International migrants are moving to the USA in droves – one every 37 seconds. They are attracted by the abundance of possibilities and the incredible vastness of the country. The InterNations guide on moving to the USA provides you with info on visa categories, residence permits, and more.
For centuries, moving to the USA has been a dream shared by people from all over the world. Even now, after the country has lost some of its reputation as the land of freedom and unlimited opportunity, the US exudes a certain fascination on people moving to the USA.
Thousands of expatriates, entrepreneurs, investors, business people, adventurers, migrant workers, and refugees arrive every year to make their plan to move to the USA come true. This makes the US one of the most diverse nations in the world, with a significant share of its 313 million inhabitants speaking a language other than English at home.
Moving to USA: Where to Go
There is a lot to explore for expatriates moving to the USA. With a total area of approximately 9,820,000 square kilometers, the US encompasses several different climate zones. Its variety of landscapes ranges from deserts, prairies and plains to mountains, forests, and lakes, and, of course, the seaside. It’s not only the scenery that changes if you move to the USA going from north to south and east to west – so do the people, local customs, attitudes, and ways of speaking.
Apart from the obvious urban-rural gradient in terms of business opportunities, there are no “traditional” destinations for expats that move to the USA. Where you end up might depend on where your company sends you, on your line of business or simply on your own preferences. When moving to the USA, you’ll find expat and immigrant communities in almost every big city. Wherever you go, moving to the USA will certainly prove an exciting experience.
Move to USA: Climate and Weather
Large parts of the western half have either a semiarid steppe climate or a mid-latitude desert climate, interspersed with some alpine climatic zones. Expats moving to the USA are more likely to end up in more pleasant climates, though e.g. the marine West Coast or even California´s Mediterranean climate.
The northeast of the country is mainly humid-continental, with summer temperatures rising the further south you go. If you move to the USA’s south, you will encounter a humid subtropical climate in most states, descending into a tropical wet/dry season climate in Florida.
Most people moving to the USA will be aware of more or less common weather extremities such as tornados and hurricanes during the summer months and blizzards in winter. These can sometimes pose serious threats, as illustrated by natural catastrophes like the hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Make sure you are prepared for such eventualities when moving to the USA. Once you are there, check the weather forecast regularly and pay attention to weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
Moving to USA: Non-Immigrant Visa Categories
For visa purposes, US authorities distinguish between two main groups of people moving to the USA: immigrants and non-immigrants. Both groups are divided into several categories, the most important of which will be dealt with below.
All people who move to the USA for a specified, limited period of time without the intention to settle permanently fall into the category for non-immigrant visa. The various sub-categories apply to different reasons why expats might be moving to the USA.
Move to USA: Specialty Occupations (H 1B)
This visa is for people who want to move to the USA to work in a specialty occupation, are involved in Department of Defense cooperative research or development projects, or are fashion models of international renown.
As a general requirement, applicants need to have a Bachelor Degree or an international equivalent (usually four years of study at an institution of higher education) before moving to the USA. The number of visas available in this category is capped to ca. 65,000 p.a., and the maximum period of their stay is initially limited to three years.