** For Australians citizens mostly **
I have already written a blog titled “How to make it in America”, this post is about the preparation you need before buying a one way ticket to the US.
I have been in New York for about 3 months, and apart from still not having any credit history (which is pretty much the key to unlock any type of service in America) everything is going pretty smoothly.
So here are some observations for Australians who want to relocate to the US.
They are based on my experience from contemplating the idea of moving to the US to living like a New Yorker.
1- Know what you want:
Knowing exactly what you want to do is a must before you start engaging with contacts in the States.
Until you clear what position you are looking for, what type of company you want to work for and why, you will get asked to figure it out before going any further.
2- Activate your contacts:
Once you have a plan, it is time to get in touch with your network: friends, ex colleagues, recruiters, inspiring people that can link you with opportunities and knowledge about the American market.
Don’t forget that they are likely to get people asking them for such tips all the time, so be creative in the way you approach them.
I once attended a presentation by Tim Ferriss (author of the four hour work week) one of his tips is to “trade” information.
This is how he managed to become an early investor in start-ups such as Linkedin and Evernote.
Before we decided to move, my husband went to Miami for a conference.
He made some great contacts there, and took one of the executives out for dinner.
A few months later, that same executive referred him for a role at Google. The next day, he got a call from Google’s recruiter.
3- Are you eligible to work in the US?
Sooner or later during this journey, you will get asked if are you eligible to work in the US.
That is when you need to pull secret card: The E-3 visa.
It is a unique status for Australian citizens part of a trade agreement between Australian and the US established in 2009.
All the details can be found here on the Australian US embassy site.
This status makes it very easy for companies to sponsor Australians on a 2-year working visa.
The main difficulty is that very few recruiters and HR departments know about it.
To be successful at lifting the “are you eligible to work in the US” barrier, you must be able to demonstrate how a company can sponsor you on an E3 in 3 weeks for less than $2,000 fees.
If you can’t do that, your other options are L1, H1, etc. visas. They are extremely complicated, costly and lengthy to obtain.
When I started talking to my employer about transferring to New York, the E3 was one of the first things I mentioned. I repeated it in every single communication, only to find out that when my position was approved, HR was about to start the immigration process for a H1 visa (intra company transfer), which was not guaranteed.
I had to patiently go over the E3 status again, prepare a detailed summary of the requirements for the employer and employee.
That information allowed HR to get sponsorship approval from the immigration consultant working on my case.
3 weeks later, I landed in New York with my work permit in hand.
4- Make the trip:
You can do all the prep you want, it is not until you get yourself there that things will accelerate.
Organize your trip by lining up as many meetings and interviews as you can.
When you are there, don’t be lazy. As hard as it is to fight the jet lag and go from meeting to meeting, just do it.
If someone throws you a contact: call them and meet with them.
Adapt your schedule to make the most of it!
4 months before moving, I spent one week in New York.
I tried to book a quick meeting with my now boss before I arrived.
On my first day there I tweeted this:
He noticed it and made time to catch up with me on my day before last.
When I left, I was in a position to follow up on a job offer.
5- Follow up:
After your trip, you will need to close on the opportunity that you want.
Follow up on the visa, contract, benefits, and relocation.
It is a very important phase. Once you leave, the excitement fades, people go back to their daily routine and your opportunity becomes another task.
Don’t let that task fall at the bottom of their to do list because you are far away.
This is a difficult exercise of applying pressure without become that annoying person.
Patience and positivity help a lot.
I listened to more reggae than usual during that time. What will be your way to stay on top if?
6- Get ready:
Once you have a job lined up or a moving date, you start a marathon of things to do. What you will need is just pure simple organization mastery!
When you review your financials, over estimate the savings that you will need.
As mentioned above, until you get credit history (6 months of having your Social Security Number) you will need cash!
When I think about life in the US, that quote attributed to Steve Jobs “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” comes to mind. I will also ad be vocal, move fast.