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California bound - April 2017

California bound - April 2017

Old Jan 8th 2017, 10:09 pm
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Default California bound - April 2017

Hello everyone!
Thanks for all your help and posts - I have gathered so much useful information reading them. I have learned quite a lot of insightful information about aspects of our move such as bringing my precious cat, international movers, driving licences and so on, but I have a few additional questions. Some of the posts uses acronyms/abbreviations that are new to me (especially the tax-related ones!), so apologies if these questions have been answered elsewhere and I simply haven't understood them. I'm also new to the forum structure so apologies if the questions are posted in the incorrect area.


About us
First - about us: we self-petitioned under EB1A for a Green Card and were approved at the London Embassy in November 2016. The process was fairly painless and didn't take long (6 months); if anyone needs any knowledge about that - PM me. I'm an academic, and my husband works in TV. Unlike most posters, we are not attached to jobs in the US - we are coming out free and easy (probably not the latter - eek!). I worked on my PhD in the US and have had fellowships here, (J1 visa) so I am not entirely new to the country, but living and working here is a different kettle of fish from studying I guess.

Paperwork

We entered the US in December, for two weeks initially, to finish green card processing (had to be in before our medicals expired) check out some neighbourhoods and do some initial house hunting. We are currently in Mexico and heading back to the UK in a few days. We will return to the US for good in April 2017. We have the 1 year visa in our passports while we are waiting for the green cards to arrive (they indicated 6 months, so expected May 17 to a friends house in Cali). However, my husband's passport expires in Dec 2017. Should my husband apply for a new passport before we leave? Do we need to go back to the Embassy to obtain a new visa once we get the passport?

As we entered and left (or will leave) within two weeks, Dec 16 to Jan 17, should we file taxes for this period? My husband is self-employed and normally files his own; I am PAYE. We own two properties in the UK we'll be renting out too.


JOBS

We have enough saved that we can live job free for a while, while we get settled down. My husband is self-employed and works for a number of TV production companies in London, most of which have LA offices too. So he will likely get work through them. However, most demand union membership, yet you seem to have to get the work before you join the union (even the concept of a union seems so weird here) - does anyone have experience of this?

I'll be doing consultancy work for a company based in the UK, at least initially. I see from other posters' posts that I need to file taxes in the US not the UK. However, I'm not sure when that starts - April 2017, or April 2018? I've been invited to join the Lecturer pool at U. Southern California, but I've heard that adjuncts get poor treatment and limited benefits. Should I wait it out for a full-time position? (in the UK, I'm already a Principal Lecturer so this would be quite a step back for me. I don't mind this career-wise, I just worry about the working culture) - does anyone have any experience of the university system in the US they can advise on?

CARS
We looked into expatride for cars but they request a letter of employment which neither of us have yet. Will we need to budget for a cash purchase vehicle or is there a way around this? We have always leased cars in the past so buying one outright will definitely be a new thing!

MOBILE PHONES
Finally, should we bring our cells and switch to SIM only contracts (we are both out of contract in the UK) or sell them and start new contracts? Is this possible? We have no credit history, although I think my student account at Citibank from 10+ years ago may still be open and we both have AMEXs.

Thank you in advance!
PS Rent in west LA - WOW. I know you get more bang for your buck, but seriously, I was shocked. It seems the properties are designed for sharers rather than couples/families.
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Old Jan 8th 2017, 10:41 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

I can't answer much, but can speak a bit to the job part of your post. Note that lecturer in the US means something different to lecturer in the U.K. In the US, a lecturer is a teaching only position, with no time (or expectation) of research. I don't know your field, but I'm guessing if you sponsored yourselves for EB1A using your job then I'd say taking a lecturer position would be quite a step down. This is probably fine in the short term, but might count against you with future employers if you stay too long!
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Old Jan 8th 2017, 10:51 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by catlover3 View Post
We have the 1 year visa in our passports while we are waiting for the green cards to arrive ...
Just for clarity, you have an endorsed immigrant visa which is valid for 1 year. This is the same thing as the plastic green card that will arrive in the mail. They are both called an I-551.

However, my husband's passport expires in Dec 2017. Should my husband apply for a new passport before we leave?
Since you'll be arriving in the USA as US PRs, I don't think he needs a new passport, no.

Do we need to go back to the Embassy to obtain a new visa once we get the passport?
If he does get a new passport, then no, you don't need a new visa. He'll just carry both passports.

As we entered and left (or will leave) within two weeks, Dec 16 to Jan 17, should we file taxes for this period?
The US tax year is Jan 1 to Dec 31. So you'll only have from Dec 16 to Dec 31 as US PR status....so no, you don't need to file US taxes for this 2 week period.

I'll be doing consultancy work for a company based in the UK, at least initially. I see from other posters' posts that I need to file taxes in the US not the UK. However, I'm not sure when that starts - April 2017, or April 2018?
April 15, 2017 is the deadline for filing a US tax return for the calendar year of 2016. Since you were only here 2 weeks, you don't need to file a 2016 US tax return. Your first tax return will be filed by the deadline of April 15, 2018, for the calendar year of 2017.

PS Rent in west LA - WOW. I know you get more bang for your buck, but seriously, I was shocked. It seems the properties are designed for sharers rather than couples/families.
You don't always get more bang for your buck, either. My husband was working in West Hollywood and renting an apartment there. It was a very old, horrible, tiny, 1-bed 1-bath apartment and he paid $1,700 a month for it. By comparison, we have a nice 2-bed 2-bath condo in Phoenix, and the mortgage is $530 monthly.

Rene
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Old Jan 8th 2017, 10:59 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by Noorah101 View Post


Since you'll be arriving in the USA as US PRs, I don't think he needs a new passport, no.

I'd advise sorting it before leaving, personally. Less of a headache than doing it from the US.
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Old Jan 8th 2017, 11:05 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by brit4 View Post
I can't answer much, but can speak a bit to the job part of your post. Note that lecturer in the US means something different to lecturer in the U.K. In the US, a lecturer is a teaching only position, with no time (or expectation) of research. I don't know your field, but I'm guessing if you sponsored yourselves for EB1A using your job then I'd say taking a lecturer position would be quite a step down. This is probably fine in the short term, but might count against you with future employers if you stay too long!
Thank you! Yes I thought this was the case. I can prpbably manage with freelance consultancy but I wondered whether joining the lecturer pool would be a worthwhile start.
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Old Jan 8th 2017, 11:07 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Thank you Noorah101 - very informative!
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Old Jan 8th 2017, 11:09 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by Noorah101 View Post
You don't always get more bang for your buck, either. My husband was working in West Hollywood and renting an apartment there. It was a very old, horrible, tiny, 1-bed 1-bath apartment and he paid $1,700 a month for it. By comparison, we have a nice 2-bed 2-bath condo in Phoenix, and the mortgage is $530 monthly.

Rene
Sorry - I meant compared to London, and NYC where I lived before. You're right, the rents are crazy. Your Phoenix rent is so affordable!
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Old Jan 9th 2017, 5:46 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by catlover3 View Post

We looked into expatride for cars but they request a letter of employment which neither of us have yet. Will we need to budget for a cash purchase vehicle or is there a way around this? We have always leased cars in the past so buying one outright will definitely be a new thing!
Interesting question. When I was in a similar position, I had an employer which allowed me to qualify for the car manufacturers expat scheme. Audi and VW run this scheme, so you could look into that potentially.

Ultimately, the dealership can always sort you out, it's just a question as to how badly you'll get hit with the interest rate in purchasing a vehicle.



Finally, should we bring our cells
What mobile phones do you have (model numbers)?

and switch to SIM only contracts (we are both out of contract in the UK) or sell them and start new contracts?
There's no equivalent to SIM only contracts here. The prepaid market is now very competitive (ATT GoPhone offer 8GB for $60 or 4GB for $45. VZW offers 5GB for $5 or 10GB for $70. I really think ATT and VZWs postpaid ('contract') plans are very uncompetitive compared to prepaid.

T-Mobile is also pretty good, as long as your phone has Band 12 (and 2 & 4). Their contact plans have just become one (T-Mobile ONE) which personally I hate, but for $70 you get unlimited everything but with video streams capped to 1.5 megabit, which sucks donkey dick, but obviously it works for others.

So if you fancy T-Mobile, and you don't like the T-Mobile ONE postpaid plan, you could try out one of the Simple Choice (of which T-Mobile's plans have become anything but recently, but I digress) which is a very good deal as they exclude Music (and video if you turn on their throttle) from your data allowance. They also have VoLTE / VoWiFi available to prepaid, as does VZW, which is very advantageous.
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Old Jan 9th 2017, 7:38 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by hungryhorace View Post
What mobile phones do you have (model numbers)?
Thanks for this. We both have iPhone 6 and are quite heavy data users. Interesting there are no SIM only contracts!
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Old Jan 9th 2017, 7:48 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by catlover3 View Post
Thanks for this. We both have iPhone 6 and are quite heavy data users. Interesting there are no SIM only contracts!
The iPhone 6 is missing Band 12, which means your experience on T-Mobile won't be optimum. Can you confirm the model? Is it A1586? If so, that will work just fine on ATT and VZW.

Personally, I'd keep the phones until the 7S (or 8, whatever it comes out as this year) is out then buy that, if you wanted to stay within the iOS ecosystem. Phones here are far cheaper than in the UK (even more so since Sterling tanked).

In the meantime, I'd go prepaid with ATT or VZW. Both have CA well covered.
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Old Jan 9th 2017, 10:38 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by hungryhorace View Post
There's no equivalent to SIM only contracts here. The prepaid market is now very competitive (ATT GoPhone offer 8GB for $60 or 4GB for $45. VZW offers 5GB for $5 or 10GB for $70. I really think ATT and VZWs postpaid ('contract') plans are very uncompetitive compared to prepaid.
You can get 7GB/month for $50 or 12GB for $70 on Verizon if you get a SIM from Walmart which is even better

Last edited by Olly_; Jan 9th 2017 at 10:40 pm.
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Old Jan 9th 2017, 11:46 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Originally Posted by Olly_ View Post
You can get 7GB/month for $50 or 12GB for $70 on Verizon if you get a SIM from Walmart which is even better
You can? That must have changed since the announcement in Oct? VZW just matched it within a month. https://slickdeals.net/f/9206183-ver...gb-and-70-10gb

Do you have a link to the new plans? I see nothing from Howard Forums (those sensitive souls) about these new plans?
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Old Jan 9th 2017, 11:57 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

https://wm6.walmart.com/verizonWireless

Click on the + under Verizon Prepaid Plans and you'll see them.
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Old Jan 10th 2017, 12:21 am
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

Danke! That's a great deal. Nice to see VZW finally going for it on prepaid, especially as they offer Vo{LTE/WiFi} on prepaid.

Update: eurgh, you have to activate a phone from Walmart to get the plan. http://www.howardforums.com/showthre...art-Plan/page2

Last edited by hungryhorace; Jan 10th 2017 at 12:26 am.
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Old Jan 10th 2017, 4:09 pm
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Default Re: California bound - April 2017

as already mentioned by horace on the cars, go to VW, Audi or Mazda.

I got a lease with VW within 2 weeks of arriving in the US with zero credit history. They did a manual underwrite of the loan and verified my income with my employer etc.

Phone - i moved here with my UK iPhone 6, worked fine on AT&T 4G
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