Checklist for Immigrating to the USA from India

It is always an awesome feeling to start a new journey, especially when you are taking off for US. It is time to go out there and do some awesome things. A new country has lot of opportunities waiting to be explored by you! However – moving to the USA from India – be it for education or job, is a big step and for some – just the thought of moving to a new country with a different culture could be very overwhelming and hectic. We have come up with a complete checklist which hopefully will guide you and help ease some tension and enjoy the journey to your new destination.

Documents

  1. Passport – make sure there is no damage and has enough validity for your travel.

You can check the below links for any passport related FAQ.

Indian citizen

https://passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/online/faqMainPage

U.S citizen

https://in.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/frequently-asked-questions/#panel3

  • Visa – ensure you have valid visa for travel.

Applying for new visa and other visa related FAQ

http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-gen-faq.asp

  • Travel Insurance.
  • Health Insurance (if not covered by Employer). Medical expenses in USA are awfully expensive, hence please ensure to get a good health insurance on priority.

Few visitors have had success in terms of coverage with INF Elite plans. Please check https://sosglobalindians.org/and https://www.facebook.com/groups/852555798595476/for more details and member experiences.

  • Education/Degree certifications.
  • Car Driving License in English.

Things to do/carry

  1. Couple of prescription glasses/lenses.
  2. Daily medication (if any) for first 3-6 months, basic medication and first aid kit for travel.
  3. Internationally enabled SIM for any emergency during travel/transit.
  4. Indian SIM that works in USA (if required for OTP).
  5. Valid Forex card/International Credit card.
  6. Couple of basic cooking utensils, some ready to eat, small quantity of basic groceries to help you until you get settled. Please avoid carrying anything prohibited by customs. If you are moving into a locality with good Indian population – there is a chance of good Indian grocery stores nearby.
  7. Label all your travel bags (both outside and inside) and adding a unique identifier as we have come across many posts of members carrying wrong bags (same color, same model).

Things to wrap up in India

  1. If you own a property – take care of setting up online accounts for paying yearly property taxes, renting/caretaker.
  2. Bank accounts – Ensure online access to all your bank accounts, provision of getting OTP, KYC updates, linking Aadhar to Bank accounts, assigning nominations for all your bank accounts, savings (PPF, RD, FD etc.).
  3. Complete other formalities like getting Aadhar card, PAN card, Filing Income tax etc.
  4. Pay off all your pending bills (credit card, medical, phone, internet etc.).
  5. Cancel subscriptions if any like gym, cable etc.
  6. Sell off/donate household stuff no longer required.
  7. Full body checkup and pending Dental work (if any). Dental procedures in USA are expensive.
  8. Kids pending vaccination (if any).
  9. Learn car driving and get a driving license in English. Indian driving license can be used for a shorter duration in USA when you first move-in (please check US state specific laws for exact duration).
  10. Make sure to have physical copies/soft copies of all the other important documents that you are not carrying like house, car, bank, savings, kids’ education related.
  11. If feasible provide power of attorney to a family member who can take care of any necessary paperwork on your behalf.
  12. Most importantly packing your bags (this is going to take several permutation and combination), weighing them and labelling them with your name and contact details incase the bag gets misplaced. Also please reach out to your airlines to understand the baggage weight and limitations.

Things to research/find before the move

  1. Finalize the location you want to move. Make sure the area is safe. In case you are specific about moving to a location with Indian communities/good schools/easy access to shopping/commute services then try getting more information upfront through social media/co-workers/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/852555798595476/ .
  2. School/college for kids you plan to enroll.
  3. Finalize the community to rent the house. If you have school going kids – take the school district into consideration for the same as this is a completely different concept from Indian schools.
  4. For renting apartments in USA, it is a must to have a renter’s policy. Do some basic research on the same – service providers, good policy plans.
  5. Weather conditions when you land as at times some states can have severe weather and you need to dress up appropriately. This holds good especially for Central/Eastern parts of US if you are landing in Winter (Dec-Feb). Its highly recommended to look up weather in google or weather apps like https://www.accuweather.com/ and buy appropriate winter clothing. If you are landing in the US in summer, then it’s recommended to buy the winter clothing/accessories in US itself.
  6. Go through the DMV license handbook (https://driving-tests.org/dmv-study-guide/) to understand the driving rules, signals and all other concepts required to clear the written test.

Things to complete on priority after landing in USA

  1. Get an SSN. This is a must for employment, renting property, opening bank accounts and pretty much anything else. SSN is not required for visitors.

https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/

  • Open a bank account and get credit cards. Credit cards are one of the best ways to build your credit score. Credit scores are required for many things such as renting a property, getting car loans, college admissions and even job applications. Some of the leading banks here are Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup etc.
  • Get your car driving license. Go to your nearest DMV and get your license.
  • Buy a car. Since you are yet to build your credit score and cannot avail a car loan – look at buying a used car. For a used car – make sure to get the Carfax history report – it’s not 100% accurate but can give you a lot of information about accidents and other things that might be important when buying a car. If you have kids – ensure to have car seats for them. Car seats are a must from newborn till 10-12 years. Please look up your state specific requirements for the type of car seat.
  • You need to get a US phone number. You have a variety of service providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Mint mobile etc. Look at their plans, pay options, best deals etc.
  • Internet connection – Most of the times when you move into a rental property – they will provide you with Internet service providers details. You can take it forward from there, else check on the internet/friends. Make sure the connection is fast enough and requires least configuration on your part.
  • Familiarize with important contact details/locations. Several things are likely to come up when you have to get in touch with local people, emergency services or basic amenities like hospitals, grocery stores, etc. Make sure you are well versed with these details before they become urgent. Also familiarize yourself with your house address, street names and public transportations.
  • Buy necessities like lights, bed, pillows, blankets, drinking water, grocery, vaccum cleaner.

Tips

  1. Book hotel accommodation (with kitchen if you prefer having homemade food) until you finalize renting a property and don’t have a friend/family to move in temporarily.
  2. If you are familiar with USA driving rules and are comfortable with the same, you can rent cars from car rental companies as car is the preferred mode of transportation. Else you can avail taxi services.
  3. If your parents are travelling by themselves for the first time – please prepare them with the following
  4. documents to carry.
  5. forms to fill during travel/immigration. Have them fill sample forms at home to familiarize themselves.
  6. whole travel process – security check, gate numbers, immigration process.
  7. familiarize them with some basic concepts like enabling Wi-Fi, using wattsapp etc.
  8. enable international travelling on their phone and add required numbers with country code on fast dial.
  9. familiarize with concepts inside plane like seat beat signals, bathroom etiquettes, asking airhostess for help/additional beverage etc.
  10. wheelchair concept, utilizing EV transport within airport available for senior citizens, parents travelling with babies, priority boarding for senior citizens etc.
  11. If they have multiple transits – ensure their entire journey is on a single PNR to avoid the hassle of baggage transfers during transit. If possible, it is better to book a nonstop direct flight.
  12. immigration process, sample question and answers at port of entry.
  13. if your parents are not comfortable with communicating in English – please have a letter explaining the purpose of their visit with your contact details available for the immigration officer on request.
  14. Have all vital information listed down in a paper which can be referenced for filling out all the forms during travel like passport number, flight number etc. They can just refer this for filling the forms instead of having to pull out their original passport every time. If they are comfortable using their phones – then this information can be stored in their phone as well.
  15. ensure they have your US phone number, address handy (multiple copies).
  16. International credit card/US dollars (for emergency purposes).
  17. required daily medication (both handbag and check in).
  18. extra food in handbag for travel.
  19. warm clothing for travel.

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