Moving to the United States can be a challenging process. In addition to crossing borders and facing potential language barriers, new immigrants must consult with an array of government offices to acquire visas and green cards—both of which may require lots of paperwork and incredible patience.
Immigrating to the United States can feel like an overwhelming task, but the following resources will help you navigate the process.
A Guide for New Immigrants
Our first resource and one of the most comprehensive aids for immigrants in the USA comes from the federal office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It’s called Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants.
This guide is available for download in 14 languages (see available languages here) and covers a broad range of topics, including:
- Your rights and responsibilities as a permanent resident
- Getting settled in the United States
- Taking care of your money
- Understanding American education and healthcare
- Keeping your home and family safe
- Learning about the United States
- Becoming a U.S. citizen
If you’re looking for a good place to start, this is it.
Getting a Visa or Green Card
The process of getting a green card to become a permanent resident of the United States can take up to ten years. While waiting for a green card to come through, most immigrants stay in the country on a temporary visa. The U.S. offers multiple types of visas, though most are issued for people who are in the United States because of work or family.
How to Get a Visa
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs offers step-by-step instructions on how to get a visa.
This web page is clearly labeled and easy to use. You’ll discover how to choose the right visa for your unique circumstances. In addition to learning how to apply for a visa, you’ll find information about the fees involved, visa processing times, and how to submit documents.
How the U.S. Immigration System Works
Learning about how the U.S. immigration system functions can be challenging, but an immigrant advocacy group called the American Immigration Council seeks to help. This resource will teach you how the USA enables specific groups to immigrate to America.
The American Immigration Council details how immigrating to the U.S. works for people who come for family and employment reasons, as well as for refugees and asylum-seekers. It also covers how visas and permanent residence are awarded on a per-country basis or for various humanitarian reasons.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
This federal government office provides some of the best resources for immigrants who are seeking information about how to get a green card, how to pass the citizenship test, and how current green card holders can get on the path to becoming naturalized U.S. citizens.
These articles contain useful links as well as information on what immigrants from different backgrounds can do to become permanent citizens.
Work Programs for Immigrants
If you are seeking a work placement, it’s often best to contact local organizations that help immigrants in the U.S., such as immigrant advocacy groups. However, there are some national organizations and federal government offices that can also help.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
This federal government office provides multiple resources for immigrants on several topics, including establishing a career in the U.S. The employment page on UCIS.gov discusses how an immigrant to the U.S.A. can start a business, find a job, or learn about American employment standards.
The Council on Foreign Relations
The Council on Foreign Relations is a nonprofit organization specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. This group has provided an extensive article full of information about getting a temporary job as a transplant in America.
In this article, you’ll find information about the largest foreign worker visa programs in the country. The article also discusses how to get a work visa and how American politics are currently changing these programs.
Upwardly Global is a professional employment program for American immigrants. Its main goal is to help skilled professionals find work after starting a new life in the U.S.
If your work background has been in less skilled professions, such as basic manual labor or food service, you may instead want to start with the other resources listed above.
Food and Healthcare Assistance for Immigrants
Moving to a new country can be a tough process. These government programs can help you find food and medical assistance as you transition to living in the United States.
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
This national group of legal specialists advocates for immigrants at the state and federal levels. The NILC explains how to get federal government aid and medical assistance as a non-U.S. citizen, including for those without children.
If you require help affording food or basic medical care for yourself or your family, the NILC encourages you to apply—even if you think you may not qualify.
The National Immigrant Forum
This national advocacy organization helps to shape policy and inform immigrants in the United States. It provides an especially helpful article titled “Fact Sheet: Immigrants and Public Benefits.” This article discusses who is or is not covered under state and federal assistance programs for individuals and families in need.
Whether you are documented or undocumented, the National Immigrant Forum aims to provide the information you’re seeking on topics including food assistance, healthcare assistance, and other public programs.
Consider Travel Health Insurance While Visiting the U.S.
Many visitors to the U.S. are shocked at how expensive U.S. healthcare can be without insurance coverage. According to Healthcare.gov, fixing a broken leg in the United States can cost up to $7,500. The average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is around $30,000.
If you plan on visiting the United States prior to becoming a resident, it’s important to know that your home country health insurance may not cover you during your trip. A travel health insurance plan like Atlas America can cover you for medical expenses resulting from unexpected injury or illness as you travel outside your home country and prepare to move to the U.S.
Discover the benefits of Atlas America insurance for visitors to the USA.
Resources for Immigrant Families
The U.S. federal government’s policies on immigration and support for immigrant families are changing more rapidly than ever. However, there are many resources available to help families deal with the different types of challenges that can arise for them as they adjust to life in the United States.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
The DHHS is a federal government office and a key resource for families starting anew in the U.S. They offer a list of helpful links to resources for people facing the kinds of problems and issues you may face as an immigrant in the U.S.
This page, titled “Helping Immigrant Families Overcome Challenges,” provides resources that deal with the cultural competency of U.S. workers, domestic violence, immigrant rights, language barriers, and many aspects of family life as an immigrant.
Since America’s 2016 presidential election, the Informed Immigrant group has been organizing legal advocates, outreach specialists, and service providers to aid American immigrant populations.
Informed Immigrant keeps a searchable database where individuals in need can find local support by entering their zip code. Here, people new to the U.S. can find legal aid, community action organizers, financial assistance entities, and mental health support groups specifically for immigrant families.
The Immigrant Advocates Network (IAN)
The Immigration Advocates Network is a team of professionals that works with advocacy organizations to help both undocumented and documented immigrants find aid of all kinds in their local communities.
The network has worked with groups such as Citizenshipworks, Immi, Stand with Immigrants, Oportunidad, Women Step Forward, and Immigo to accomplish goals such as building civic engagement, helping to establish economic security among immigrant families, connecting immigrants to trustworthy resources and legal aid, and simplifying the path to citizenship.
Explore Additional Resources from Our Blog
- How to Get a USA Green Card
- Types of Travel Documents for Entering and Departing the U.S.
- Atlas America Insurance
Also download our Guide to U.S. Cultures and Customs to learn about culture, social etiquette, communication, transportation, laws, and travel health insurance in the USA.