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What You Need to Know About Relocate to America

Work is taken very seriously in the US. Employees do not typically take more than two weeks’ vacation per year and working overtime is so common it is an essential part of the business culture. Americans often put their careers as their main priority and the same is expected from expats who come to work here as well. On the plus side, the rewards are usually worth it. The average salary in the US is high for a skilled worker and if you land a job that is in high demand, you can expect to receive enough money to live better than comfortably. However, government-provided social security is rather limited. Setting up a business is the only way of becoming self-employed in the US and while for locals it is generally easy, foreigners might struggle with obtaining the right visa that would allow them to work for themselves. Still wondering how to get a job in the US? Proceed to read this section for more information.

Working

Careers are very important in the US culture where people are always working and generally only take less than two weeks’ leave per year. Working overtime is very common as many Americans prioritize their careers. Fortunately, this is good for workaholics as the rewards are worth it. A skilled worker earns a decent salary while a professional can live comfortably on his salary. Nonetheless, the government provides very limited social security.

Locals find it pretty easy to set up a business while foreigners can face a challenge as there is no visa to support a self-employed position.

READ GUIDE ON WORKING IN THE US

Working in the US can be rewarding. Expats who prioritize their work should be able to adapt to this work culture easily but could be a drawback for those who don’t.

Other shortcomings are that job contracts usually favor the employers who can fire you without a notice. Also, social benefits are available only after you work in the US for at least ten years.

Nevertheless, the US is still a very attractive destination for many expats due to the high salaries, overwhelming opportunities and the various innovative companies that operate in the US.

In this segment, we cover:

  • Working in the US: Foreigner
  • Minimum Wage and Average Salary
  • Self-Employment
  • Business Culture
  • Social Security and Benefits
  • Maternity and Paternity Leave

WORKING IN THE US: FOREIGNER

The most secure way to get a job in the US is to be transferred there. This is because your employer is required to petition for you as well as sponsor your visa, therefore, transferees have those guaranteed.

Until you find that your job has no real dress code, you will have to be presentable at your best. Jobs in the US can be competitive therefore requires great enthusiasm, dedication, and a polished resume. The following could help with looking for a decent job.

Job Application
You can start by checking if your field is in demand and which states offer the best opportunities. You can always send your resume in an email stating your skills, interest in the company and a request for further contact information, in case there are no listed job opportunities.

There are several job postings online. Besides Facebook and LinkedIn, check job boards like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. For national job postings, the US Department of Labor also has a search engine. There are great job opportunities on trade journals, industry blogs, and association websites.

It is also advisable to keep yourself digitally visible by uploading your resume to job sites and staying active on official social media platforms.

Networking
Other ways to land a job in the US is through social networking like:
– Attending networking events, career fairs.
– Looking through your contacts, identifying who could help you and contacting them.
Before attending official events, remember to dress appropriately and have your business cards ready.

CV and Cover Letter
Unlike in many countries, CV and resume are both used in different situations. CV refers to a detailed list of achievements that is mostly used in universities. Resume is a list of educational achievements, previous job duties and hobbies used mostly while applying for a job.

Resumes in America include the following:
– Work experience in chronological order.
– Address, email, and phone number.
– Not your picture, marital status, or age.
– Information in a page (preferably) or a maximum of two pages.

You should add a cover letter to every application, unless you have specifically been asked not to.
– Personalize it – Start the letter by addressing the person by name.
– Introduction – Refer to the position you are applying to, how you found the job, and express your interest in the company.
– Achievements – Highlight and mention why you are suitable for the job.
– Courtesy – Thank the reader for their attention and consideration and inform them on a follow-up.
You can also indicate what type of visa you have or aim at getting or whether you would need sponsorship.

Additional instructions:
– Use points to make your resume simple and quick to read.
– Be consistent with bolding and spacing, with same font throughout.
– Use the same layout for your resume and cover letter.

Interview
Whether your interview is online or in person, it is good to be prepared:
– If your interview is conducted online, make sure you and your surroundings look presentable and your internet connection is good.
– If your interview is in person, bring your resume with you and, if specified by your potential employer, your references and portfolio too.
– Be punctual and dress accordingly.
– Be honest, answer directly, and maintain eye contact.
– Smile, keep a sense of humor but also stay professional.
– Keep your phone on silent mode.

Working in the US: Requirements
A vital part of visa processing is getting permit to work in the US as a foreigner. You may need the following:
– Labor Condition Application – workers on temporary work visas (H-1B(1) and E-3); assures that your wages are comparable to and do not affect the wages of the native employees.
– Labor Certification –workers with employment-based visas that can lead to getting a Green Card; assures that no qualified native worker could do the job at a comparable wage.

The following occupations that would require further licensing by the government (depending on the state):
– Protective service workers (fire fighters, law enforcement, etc.)
– Legal advisors (lawyers, judges, etc.)
– Personal care specialists (hairdressers, skincare specialists, etc.)
– Healthcare specialists (doctors, dentists, nurses, etc.)
– Other (architects, engineers, real estate brokers, accountants, bus drivers, etc.)
In few cases, you may need to attend classes of specified training or take licensure exams.

MINIMUM WAGE AND AVERAGE SALARY

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paid occupations (some depending on the field) are:

Profession

Average Hourly Wage (USD)

Average Annual Wage (USD)

Doctors

100

200,000

Chief Executives

90

180,000

Airline Pilots

N/A

165,000

Managers

60

130,000

Lawyers

70

150,000

The average salary in the US is considered to be one of the highest in the world. You can check with the US Department of Labor to find the highest and lowest salaries, in your state, available in the field you plan to work in. US Minimum Wage The set federal minimum wage is USD 7.25 per hour.

Areas with the Highest Minimum Hourly Wages (USD) per hour

District of Colombia

15

New York

12.5

Washington

12

Massachusetts

12

Arizona, Colorado, Maine

11

Salary: Good and comfortable A good and comfortable salary depends on occupation, experience, how many people depend on your salary and where you live. Companies in big cities pay higher salaries while the cost of living in those big cities is high too. You can check living wages to be aware of the salary you should be looking for. Living wage is the minimum amount of money you need to live in a particular state. So, your salary should always be higher than that.

Areas with the Highest Living Wages (USD)
per person per hour

District of Colombia

17

Hawaii

15

New York

15

Massachusetts

15

New Jersey

14

Areas with the Lowest Living Wages (USD)
per person per hour

Kentucky

11

Arkansas

10

South Dakota

9

Ohio

8

West Virginia

8

Metropolitan areas with the highest living wages are: – New York/Northern New Jersey/Long Island (NY-NJ-PA) – Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura (CA) – San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward (CA) – San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara (CA) – San Diego/Carlsbad (CA) Metropolitan areas with the lowest living wages are: – Chattanooga (TN-GA) – Jackson (MS) – Knoxville (TN) – McAllen/Edinburg/Mission (TX) – Memphis (TS-MS-AR) Average Annual Salary The average wage in the US is around USD 65,000 though it depends on occupation, experience, and where you live. According to the US Census Bureau, here are the approximate annual median incomes per household:

Areas with the Highest Annual Median Income per Household (USD)

District of Colombia

79,000

Alaska

78,500

Maryland

78,000

New Jersey

77,000

Massachusetts

76,000

Areas with the Lowest Annual Median Income per Household (USD)

Alabama

46,000

Louisiana

45,000

West Virginia

44,000

Arkansas

44,000

Mississippi

40,000

Jobs in Demand According to The US Department of Labor, the jobs in high demand in the US, with an approximation of how much they pay, are as follows.

Occupation Title

Hourly Wages (USD)

Annual Wages (USD)

Accountants and Auditors

33

70,000

Nurses

33

70,000

Sales Representatives

25

53,000

Teachers and Tutors

N/A

40,000

Construction Workers

16

35,000

Customer Service Representatives

15

33,000

Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers

13

27,000

Janitors and Cleaners

12

26,000

Cooks/Food Preparation Workers

10

25,000

Retail Salespersons

11

23,000

Waiters/waitresses

10

22,000

Cashiers

10

20,000

Popular occupations with high growth and their estimated salaries: – Marketing Manager (65 USD hourly/130,000 USD annually) – Software Developer (50 USD hourly/110,000 USD annually) – Web Developer (35 USD hourly/70,000 USD annually)

SELF-EMPLOYMENT

As mentioned in the visa section of our guide, there are no specific visas for the self-employed neither does the government run self-employment programs for expats. But, there are ways to go about it if you want to start a business in the US.

Self-employment: Process
In order to set up a business in the US, you will have to:
– Make a business plan and look for investors.
– Choose a business structure
– Select an appropriate name for your brand
– Register your business with the state.
– Get your federal and state tax IDs.
– Apply for licenses and permits (if applicable).
It is advisable to find out if your business complies with your visa requirements before you set up your business.

You can set up the following structures for business:
1. Sole Proprietorship
Small businesses and freelancers can set up this type of business as there is no specific documentation needed for the same. It is easy to establish and quite simple when filing its taxes. The drawbacks are that there is no real growth opportunity and the financial burden is solely on one person.
2. Partnership
Several owners and professional groups (such as attorneys) find this type of business set up feasible for them. Unlike sole partnership, in this type of business one needs a certificate and agreement of partnership (limited or limited availability), the financial burden is split equally and it is easy to set up. The drawbacks could be:
– Shared assets
– Dependence on other partners
– Split profits.
3. Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Bigger businesses, high risk companies, and people who wish to protect their personal assets choose to set up this type of company which would require an articles of organization and an LLC operating agreement (needs a resident agent or someone who will receive and take care of your company’s legal documentation). The advantages are:
– flexibility when splitting profits.
– limited liability
– lower taxes
– one or more owners
– easy to establish in comparison to corporation;
But, the business needs to be dissolved if some members leave it. Also, there are self-employment taxes which could be difficult to raise the funds for.

4. Corporation (B or C Corp or Non-Profit)
Only large business can form a corporation as it is difficult to set up and will be subject to corporate tax. You would also require putting in place the articles of incorporation and bylaws or resolutions of the company. More books and official accounts are required to be maintained. Some of the advantages are:
– attractive to workers
– limited liability
– one or more owners
– easy to raise money
– require a resident agent to help by-laws, books and audits

Self-Employment: Social Security Benefits
Self-employed taxes contribute to social security. The amount may depend on whether you work alone or as an enterprise. You will be eligible to receive social security benefits only after working for at least ten years.

Top Self-Employed Jobs
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top self-employed workers are:
– Childcare workers
– Hairdressers, hair stylists, and cosmetologists
– Real estate sales agents
– Farmers and other agricultural workers
– First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
– Carpenters
– Construction laborers

Self-employed fields you can think of are:
– Construction and extraction (carpenters, roofers, painters, plumbers, electricians, etc.)
– Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance (janitors, building cleaners, grounds maintenance workers, etc.)
– Personal care and service (fitness trainers, hair stylists, childcare workers, skincare specialists, recreational workers, etc.)

BUSINESS CULTURE

Prioritizing your work is a part and parcel of the US Business Culture. Despite this, people still love working in the USA.

Working Culture
Normally, without any negative intent, people in the US are very direct, they voice their opinions freely and are not afraid to criticize ideas that they disagree with. Humor is common at the workplace.
Working overtime is expected from every worker, failing which is seen as laziness or lack of dedication. Despite not wanting to, some people feel pressured to do overtime and take fewer vacations. Sick days are a part of paid leave in some companies.
Money drives most decisions. So, loyalty is quite rare as people are always attracted to better opportunities.

Dress Code
Generally, it is advisable to come well-dressed on the first day of work. Unless instructed otherwise, wear formal suits, dressy pants, blazers, blouses, knee-high skirts or dresses. The first impression lasts for a long time.
Having said that, companies recently have adopted the comfortable casual dress code but it is always better to check with HR on the policies and dress codes mentioned.

SOCIAL SECURITY AND BENEFITS

A social security number is meant to identify you all throughout the country and for other purposes like opening a bank account, getting a job, etc. It has your name, birthdate, and would probably give you a good benefit once you complete working for 10 years in the US. It is a number that was created for social security tracking purposes but over time has become necessary for taxes as well as personal identification in the country. The application and the card are free of charge.

Does everyone need a Social Security Number?
No. But having a social security number proves beneficial in many ways. It is recommended to apply for a SSN if you are working in the country. Without a Social Security Number , you can always get private health insurance, register for school, open a bank account, and get a driver’s license but other main things would require you to have an SSN.

Social Security Number: Application
Any one way could help you get a Social Security Number in the US:
– Applying in person in a Social Security office if you are already authorized to work in the US (most common).
– Applying with the same documents you filed for employment authorization (work permit, form I-765).

To apply for an SSN, you should submit the originals and certified copies of the following documents:
– Filled in application form SS-5.
– Immigration status
– Proof of identity (arrival/departure record, permanent resident card with a foreign passport, or your work permit).
– Birth certificate.

Foreigners should apply for a SSN around 10 days after their arrival into the country.
Your SSN will mention your:
– Name
– Social Security Number
– Work authorization status (indicates the difference between a permanent and a temporary resident)
.
Permanent residents do not have work authorization stated on their cards. SSN of temporary residents with work permits will have a note saying: ‘Valid for work only with DHS authorization’ (DHS – Department of Homeland Security). And temporary residents without work permits will have a note saying: Not valid for employment.

Social Security Number: Benefits
The benefits of having an SSN are compensations during retirement, disability, or death.

Retirement benefits
The retirement age in the US is 67, while the age does fluctuate according to the year you were born in. At 67 years, you will receive complete retirement benefits. If you take an early retirement, you can also start receiving your pension but with a lower percentage (70% of the full retirement pension). You have to work for ten years in the US before you are entitled to receive retirement benefits.
Disability Benefits
You are disabled by Social Security if you:
– Cannot perform the work you used to do.
– Cannot adjust to your work and have a disability that has lasted or will last for at least a year or result in death
To receive US disability benefits, you should complete 10 years of working in the US.
Survivor’s Benefits
In case of death, the US Social Security provides the living family with financial benefits. Like mentioned above, the bread winner needs to have worked for at least 10 years; but in case of death of a young person, the number may be lowered.

MATERNITY AND PATERNITY LEAVE

Luckily, there is no strict rule on maternity and paternity leave though checking with the HR would be the best idea. The US law (Family and Medical Leave Act) entitles parents-to-be (both mother and father) to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during which their job position will be secured.

To get benefits of parental leave in the US, you need to meet the following requirements:
– Be in a company with 50+ employees
– Have worked in a company for at least 12 months
– Have worked at least 1,250 hours during twelve months prior to the leave.
Generally, every state has its own rules. Partially paid maternity and paternity leave are on the rise in some states, so make sure to check what the laws are in state you live in and company you work at.

Maternity Leave: Benefits
You can check with your HR on the maternity leave rules in your company, like:
– Duration of maternity leave
– Fully or partially paid leave
– Health insurance coverage during and after pregnancy
– Flexible hours after maternity leave is over
– Rules for breastfeeding moms
It is totally up to you whether you want to start your leave weeks before childbirth or on the day of delivery.

Paternity Leave: Benefits
Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees (both parents) to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Nevertheless, you have to check with HR on the rules of paternity leave in the company like:
– Duration of paternity leave
– Fully or partially paid leave
– Insurance coverage during leave time
– Flexible office hours after your child is born

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