Moving To The USA After E-2 Visa Approval: Things To Do

We guide you on the essential things to know or do upon moving to the USA. It discusses important topics, such as the immigration process, buying or renting a house, insurance, applying to school, applying for social security numbers, acquiring work authorization, driving licenses, purchasing vehicles, and tax I.D.

What should I know when arriving in the USA for the first time under an E-2 visa?

The Immigration Process At The Airport

Moving to the USA after getting E-2 Visa is exciting yet daunting. When you present yourself at a U.S. port of entry (i.e., airport, land border crossings, and seaports), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will review the visas, passports, and supporting documents of every foreign national arriving in the U.S. to determine if they can enter the U.S.

CBP officers usually ask questions that confirm your identity and nationality. They will also ask questions that identify the true purpose of your trip to the U.S. You must present your passport and other supporting documents, which will then be reviewed to determine if you can enter the U.S. If an officer is not satisfied with your answers, they may ask for supporting documentation or ask that you go through a secondary inspection with another officer before allowing you to enter the U.S.; this second inspection is usually more rigorous.

Frequently Asked Questions by the CBP Officers

  • What is the purpose of your travel to America?

  • Where will you be staying in the U.S.?

  • How long is your duration of stay in the U.S.?

  • How often do you travel to America?

  • When was the last time you visited the U.S.?

  • What is the nature of your business or investment in the U.S.?

  • How much money have you invested in your business in the U.S.?

  • Have you hired U.S. citizens or permanent residents to work in your business?

  • How do you plan to develop this enterprise?

  • What will be your role in this enterprise as it grows?

  • Do you have a return ticket to your home country?

  • Have you ever been denied a visa or entry into the U.S. before?

  • Do you have any criminal convictions or pending charges?

Your fingerprints and a digital photograph of you will also be taken. Once you have satisfied all questions and you are approved, the CBP officer will determine the length of time you will be able to stay in the U.S. as well as your admission status and stamp your passport with the date of admission, the class of admission, and the date your stay expires. You will also be asked to access your I-94 Arrival record online within a few days of entry. After this, you will be free to claim your baggage.

It is important to note that the immigration process can be complex depending on individual circumstances. For any concerns or questions about the process or your E-2 visa status or guidance of moving to the USA, it is best to consult an experienced immigration consultant.

A happy family posing besides boxes when moving to the USA

Should I buy or rent a house when moving to the USA?

US apartments in colorful vibe

Buying Vs. Renting A House 

Non-immigrants are allowed to rent and purchase a house in the U.S. No specific documents are needed to rent a house. Still, there are standard procedures to secure approval, such as demonstrating that you are financially capable of paying the rent and undergoing credit and criminal background checks. While there are fair housing laws that protect you from discrimination, you may still be required to prove that you are lawfully residing in the U.S. by providing a copy of your visa.

If you are looking into buying a house, the U.S. allows it. However, lenders typically require borrowers to have a social security number and an established credit score and have resided for at least two years in the U.S. to secure a mortgage. Thus, many foreign nationals opt to purchase a house in full. According to the National Association of Realtors, thirty-nine percent of homes bought by foreign nationals in 2020 were paid for in cash. With that said, whether a bank would loan money to a purchaser with a non-immigrant status is a question best put to a mortgage broker or mortgage finance banker, or other real estate professionals who will be equipped to give full advice depending on personal circumstances.

The process of purchasing a house is as follows:

  • Research the housing market – consider several factors when looking into an area, such as the area’s crime rate and nearby amenities.

  • Establish your budget – consider your debt-to-income ratio, down payment, monthly utility costs, maintenance, repairs, closing costs, and other expenses. A mortgage calculator will be useful for this.

  • Get pre-approved for your mortgage – preapproval is usually valid for ninety days and is best done when ready to start shopping for a home. It serves as proof that the lender is willing to give you a loan, which reassures real estate agents.

  • Qualify for a mortgage – a social security number or taxpayer identification number (ITIN) is essential to qualifying for mortgage assistance from lenders. Ready the following: proof of employment, proof of income (W-2s and 1099s) and federal income tax returns for the last two years, government I.D./resident alien card, bank statements, and investment account statements.

  • Find a real estate agent – seventy-four percent of buyers work with a real estate agent. Be prepared to do some research, visit their website, read some reviews, and find a qualified agent to work with. They will be able to help you find a home, schedule visits, make an offer, and help with your other needs.

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Should I buy insurance?

Guide To Buying Insurance In The U.S.

Insurance is a must in the U.S. and it is one of the most recommended thing to buy when moving to the USA, as medical expenses are typically expensive. E-2 holders can choose from marketplace insurance (Obamacare) or private insurance providers. Employers usually provide insurance to their employees, but as an E-2 business owner, you provide yourself insurance. To get the most out of your insurance, consider the following:

  • Determine your needs – consider the duration of your stay, your coverage needs, and the amount you can afford to pay.

  • Research insurance options – there are different insurance plans and providers in your area. Consider researching online or consulting with a licensed insurance broker.

  • Choose an insurance plan – once you have looked at various options, select a plan that fits your needs and budget from a reputable provider.

  • Apply for the insurance – fill out and submit the insurance application. You may need to provide your documentation, such as your E-2 visa, passport, and proof of address. The next step is to wait for its approval. Once approved, you will need to make a payment for your insurance coverage, i.e., premiums on a monthly or quarterly basis.

  • Begin coverage – once your payment is received, your coverage begins.

Marketplace Insurance (Obamacare) vs. Private Insurance

Marketplace insurance is a good option if you qualify for subsidies based on income level or comprehensive coverage. It is often more affordable than private insurance. For more information on marketplace insurance, click here. On the other hand, private insurance can be more flexible when it comes to choosing your exact provider or for more specialized coverage not available through Marketplace plans. It also offers more personalized customer service. For more information on private insurance, click here.

Some insurance terminologies to know

The premium is the monthly amount you pay for your plan, which private insurers often base on your health risk factors. Your deductible, on the other hand, is the amount you have to pay for most services or medications before your coverage plan begins to cover costs. It will be a set amount found in your plan information. I.e., if you have a $1,000 yearly deductible, you must pay the first $1,000 of your medical costs before your plan starts covering any further costs. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium is. Copayments (copays) are fees you pay for a doctor’s visit or prescription. Typically, a high-deductible plan does not require copays. Your coinsurance determines how much your plan covers your expenses after you meet your deductible. It is usually a percentage. I.e., a coinsurance of twenty-five percent means you need to pay twenty-five percent of your covered medical bills while your insurance covers the remaining seventy-five percent. 

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Applying To A School For Your Children

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How to choose a school?

An E-2 holder’s minor child (under 21) can apply for a dependent visa and attend school without a need to apply for a student visa. This is one of the best perks of moving to the USA under E-2 visa. The general rules are as follows:

  • A child with a dependent visa status can attend K-12 school and post-secondary school as a full-time student without a change in visa status.

  • A child must abide by the rules governing their visa status.

  • A child is not allowed to extend their stay for the purpose of finishing their schooling.

  • After turning 21, the child must apply for their own visa status.

  • A child in E-2 dependent status is allowed to change to an F1 or M2.

Consider the following when choosing a school: research the school district, cost of living, and surrounding community, eligibility for in-state tuition rates for public universities, specific requirements (i.e., immunization records), age and grade level, school calendar, education options (i.e., private, public, or charter), and language barriers.

How to get a social security number and work authorization?

Applying For SSN And Work Authorization

E-2 visa holders can apply for an SSN as long as they are authorized to work in the U.S. The SSN applicant must visit their local Social Security Administration (SSA) office and provide the following:

  • Valid passport with E-2 visa stamp

  • I-94 Arrival/Departure record

  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if the E-2 visa holder has been granted work authorization

  • Form SS-5 application for an S.S. card

It can take several weeks to receive your SSN after applying, so it is recommended that you apply early. Once it is issued, you can use your SSN to open a bank account, obtain credit, and file tax returns. If not authorized to work, you may obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file taxes instead. It can be obtained by submitting a Form W-7 and the tax return.

Acquiring Work Authorization For A Spouse

The spouse of an E-2 holder may apply for work authorization or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by filling out Form I-765 with a fee. EADs are required for the spouse to be able to work in the U.S. Here are the steps to obtain an EAD:

  • File the form I-765 – the E-2 spouse must file Form I-1765 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The spouse must complete and sign it, and the filing fee of \$410 plus the \$85 biometrics fee (total of \$495) must be paid.

  • Prepare supporting documentation – aside from the I-1765 form, the spouse must include supporting documentation, such as a copy of their spouse/the principal E-2 holder’s Form I-129, approval of the non-immigrant petition, and proof of their relationship to the E-2 principal visa holder (i.e., marriage certificate).

  • Wait for the approval – USCIS will review the application and may request additional documentation or schedule an interview. Once approved, the E-2 spouse will receive an EAD valid for one year. It must be renewed within 180 days of expiration.

It is important to note that the E-2 visa principal holder’s spouse must be in valid E-2 status at the time of the EAD application and cannot begin working until their EAD is approved. The entire process can take a while, so it is best to apply early.

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Acquiring A Driver’s License & Purchasing A Vehicle

A man handing a key of new car purchase

How to get a driver’s license?

As an E-2 visa holder, you can acquire a driver’s license in the state where you reside. The exact requirements and process vary depending on the state; thus, checking your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website is best. Despite the possible differences, the process for obtaining a driver’s license may commonly involve the following steps:

  • Proof of identity – this may include your passport, visa, and other identifying documents.

  • Proof of residency – you will need to provide proof that you are a resident of the state where you are applying for a driver’s license. This may include a utility bill, a lease agreement, a pay stub, or other documentation.

  • Social Security Number (SSN)

  • Driver’s license from your native country

  • Pass a written test – you will need to pass a written test that assesses your knowledge of driving laws and regulations.

  • Pass a driving test – you will need to pass a driving test that evaluates your ability to operate a vehicle safely on the road.

Purchasing A Vehicle In The U.S.

E-2 visa holders are allowed to purchase a vehicle in the U.S. However, the process to do so may vary according to the state where you live, and the requirements may differ for non-U.S. citizens. As a general rule, you must ensure that the vehicle you purchase is for personal or business use only and not for any other activity outside of the E-2 visa’s scope. You must also ensure that you have a U.S. driving license in the state where you reside and auto insurance, which is required for financing or auto loans if not paying in cash.

To purchase a vehicle, you will need the following:

  • Driver’s license – you will need a valid driver’s license to legally operate a vehicle in the U.S.

  • Valid visa – providing a copy of your E-2 visa helps finance companies verify your intention to stay in the U.S. for the duration of your lease and loan term.

  • Valid passport – you must present your valid passport as I.D. to the dealership.

  • Proof of address – a utility bill or a bank statement will suffice as proof of your current address.

  • Proof of insurance – before you can drive the vehicle off the lot, you must demonstrate that you have insurance. Be sure to contact an insurance agent to get a quote and purchase an appropriate policy.

  • Payment – you will need a valid payment method, such as cash, a check, a wire transfer, or financing. Note that you will need to secure additional documents (proof of income or employment, credit application form, and SSN) for financing.

Here are some useful tips for buying a vehicle in the U.S.:

  • Determine your budget, factoring in insurance, registration, and maintenance costs.

  • Find a reputable dealership.

  • Get pre-approved for financing to know how much you can afford to avoid overspending.

  • Test-drive the vehicle.

  • Negotiate the price.

How to get a tax I.D.?

Acquiring A Tax ID

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique identification number assigned to a business entity to be easily identified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is used to report taxes. EIN is also known as Federal Tax Identification Number, used to identify a corporation for reporting taxes, commonly referred to as a Tax Identification Number (TIN).

Here are the steps to acquiring a tax ID:

  • Prepare your documents – you will need your valid passport, valid E-2 visa, business formation documents, business address, SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the reason for applying (i.e., starting a new business or hiring employees), and estimated number of employees (an estimated number of employees you plan to hire within the next twelve months). Form SS-4 must also be completed.

  • Apply online – applying through the IRS website is the easiest and fastest way to obtain a tax I.D. You must provide your personal information, such as the documents above. You may also apply by fax or mail, but online through the IRS website is recommended as it is fast and available 24/7.

In conclusion, moving to the USA after E-2 visa approval can be an exciting and rewarding experience for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses in the United States. However, the process can be complex and overwhelming, especially for those unfamiliar with U.S. immigration law.

It’s important to work with an experienced immigration consultant who can guide you through the E-2 visa application process and help you navigate the various legal and logistical challenges of moving to a new country. With the right support and preparation, you can successfully obtain your E-2 visa and start building your business in the USA. Consult today to get a free consultation.

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