Where should I move in the US?

Emigrating to the USA - living in the land of opportunity

Emigrating to the USA has never been a piece of cake. Europeans have been heading west for centuries; mostly to avoid the harsh living conditions in their homeland. America, with its rags-to-riches romance and seemingly unlimited possibilities, was not only a place of longing for Irish, Italians and Germans threatened by famine, but also something like life insurance.

Table of Contents
Testing is above studying. It doesn't always have to be the green card | Is there no mistake? Then the time is ripe for the green card | Significantly lighter (but not cheaper)… | Immigration is approved - what now? | Emigration to the USA - in practical terms

It is no longer so dramatic today, at least for those willing to emigrate from Europe, but it is not easy for the latest generation of migrants either. Now it is strict immigration regulations and a strict bureaucracy that can turn the dream of living in the USA into a laborious walk through the courts. For everyone who wants to emigrate to the USA, one thing applies above all: the key to success lies in the careful preparation of the project. And: the USA is picky. Anyone who has a criminal past or is heavily in debt will, to put it in a friendly way, have a harder time immigrating than anyone else.

Testing is above studying. It doesn't always have to be the green card

Immigrating to the United States is no walk in the park, but neither is it a forced march. Especially not if you take it easy and try life in the USA first. A longer legal stay than with a tourist visa (for Germans up to 90 days) is also possible without the legendary green card, which entitles you to permanent residence in the USA. The solution between these two poles could be an internship visa or an au pair visa. In fact, there are a multitude of visas that regulate the temporary stay of students, seasonal workers and executives. The US Consulate General in Frankfurt provides detailed information about these options under the “Visa” button.

The advantage of such a stay on a trial basis is obvious for those wishing to emigrate. They can measure their dreams against reality and after this phase they can make more reliable decisions about their future. Because no matter how wonderful and exciting a trip through the USA may have been before, everyday life at the dream destination is guaranteed to be a bit more sober. There are many possible reasons for this. Can the newcomer cope with the climate and dialect in their new environment? What are the job prospects and what about social integration? If you allow yourself a limited period of time for this "reality check", you will not immediately break all bridges to your ancestral home. Not bad, if the United States should not turn out to be the country where milk and honey flow!

Is there no mistake? Then the time is ripe for the green card

If the decision in favor of the USA has been finally and unequivocally made, then the so-called green card is the ticket to legally unlimited residence in the United States. To get the "United States Permanent Residents Card", as the Green Card is officially called, you need support - or a lot of luck. In fact, 55,000 green cards are raffled off every year and around half of them are regularly given to citizens of the European Union. Anyone wishing to take part in the lottery can find all the relevant information on the website of the US Consulate General in Frankfurt under “Diversity Visa”.

To anticipate it right away: Without a flawless police clearance certificate, the matter should be very difficult. If Fortuna has been on the side of an applicant, a lot of documents still have to be submitted. At least the lucky one is spared the application fee, which otherwise can easily add up to several hundred euros.

Significantly lighter (but not cheaper) ...

... on the other hand, all those who are expected in the USA have it, be it from a family member, be it from the future spouse or from an employer. If a close family member already lives in the USA, if you want to marry a US citizen or if an employment contract has already been signed with a company based in the USA, then nothing stands in the way of receiving the green card . However, the administrative effort should not be underestimated. And even in this almost ideal case, a clean slate in terms of crime is required as a prerequisite for a commitment.

In addition, there are a few "little things" to consider. In addition to the birth certificate and proof of school and professional career, a health certificate is required for the green card, which must be issued by a contract doctor. A well-filled account is also not insignificant. Nobody has to be really rich to start over in the USA. In the eyes of the US authorities, however, a reserve of a few monthly salaries, for example for the return flight home, is welcome. When the whole paperwork is finally won, the actual and sometimes all-important step follows: a personal interview at a US consulate general. Good luck!

Speaking of luck. There have been times when people were so excited to be able to apply for a job in the United States that they didn't carefully check where the company was located. That can lead to disappointment. The North American continent is big, very big in fact. Its climate zones range from desert-like Nevada to sun-drenched California to arctic Alaska, to name just a few examples. The regional peculiarities should therefore be taken into account before signing a contract.

Immigration is approved - what now?

Everything went well and after the final interview the green card actually arrived a few weeks or a few months later. Now there is no more time to lose. Since the green card is only valid for a limited period of time for the first move, you should move quickly to the USA. Once there, it is advisable not to leave the country for at least a year.

In principle, the green card entitles you to travel outside the United States, but in practice the authorities do not like it. Why? The holder of a green card is expected to move the center of his life to the USA. In their eyes, especially at the beginning, this means that the new citizen will actually be in the country. Experienced emigrants have been told that this situation will relax later. If you then want to visit your home country or go on holiday to other countries, you can do so without any problems. In addition to the green card, which is valid for a total of ten years, the “Returning Resident” visa is required, which can be applied for from the “United States Citizenship and Immigration Services”. There you have to take care of the renewal of the green card later - before it loses its validity.

Emigration to the USA - in practical terms

Beyond all exit and entry formalities, Europeans really can expect a new, different life in the USA. Which doesn't necessarily mean that everything is better there. Here, too, one thing in particular helps against unpleasant surprises: good preparation and planning, planning, planning. The more information you can get in advance, the better. For example, what is the housing market like in the region you are traveling to? What about medical care? These are almost existential questions that should not be neglected. It is also helpful to think in terms of the new currency early on. Weekly grocery shopping for $ 80, is it cheap or expensive? And what would you have had to spend in euros for that?

Clearly, certain experiences cannot and should not be made beforehand. But a little provision would be good. Then you don't clash with the police if you completely harmlessly uncork a bottle of beer in public on a summer evening. This goes without saying for Europeans, but in the USA it is banned almost everywhere. The units of measurement are also a challenge, as are the dimensions of bed linen. The cuddly pillow cover brought with you from Germany is guaranteed not to fit on any American "pillow".

Even with the greatest anticipation and unshakable optimism, emigrants should "waste" a few thoughts on the case that their new life does not work out sustainably. After all, the new company could go bankrupt and marriages break up here and there. What is your own status in the USA then? Will you want to stay or will you want to leave? It is worthwhile, at least for peace of mind, to think about it in advance and to sound out the legal consequences.