigrants every year. And as soon as you become the permanent resident of the country, you’ll get an access to a wonderful life. However, adjusting to a new life is difficult and takes some time because you need to learn about a lot of things. Like all the other new immigrants, you might also be feeling nervous and perhaps a little frightened about this new adventure. However, you need not worry, this article contains some basic information and guidelines that will help you comfortably settle in this country and learn about its everyday life.

Finding a place to live
Initially, you can stay with your relatives or friends for a while until you are financially secure to have a place of your own. Here, you can either rent or buy an apartment or a house depending on your financial condition and desires. You will be able to find a place through advertisements in the newspaper or on the internet quite easily. www.craigslist.org is a great website to find some local listings to help you in the process.

If you want to rent a place, then you will have to sign a rental application form first. This application form is filled to make sure that you can pay the rent on time. You might be asked to show your Social Security Number (SSN), proof of having a job and your Permanent Resident Card. In addition, the owner of the place might request for your credit history, to see, if you have paid your bills in time, in the past. If you are not working then you can have a ‘co-signer’ agreement which basically states that your co-signer (friend or relative) will pay the rent for you. After renting the place, you will need to pay a security deposit and sign a legal document (lease) that states every detail of the lease related agreement.

If you want to buy a house then you can take help from a real estate agent. Getting a loan from a bank or a mortgaging company is easier if you have a good credit history.

Getting a social security number
Getting a social security number (SSN) is essential in the US for numerous reasons. Banks, schools and other agencies, all ask for your SNN while seeking for their services. It also helps the government keep track of your earnings. You may also be required to provide your SSN while renting or buying a place. SSN will be provided by the Social Security Office. However, SSN is granted, only if you are legally allowed to work in the USA.

Health and Insurance
It is best to buy health insurance as soon as you arrive in the United States. Almost all medical treatments in this country are expensive. Due to this, getting a health insurance is a must. So, how it works is: the medical center which you had visited will send the bill to your health insurance company and the insurance company will pay for some or all of your medical services. In most cases, you will only have to pay a portion of your medical bills. In case of emergencies, most hospitals are compelled by the federal law to treat their patients even if the person cannot pay.

Furthermore, some companies offer health insurance as a benefit to their employees. Health insurance fee is paid monthly and this fee is called a ‘premium’. Some companies pay full premium of their employees while some other companies only pay a portion. Usually, employers will deduct the employee’s part of the premium from their paycheck.

If you don’t have a health insurance then you can also contact your federal or state healthcare department for information. Most states have some sort of special health care provisions for low-income people, old people (65 or older) and children. It is wise to check such policies before you sign any health insurance.

Getting a Driver’s License
People in the US commute mostly using a car. So, it is necessary that you get a driver’s license as soon as possible. To find out how you can obtain a driver’s license, you need to check with the state office that issues driver’s licenses. You will be able to locate such office in the blue pages of the phone book. In case you already have a driver’s license from another country, you might not need to give a driving test, in some states. However, check with your state office regarding this. Driving lessons are available for people who do not know driving.

A driver’s license is sometimes used for identification purposes in the US. So, even if you don’t use a car, it’s good idea to get one nonetheless. If driving is a far-fetched thing for you, go for a state id. A state ID is your legal identification card, accepted throughout the USA, for identification purpose, and saves you from carrying your passport.

Paying Taxes
Similar to most of the other countries, the residents of the US also pay taxes for the services provided by the government. These types of taxes include income tax, sales tax, property tax, and others. Even if you are not making any money in the USA, you need to file your taxes. So, in order to find what these taxes are, and how to pay them, you can consult a Taxpayer Assistance Center that is closest to you. For income tax especially, you can get free help from an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

Emergency: Dial 911
The United States has an emergency service line that you can call for help during emergency situations. You can dial 911 from any telephone to report a fire, report a crime in progress, call an ambulance for immediate medical assistance or report suspicious activities such as gunshots, screams or others.

Do not call 911 for wrong reasons or for fun because you may keep someone else from getting the help that they need. To have information from the police, you can directly call their non-emergency number from the blue pages of your phone book. You need not worry even if you are not fluent with your spoken English because interpreters are available in most cases.

These are some basic guidelines that will help you settle in the United States in the beginning as a new immigrant. For any additional information, you can always contact a state, county, or city government office. Similarly, you can also take help from a local organization that assists new immigrants settle in the US. You will be able to find information about these organizations from your local phone book, the public library or the internet.

Anuj Agarwal
Anuj Agrawal completed his Master’s Degree in Computer Science from NJIT, USA, and is currently the CEO of a successful software company in Nepal (www.KulfiSoftware.com.np). He immigrated to the USA on a F1 visa in 2007. While pursuing his MS degree, he was a research assistant, and was lucky enough to secure himself a job in HMG America, as a Software Consultant, even during the recession of 2007-2010.  Having studied, and worked for reputed Software Company, as in immigrant in the USA, he loves to share his experiences. Apart from articles for immigrant’s issues, he also writes on financial matters, and ways on becoming a successful entrepreneur. His writings are not only limited to the USA, but are also popular among readers in Canada, London, and India. When not writing, he loves to explore new places and meet people. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Nepali, Hindi, and Bengali, and has visited the USA, Dubai, London, Nepal, and India, so far.

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