It is becoming increasingly common for software engineers to relocate to another city or even country to further their careers. If you are still considering moving, the United States is the place to be.
For centuries, the United States of America has stood out as the “Land of Opportunity.” Founded as a safe place to prosper and a home for those seeking freedom, it’s quickly become an influential power in the world.
This claim is true for its citizens, to whom the benefits of the country’s economic success are undeniable, and the millions of immigrants who leave their homelands searching for an opportunity to succeed.
Immigrating to the United States is a long and complex process, but when successful, it opens up many opportunities for people with diverse skill sets in the tech industry. Our comprehensive guide will help you learn everything you need to know about immigrating to the U.S.
Relocation to a new place can be exciting but daunting, lonely process, especially if you are unfamiliar with the new location or have no one to aid you with the process. This is why the United States Department of Homeland Security provides a general outline for those who wish to immigrate into the country.
Among the things you should consider are obtaining a visa/work permit, finding employment and housing, healthcare, living and general insurance, banks and taxes, and school and education. You also have to familiarize yourself with the United States’ custom laws.
Understanding these laws will make your moving process easier and give you an idea of whether you want to ship a household good or a personal effect. For instance, your T.V. and camera fall under different groups of items.
There are also vaccines that you need to get before entering the country. You can find more details on these requirements at the official website of the Department of Homeland Security.
Visa, Immigration, and Work Permits
Do you comply with the United States visa immigration laws?
Every U.S. visa applicant must complete their visa application in a timely and accurate manner by providing all the information required for processing. United States work permit and visa laws have changed over the years, and they vary from state to state. So, you should research these laws to determine if you are eligible for a U.S. visa and work permit.
In this section, we answer questions regarding the United States visa application process, visa requirements, types of visas, and cost and outline some of the benefits of obtaining a United States visa.
Foreign citizens who obtain United States visas can live and work in the United States. The visas will enable them to remain in the country permanently and become lawful permanent residents (LPRs). You will also be eligible to apply for software engineering jobs and other jobs that are only available to United States citizens.
In case you stay unemployed as a tech expert for some time, you can remain in the country permanently. While searching for your ideal job or get employed, you will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years.
The following are some of the immigration criteria by which you can obtain a visa:
- Family-Based Immigration
Under the family-based immigration policy, a U.S. citizen or LPR is free to bring you to the United States if you meet the following criteria:
- You are their spouse.
- You are their unmarried minor child (under 21-years-old).
- You are their parent (petitioner must be at least 21-years-old).
- Employment-Based Immigration
If you do not qualify for family-based immigration, you can always check your eligibility for employment-based immigration. In this case, your software engineering skills make you eligible for either a permanent or temporary visa.
The temporary employment-based visa permits employers to hire and petition foreign nationals for specific jobs for limited periods. This is suitable for those who have already found jobs in the country. However, depending on your qualifications, it might be possible for your employer to sponsor you for permanent employment.
On the other hand, permanent employment-based visas base eligibility on various criteria: extraordinary ability in arts, science, education, business, or athletics.
- Nonimmigrant Employment
The United States offers a prestigious nonimmigrant work visa, O-1, for professionals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, arts, or education. This means that you are eligible for this visa if you are in the top percentile in the technology field – a fact you can demonstrate through your achievements and contributions in your field.
Some benefits of the O-1 visa include:
- Limitless stay as long as you have valid O-1 employment
- Opportunity to work for multiple employers
- Green card opportunity
- Access at any time of the year as long as you are eligible and have followed the process
- Non-labor condition application.
We outline the visa application process in the next section. Suppose you do not qualify for this visa; the immigration criteria are still good choices.
Also, be ready to pay the following visa application fees:
- Category: Temporary workers/employment or trainees, intracompany transfers, and visitor business visa.
- Non-petition-based nonimmigrant visa (except E): $160.00.
- Petition-based visa categories: $190.00.
- Employment-based applications: $345.00.
After identifying your immigration status, the next step is to apply for a visa. Before travelling abroad, you need to decide which type of visa to apply for and then attend interviews at the consulate. Selecting the ideal visa type can be challenging as several visa options are available to professionals.
There are various visa options available for the U.S., and we hope this section will be a helpful guide in making your decision.
- E-3 Visa for Australian citizens
E-3 is the visa for you if you are an Australian citizen with a degree, an employment offer in the United States, and a job role that qualifies as a specialty occupation. The visa processing takes 3 to 4 weeks and is renewable indefinitely. Additionally, spouses of E-3 visa holders can also work in the United States without restrictions.
- Green Card
If you intend to relocate forever, this is the visa for you. The green card allows for permanent residency. As a green card holder, you will have the same benefits as any other United States citizen, except for not voting.
This visa applies to degree holders/temporary stays of 6 years. You can renew your H-1B visa annually and only start working on October 1st of the year of its approval.
The qualification for the H-1B1 visa is for a Singapore or Chile national. If you meet this requirement, luck you! Start your visa application process.
The J-1 visa is the best option for those who want to complete internship programs. To qualify, you must either be a student, a recent graduate, or have five or more years of work experience.
If your spouse holds a J-1 visa, your best option is to apply for the J-2 visa. This visa also allows you to apply for a work permit.
This visa is an option for those who work for U.S. companies abroad and wish to transfer to such companies after one year of work. The visa has a processing time of 30-90 days.
If your spouse has an L-1 visa, you can work in the States under an L-2 visa.
The visa is available for Canadian nationals and allows you to work in the States for a temporary period of 3 years. You can renew the TN-1 visa indefinitely every three years after the initial period.
The United States housing market offers plenty of accommodation options and minimal restrictions for foreigners. As an ex-pat, you have to evaluate options suited to your needs, whether buying property or renting. You can also find temporary housing as you explore the various possibilities.
The average rental price in the U.S. is dependent on the property’s location. In this section, we outline general rental prices. The listed prices spread across two categories: apartments found in the city center and those outside the center.
- Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre: $1,340.21
- Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre: $1,083.58
- Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre: $2,154.69
- Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre: $1,741.61
On the other hand, if you wish to buy an apartment, the price per square foot differs with the apartment’s location. Apartments outside of the city center go for $199.19 per square foot price while those within the city center sell at an average price of $333.16 per square foot. Remember this varies from state to state and actual location of the property.
The required documents for renting include your passport, proof of employment, financial information, social security number (optional), and contact information from previous landlords. This means that you have to set up a bank account in the United States.
Bank and Taxes
Opening a bank account in the U.S. is not hard. You will need an id that verifies your name, date of birth, and physical address. As a foreigner, you will also have to provide a photo identification that includes a numeric identity. Having a social security number (SSN) will make it much easier for you to set up new bank accounts.
However, you can always use your taxpayer identification number to open your account in the absence of an SSN. If you are considering moving but still undecided on when to relocate, opening a bank account with a U.S-based multinational bank with branches in your country of residence might be the best option to simplify applying for a U.S. account at one of its branches in the country.
The healthcare system might be the biggest shock you encounter when relocating to the States. Public healthcare exists in the country, but it is expensive and not universal. To avoid a billing headache, we advise you to consider private health insurance, which is vital to avoid high medical bills.
When your job offers health insurance, it usually pays for part or all of the cost. This way, you will know whether or not you will need to buy additional insurance.
For those planning to relocate with their families, the American education system is one of the best in the world. Even so, there are many schools, programs, and locations to choose from, which might overwhelm you.
American students attend primary and high school for a total of 12 years. You should, therefore, find out the U.S. equivalent of the last level of education you or your child completed in your home country. The same applies to higher education.
Ensure that you meet all the university/college and individual degree program admission requirements you apply to. These requirements may differ from one university to another.
Work and Cost of Living
The United States is a hub for technological innovations. This means that you have a wide range of companies to choose from when applying for a job as a tech expert.
Below, we analyzed the top 6 states for software engineers, complete with the average number of software engineering jobs in the state and the average annual salary.
Average salary: $107,479
Total software engineering jobs: 6,948
Software engineering jobs in Washington
Average salary: $105,321
Total software engineering jobs: 19,681
Software engineering jobs in California
Average salary: $81,684
Total software engineering jobs: 2,587
Software engineering jobs in Oregon
- New York
Average salary: $86,586
Total software engineering jobs: 5,058
Software engineering jobs in New York
- District of Columbia
Average salary: $86,349
Total software engineering jobs: 1,104
Software engineering jobs in the District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
Average salary: $78,938
Total software engineering jobs: 672
Software engineering jobs in New Hampshire
Moving to a new country is an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful. We hope that this guide answers some of your questions about moving to the United States and will enable you to make a decision you feel comfortable with.