Moving to the USA?
USA: Visa Applications and Housing
The First Step: Applying for a Visa
For most visas categories, the initial steps are taken by the applicant’s employer. Depending on the visa category, your employer needs to obtain an approved Labor Certification from the US Department of Labor. Often, they also have to file a petition on your behalf with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Immigrant visas are processed by the National Visa Center. For nonimmigrant visas, employers will file a Form I-129 petition, which is necessary for the applicant to arrange a personal interview at their nearest US embassy or consulate. You will need to present a number of documents at the interview: a valid passport, a passport-style photograph, and a completed Form DS-160 (Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application).
Most visa categories contain dependent visas for family members, for which they must submit a separate application if they want to work in the United States. As opposed to other English-speaking countries, proficiency in English is not a formal requirement to obtain a US visa. In fact, neither English nor any other language has ever been made the official language of the United States of America.
The Endless Housing Possibilities in the US
You should have little trouble finding available housing in the USA. Types of accommodation include detached and town houses in smaller towns or suburban areas as well as apartments or condominiums in inner city areas.
Some apartment buildings are co-ops in the sense that the owners are shareholders in a company that owns the building and the grounds. In condominiums, on the other hand, housing units are individually owned and the remainder of the property is jointly owned with other unit owners. Nonetheless, many expats who are planning to stay in the US for several years opt to buy property rather than renting a place.
In general, buying property in the US is quite straightforward, even for foreign nationals. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended to enlist the services of a realtor.
Short-term rentals may be a bit more difficult to come by. In bigger cities, there might be apartments available for short-term rent, but very often the best option is to stay in a hotel which offers “residential suites”.
Finding Your New Home
The best source when looking for accommodation in the States is the internet. Sites like the Multiple Listing Service and the National Association of Realtors offer a nationwide property and real estate agent search tool plus other useful information.
A good real estate agent should be able to provide detailed information, not only on the property itself but also on the neighborhood, local schools, and the residential community. Other, more traditional listing services include the local newspapers or employee magazines, which some big companies publish for their staff.
Also check out our detailed InterNations Guide to the US if you want to know more about housing and accommodation in the USA. There you'll find more information on such topics as:
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