I am here to talk to you about what you need to do after you arrive to the US to settle in. The housing, Social security, Taxes, driving licence, authorization for your wife to work, opening a bank account and your first cell phone.
When i started a new position in the US, the company that hired me arranged for temporary accommodation for 6 months so i did not had to worry about housing for some time.
The first thing you need to take care is the social security number SSN. The SSN is widely needed so do it as soon as possible. Go to the SSN office and take with you your Visa, I-94 and proof of address. It took 3 weeks for my SSN card to arrive by mail. During those 3 weeks i went to 2 or 3 banks and only one allowed me to open an account without SSN. I was able to open an account on Bank of America quite easily. Now i have an account where my salary can be deposited and my card took more or less 2 weeks to arrive.
Next thing i needed was a cellphone so i could stop using my foreigner one. Lucky me my UK phone could be used without roaming or any fee on the US. I had no luck getting a cellphone with a contract without a SSN so i had to wait the 3 weeks to be able to get one. You can easily get one if you pay it in full.
I had to start thinking on getting an US driving license. I could use mine from Europe for 6 months max. Go to the closest DMV office. Take proof of your address, Visa and your I-94. You will have to do a computer test where you have 30 questions and you can fail maximum of 5. They will let you repeat the test a second time if you fail the first time. It is strange when you see 14 year old kids doing the test also because yes a 14 year old can get a special license to drive to School.
After you passed the computer test you just go around the block to do the driving test that is quite easy. The tests are much more demanding in Europe. The drivers licence will be valid till the date of your I-94.
If you wife has a spouse Visa, she can get authorization to work in the US filling the I-766 (EAD) document and then go to the SSN office.This is quite a simple process and does not take long.
You probably need to buy a car. If you have funds for it buy a car you can pay in full. If you need credit your interests will be high since you don’t have a credit score yet. In the US you have a credit score that allows companies to know how good you are with your finances and if you are safe to give a loan for example. You can see details about credit score here on this Link.
After the 6 months have passed i started to look for a house to rent and it is quite simple process when you have a drivers license , SSN and bank account. In the US the drivers license is widely used as an identity card.
So this are the basics to settle in.If you need to know more about something in particular let me know.
See you on the next post about renewing the Visa.