If you are a citizen of a foreign country who plans on moving to the United States with the intention of becoming a permanent resident, there is a lot to do before calling a moving company or packing any moving boxes.
First, you will need to obtain an immigrant visa. In order to do so, you have to comply with certain criteria:
– Sponsorship by a relative with US citizenship or lawful permanent residency
– Be a spouse of or engaged to an American citizen
– Be a spouse of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
– Be sponsored by a US-based employer
If you are a citizen from a country that doesn’t have a high rate of immigration to the United States and you comply with specific strict requirements, you may enter without the need of a sponsor. You may also look into the Diversity Visa Program – a lottery in which 50,000 eligible entries are randomly drawn to win a Diversity Visa (DV).
Next, you need to file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and await their approval (not required for Diversity Visas). After that, you will need to obtain a visa from the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC).
When relevant, the NVC will send the applicant, or other applicable petitioner, an Affidavit of Support (sponsors’ declaration that the potential immigrant has sufficient finances to be self-supportive) and the Immigrant Visa Processing fee bill. The bills may be paid online, by cashier’s check or money order.
The NVC will contact the applicant or petitioner and request that they submit the required completed documentation, including photographs, etc. After the documentation is reviewed and processed, the NVC will schedule an interview, which will include a physical examination.
After being granted a visa, a “Duration of Stay” form will be sent to the immigrant, stating the expiration date of the new visa. Within this period of time an extended stay or application of permanent residency must be filed.
If you are already in the US, not yet a legal resident, and still waiting for your work visa to be granted, you can apply for a work permit through Form I-765.
The next step after achieving legal residence (green card) status is to enter the naturalization process. Among other things, this will require you to learn English, familiarize yourself with US history and government, and show good moral character. You might also be required to carry insurance in the future.
When you are ready to start the moving process, contact an international shipping company to obtain moving quotes for your household goods and other belongings.
If you do most of the packing yourself, you are advised to buy professional moving supplies, to ensure your belongings are properly protected. Be aware that you may need to find storage for your goods in the US until you can complete moving yourself.
Record a detailed inventory of your entire shipment. The total volume will determine the number and size of containers needed for transportation overseas.