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10 days in the US - an update

10 days in the US - an update

Old Aug 20th 2016, 12:32 am
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Default 10 days in the US - an update

So I thought I'd write up a quick update about my first days in the US under an E-2 visa. Maybe it'll help someone who's heading out here soon.

First things first, when I landed I thought I would get an I-94 (arrival record) from immigration at the airport but apparently they don't do that anymore - instead you need to go online somewhere and print it off yourself. I asked the customs officer and he got rather annoyed with me for asking so don't bother I guess!

Second, you need an SSN to get anything done. You might not need one to open a checking account but my bank Wells Fargo insisted on it. Fortunately I had one from years ago and even though I lost it, I simply got up on my first morning, went to a social security administration office and the nice guy behind the counter found me in the system, printed me a letter on SSA headed paper and gave me my SSN. This is awesome because it took over a week to receive the official card and without this I couldn't have done so much. Everywhere I went they asked for an SSN...

Achievements(!)
Rented a place to live (friend of a friend)
Received SSN and letter from SSA
Opened a bank account (checking account) - SSA letter and SSN required to open this account. New letter advising of opened account with address obtained
Savings account
Business bank account
Rented office space
Obtained SSN card
Got a cell phone month to month contract with AT&T
Passed written driving test (SSN plus 2 letters with your address required to apply)
Obtained American Express credit card via global transfer program
Passed Practical driving test (awaiting ID in the mail)

Favourite past-time in LA:
Looking for shade.

So there you have it, knowing that you need to get your SSN first, and get at least 2 official letters with your address on it to open bank accounts and get your driving license helped me get to the point where everything is set up for me after just 10 days. I need to sort out Health and Dental still but that's a job for next week. Time to enjoy the weekend!

Michael
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Old Aug 20th 2016, 2:37 am
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

I should add, I needed the I-94 to apply for the driving license as well. The DMV are super strict and awkward. I was in there for 5 hours one day trying to get it all sorted. Total nightmare!
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Old Aug 20th 2016, 2:55 am
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...your-i-94-form
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Old Aug 20th 2016, 12:34 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

May I ask how you sorted out healthcare?
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Old Aug 20th 2016, 1:43 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by michaeldc View Post
.... You might not need one to open a checking account but my bank Wells Fargo insisted on it. ....
Wells Fargo has a good history (reported on BE) of understood what the law says on opening bank accounts - specifically that a SSN is not automatically required. You may need to ask to speak to a supervisor or manager though as an SSN is most commonly expected and obviously most junior level staff might not be aware of how to handle more unusual cases - such as a new immigrant without an SSN (yet).

If you really want get technical with them, tell them that the USA PATRIOT Act specifies that you need a "government-issued ID number", and while an SSN is the most common example of such a number, a passport number is equally acceptable under the USA PATRIOT Act.
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Old Aug 20th 2016, 10:59 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by michaeldc View Post
So I thought I'd write up a quick update about my first days in the US under an E-2 visa. Maybe it'll help someone who's heading out here soon.

First things first, when I landed I thought I would get an I-94 (arrival record) from immigration at the airport but apparently they don't do that anymore - instead you need to go online somewhere and print it off yourself. I asked the customs officer and he got rather annoyed with me for asking so don't bother I guess!

Second, you need an SSN to get anything done. You might not need one to open a checking account but my bank Wells Fargo insisted on it. Fortunately I had one from years ago and even though I lost it, I simply got up on my first morning, went to a social security administration office and the nice guy behind the counter found me in the system, printed me a letter on SSA headed paper and gave me my SSN. This is awesome because it took over a week to receive the official card and without this I couldn't have done so much. Everywhere I went they asked for an SSN...

Achievements(!)
Rented a place to live (friend of a friend)
Received SSN and letter from SSA
Opened a bank account (checking account) - SSA letter and SSN required to open this account. New letter advising of opened account with address obtained
Savings account
Business bank account
Rented office space
Obtained SSN card
Got a cell phone month to month contract with AT&T
Passed written driving test (SSN plus 2 letters with your address required to apply)
Obtained American Express credit card via global transfer program
Passed Practical driving test (awaiting ID in the mail)

Favourite past-time in LA:
Looking for shade.

So there you have it, knowing that you need to get your SSN first, and get at least 2 official letters with your address on it to open bank accounts and get your driving license helped me get to the point where everything is set up for me after just 10 days. I need to sort out Health and Dental still but that's a job for next week. Time to enjoy the weekend!

Michael
That's a lot of things done in just ten days! Well done you
We're moving to Thousand Oaks near LA in October ... This is useful info. Thanks !
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Old Aug 21st 2016, 6:27 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by michaeldc View Post
Favourite past-time in LA:
Looking for shade.

Love it!, typical Brit bitching about the weather. And you missed the real heat.

My UK friends can't believe I spend my time avoiding the sun, they fail to understand that yes for a 2 week vacation its a booze and burnathon, when you live here its a touch different.

Leaving work everyday when its 100+ can become tiresome very quickly lol

Welcome to the USA BTW
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 7:11 am
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

ha that was an entertaining read. Well done to you for achieving that much in just 10 days. BTW, did you get your licence because of insurance purposes? I heard you can use your UK licence for up to 6 months without any issues.
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 10:03 am
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by nudda View Post
..... I heard you can use your UK licence for up to 6 months without any issues.
Nope. It depends on the state, but CA law only allows 10 days. I don't I know of any state that allows more than 90 days, a number are only 30 or 60 days.
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 1:17 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

That's good going for 10 days! I did that lot excluding the driving test and thought I did well

5 hours at the Dept of Driver Services (previously DMV) is not unusual first visit... When your plastic card license arrives it may say "Limited Term" on it, with an expiration date that means you get to enjoy the DDS again! Tip... Go online, do the application work there first. Print out the necessary completed form and when you go to the DDS, go early. Here in Georgia I found it opens earlier than advertised too. Beat the crowd. Show completed paperwork to the queue monitoring official and act like you go there often... Head straight to the ticket producing number machine and get what you need. If you do all this, in my experience here, you walk in and take a seat for your number to be called. The staff are happy someone speaks English (I love your accent, sure take a seat) and they like that you know what to do.

For some scenarios (sorry I forget which) where you need proof of address and you don't yet have "official letters" like utility bills, you can use this: get an envelope, write your own name and the address on it, post in the US. When it arrives, use this to show your address.

Welcome to the US!
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 1:26 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Nope. It depends on the state, but CA law only allows 10 days. I don't I know of any state that allows more than 90 days, a number are only 30 or 60 days.
Yes indeed. 30 days in Georgia...can appear to be one year but note the bolded words:

Georgia recognizes unexpired driver’s licenses issued to and held by residents of other countries as long as the "Out Of Country" license is unexpired. Generally, you may drive in Georgia for up to one year on an unexpired foreign license. Please note that if the driver's license issued to you in your home country is not printed in English, then you will also need an unexpired International Driving Permit (IDP).
You do not need to apply for a Georgia license unless you become a resident of Georgia.

If a non-US citizen establishes residency in Georgia, he or she must obtain a Georgia driver’s license within thirty (30) days. A non-US citizen would be considered a resident of Georgia if he or she meets any of the following criteria:

If a person accepts employment or engages in trade in Georgia, and enrolls his or her children in private or public school within ten days after the commencement of employment; or
If a person has been present in the state for 30 or more days.
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 2:26 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

ah yes ... the difference is most likely residency. I've been driving in the US for more than 3 months on internaitonal licence as I was not a resident there.
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 2:31 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by nudda View Post
ah yes ... the difference is most likely residency. I've been driving in the US for more than 3 months on internaitonal licence as I was not a resident there.
I thought you arrived on a H-1B work visa?
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 2:35 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by nudda View Post
ah yes ... the difference is most likely residency. I've been driving in the US for more than 3 months on internaitonal licence as I was not a resident there.
Residency is the critical issue. If you are a resident (as defined by the state) then you must obtain a local license within the 30/60/90 day period, whatever it is for that state.
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 3:57 pm
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Default Re: 10 days in the US - an update

Originally Posted by nudda View Post
ah yes ... the difference is most likely residency. I've been driving in the US for more than 3 months on internaitonal licence as I was not a resident there.
Under who's definition of "resident"?!

Residency is defined differently for tax, driving licenses etc.

I was also driving on my UK license over the GA period defined, and so long as you don't actually have to produce your license that's not a problem for you but IF you have to produce your license... Well, it depends on how the police officer feels that day?! Sometimes maybe the accent helps wing-it... Other times I dunno.

Edit: To clarify, just in case anyone thinks I'm saying its a good idea to drive without following the required state regulations... I'm not.

Last edited by Hanco; Aug 22nd 2016 at 4:29 pm.
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