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-   -   Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed (https://britishexpats.com/forum/usa-57/hi-advice-h4-visa-ca-irvine-life-needed-695822/)

Serene1 Dec 4th 2010 10:50 pm

Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
Hi Everyone, Im new on here, but have been reading some great threads over the last few months.

I have had a dream to move to CA for the last 6 years, and now finally theres a chance we could go. My husband is being offered a H1B visa for a company in Irvine. I have visited California many times and have spent a few weeks in Irvine 3 years ago, so I have a good picture of it - as a tourist.
But - I dont want to dive into it blindly with the rose-tinted glasses firmly on!

I have read that there are great public schools which is big plus and its safe, although housing costs are high. There seems to be plenty of open spaces for kids - parks, beaches, lakes aswell as great shopping, AMAZING weather, nice little towns to visit aswell as all the outdoor recreational facilites available. etc etc.......i have been looking on OC/Irvine community websites.....So its seems like the perfect place to go!!!! especially when you are coming from the West Midlands!!

The downside is that he wont be earning as much as he is here and I wont be able to work on the visa that I would get - the H4 visa. Does anyone have any experience with this visa as I have been trawling the net and some articles have said that it is possible to change my own visa status once I am there either by finding my own visa sponsorship or by buying/starting up a bussiness myself?? I know how difficult the visa process is in USA and it seems very complicated to do this - I dont want to get there and realise that its not possible as this could leave us in a sticky situation financially.
Has anyone had any experience of changing from the H4 visa??????

You know, were doing ok here.....but the potential lifestyle change in CA, the sun and the thought of all the outdoor activites on offer that we could do with our kids is a great pull factor....They are aged 5 and 6 ......so still at an age where they (hopefully) can adapt well to the changes.
As much as i love it out there - I just dont want to get there and realise ive made a big mistake! It seems like such a major thing to pull the kids out of schools here and all the upheaval, all the change, we dont have any close family there either just a few distant relatives. But its something that I have wanted for so long but now we could go - the worry has set in!!!!!

Anybody thats moved from UK to Cali or more specifically Orange County?
Any advice regarding visas, schools, costs of living there, or any experiences at all would be most appreciated.....IM running out of time!!!!!:confused:
xxxx

Michael Dec 4th 2010 11:11 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
Welcome.

As far as the schools, all the elementary schools in Irvine are ranked 9 or 10 out of 10 so you should be ok in that category. Your children will attend a school that is based on your address.

http://schoolperformancemaps.com/ca/...58331%2C11%2C1

As far as working, your husband could ask his employer if they would immediately sponsor him (and the family) for a green card. If that works out (correct EB category, good lawyers, etc.), you could all possibly have a green card in your hands within a year allowing either of you to work any place.

Other than a green card, your most likely option would be to find a company that would sponsor you for a H1-B position and you have the qualifications for a H1-B visa. Although finding a company to sponsor you will be difficult because it is expensive and complex, you have an advantage over someone outside the US since you are available for interviews. Other than that, an E2 visa to start a company is your next most likely option but that requires a lot of money and hassel.

N1cky Dec 4th 2010 11:44 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 

Originally Posted by Serene1 (Post 9021303)
Hi Everyone, Im new on here, but have been reading some great threads over the last few months.

I have had a dream to move to CA for the last 6 years, and now finally theres a chance we could go. My husband is being offered a H1B visa for a company in Irvine. I have visited California many times and have spent a few weeks in Irvine 3 years ago, so I have a good picture of it - as a tourist.
But - I dont want to dive into it blindly with the rose-tinted glasses firmly on!

I have read that there are great public schools which is big plus and its safe, although housing costs are high. There seems to be plenty of open spaces for kids - parks, beaches, lakes aswell as great shopping, AMAZING weather, nice little towns to visit aswell as all the outdoor recreational facilites available. etc etc.......i have been looking on OC/Irvine community websites.....So its seems like the perfect place to go!!!! especially when you are coming from the West Midlands!!

The downside is that he wont be earning as much as he is here and I wont be able to work on the visa that I would get - the H4 visa. Does anyone have any experience with this visa as I have been trawling the net and some articles have said that it is possible to change my own visa status once I am there either by finding my own visa sponsorship or by buying/starting up a bussiness myself?? I know how difficult the visa process is in USA and it seems very complicated to do this - I dont want to get there and realise that its not possible as this could leave us in a sticky situation financially.
Has anyone had any experience of changing from the H4 visa??????

You know, were doing ok here.....but the potential lifestyle change in CA, the sun and the thought of all the outdoor activites on offer that we could do with our kids is a great pull factor....They are aged 5 and 6 ......so still at an age where they (hopefully) can adapt well to the changes.
As much as i love it out there - I just dont want to get there and realise ive made a big mistake! It seems like such a major thing to pull the kids out of schools here and all the upheaval, all the change, we dont have any close family there either just a few distant relatives. But its something that I have wanted for so long but now we could go - the worry has set in!!!!!

Anybody thats moved from UK to Cali or more specifically Orange County?
Any advice regarding visas, schools, costs of living there, or any experiences at all would be most appreciated.....IM running out of time!!!!!:confused:
xxxx

Although the schools in the area are rated high, keep in mind that at 5 and 6 your children would only just be starting school out here. We moved when our daughter was 5, I remember at the time we were looking at schools she was reading Charlotte's Web, all the public schools we spoke to were teaching the kids the alphabet which was no use to us.

Although we were in LA and the OC is much cooler so you may have a different experience. We were really looking forward to the outside life too, bike riding, hiking... but most of the time it was just too hot and we couldn't do nearly as much as we wanted to.

Living in California is expensive, just general living costs of rent, air con, groceries are high and thats before you start on eating out, which is ridiculously expensive, beach parking, theme parks....

Having said some of the negatives though, I had also really wanted to move here for a few years. Although I had serious moments of homesickness and long periods of wondering why we had done it, I don't regret it. I know if we hadn't taken up the opportunity to come we would have always sat in England saying 'What if?'

Good luck

lisa67 Dec 5th 2010 3:46 am

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
:)I moved over on an H4 visa when my kids were the same age as yours. Where I lived (which was a really small town) there were still plenty of opportunities for volunteer work (make sure it's volunteer work in the rue sense of the meaning, not something that someone else would be paid to do and you're offering to do it for free) try looking at www.volunteermatch.org

With children as young as yours I'm sure there'll be plenty pf opportunities for volunteering at their school too.

md95065 Dec 5th 2010 7:29 am

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
Moving from the West Midlands to California and taking a reduction in income at the same time is going to result in a very significant drop in your standard of living.

I don't know what field your husband is in but I find it surprising that a company that is sufficiently interested in him to want to hire him and get him an H1-B visa would be offering less money than he is currently making.

When looking at the costs of living in Calfornia don't forget to factor in state as well as federal income taxes, healthcare costs and the fact that your husband will likely start out with what will seem to both of you to be a pathetically small amount of annual vacation time (quite possibly as little as 2 weeks for a "new hire")

Serene1 Dec 5th 2010 2:23 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
Many thanks to everyone that has replied. I didn't realise that they begin school so late there. Similarly,to you Nicky my kids are definitely way ahead here in reading, maths etc. Will have to think abt this? If you don't mind me asking what did you do? Did they let you put your daughter ahead a year? Are they more flexible and based more on ability than Age groups? The other option is private but with me not being able to work - I am a pharmacist here, that looks unlikely.
My husband is in IT here and is a contractor, so that explains the drop in income that goes with a permanent job. He is used to having barely any holidays here in the uk and those days are unpaid, so two weeks paid plus all of the national holidays doesn't seem too bad to him.
The company have said they would put in for a green card after 1 year of him Working there. Does anyone know how long it would take from then? I get the impression it's roughly a year?
The main issue would be financial, as i couldnt work - rent seems high but I always thought taxes etc were not as bad as the UK? Have I got it wrong?

E2 visa option is something I think I will have to look at. Thanks for that! I will have to find a way to earn and keep busy, so that we can enjoy and make the most of living out there! Thanks again to all for taking the time to help!!
Xxxx

Boiler Dec 5th 2010 3:56 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
If you are looking at Pharmacy it seems from what I have read to be a painful transfer.

An E2 would require a sizable investment but would get your husband an EAD if needed.

Serene1 Dec 5th 2010 4:51 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
Thanks David, I won't be going into pharmacy in the USA, I would have redo practically all of my university exams and then sit state exams too to register in California. I am needing a change of career anyway, so am thinking of the e2 route and starting/buying a bussiness.
Sorry if I sound silly but what is an EAD?
Much appreciated!

Boiler Dec 5th 2010 5:37 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 

Originally Posted by Serene1 (Post 9022615)
Thanks David, I won't be going into pharmacy in the USA, I would have redo practically all of my university exams and then sit state exams too to register in California. I am needing a change of career anyway, so am thinking of the e2 route and starting/buying a bussiness.
Sorry if I sound silly but what is an EAD?
Much appreciated!

EAD is an employment Authorisation Document that allows you to work without being ties down to an individual employer. It would allow for example your husband to go back to contracting.

There are lots of minuses on an E2, but if one of you has an E2 and the other a H1b it sounds like good insurance.

I do not know what you have in mind but bear in mind the investment requirements for an E2 and job creation.

A pharmacy might work even if you were not the pharmacist.

lisa67 Dec 5th 2010 5:39 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
We put our kids in a year ahead, and they've done fine, but there are pros and cons for both and plenty of pther threads about it so have a quick search. :fingerscrossed:

meauxna Dec 5th 2010 6:01 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
Can you afford to live on one, H-1B salary, in Irvine?

Can you afford it for a finite time? (until green card). If you did, would you be employed at the very first opportunity? What if the company terminates the H-1B job, or does not go through with the GC petition?

It is a great place to relocate to, but I think you need to be realistic about finances.

Please post your visa questions in a separate thread in the Immigration forum and keep this thread for lifestyle questions (or I can move the whole thing if you'd rather discuss visa options first).

Sally Redux Dec 5th 2010 6:08 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
We moved from the West Midlands to LA on H1-B/H4 5 years ago and all I can say is despite being all for it at the time, I really, really struggled with the move, as did my son who was then 12. At 5 and 6 your kids will probably be OK but don't underestimate the difficulties for them.

It suits some people but can be a lot harder than you think it will be.

Personally I wouldn't do it for less money than you're on now.

Serene1 Dec 5th 2010 6:30 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 
Thanks for the advise every1. Giving me lots to think about!!!
Can I ask Sally what you found the hardest about the move? I have considered the obvious - new place , no family or close friends and honestly even though right now I think I'll be ok- theres no way of knowing what it will really be like? Is there other things you didn't realise before you went that made moving tougher than you had thought it would be?
I just hold onto the thought that there's nothing to stop us coming home if it didn't work out? I know it's an expensive mistake to make - but u gotta give things a go - life is supposed to be an adventure right?
Think I'm too optimistic for my own good??
Thanx people. Xxxx

N1cky Dec 5th 2010 6:50 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 

Originally Posted by Serene1 (Post 9022430)
Many thanks to everyone that has replied. I didn't realise that they begin school so late there. Similarly,to you Nicky my kids are definitely way ahead here in reading, maths etc. Will have to think abt this? If you don't mind me asking what did you do? Did they let you put your daughter ahead a year? Are they more flexible and based more on ability than Age groups? The other option is private but with me not being able to work - I am a pharmacist here, that looks unlikely.
My husband is in IT here and is a contractor, so that explains the drop in income that goes with a permanent job. He is used to having barely any holidays here in the uk and those days are unpaid, so two weeks paid plus all of the national holidays doesn't seem too bad to him.
The company have said they would put in for a green card after 1 year of him Working there. Does anyone know how long it would take from then? I get the impression it's roughly a year?
The main issue would be financial, as i couldnt work - rent seems high but I always thought taxes etc were not as bad as the UK? Have I got it wrong?

E2 visa option is something I think I will have to look at. Thanks for that! I will have to find a way to earn and keep busy, so that we can enjoy and make the most of living out there! Thanks again to all for taking the time to help!!
Xxxx

We went down the private route, which had its own problems. We made a costly mistake of putting her in a supposedly good school which turned out to be full of spoilt kids with very rich parents and teachers who didn't care about giving the kids an education. We only stayed 6 months before moving her again to a much smaller low profile school which was lovely and gave a great education.

Following yet another move for us to North California, our now 8 year old is back in public school, the schools scores are fantastic, however the work she is doing is nowhere near as challenging as the private school we left in LA.


Originally Posted by Serene1 (Post 9022732)
Thanks for the advise every1. Giving me lots to think about!!!
Can I ask Sally what you found the hardest about the move? I have considered the obvious - new place , no family or close friends and honestly even though right now I think I'll be ok- theres no way of knowing what it will really be like? Is there other things you didn't realise before you went that made moving tougher than you had thought it would be?
I just hold onto the thought that there's nothing to stop us coming home if it didn't work out? I know it's an expensive mistake to make - but u gotta give things a go - life is supposed to be an adventure right?
Think I'm too optimistic for my own good??
Thanx people. Xxxx

I didn't work for the first 6 months and we were on a budget with just one income, so we only bought 1 car. I ended up spending around 5 hours a day in the car doing school run and running hubby to and from work. I never met anyone as most people never get out of their cars to pick up the kids from school, and most people drive straight into their garage so you never see the neighbors. Whenever you speak to anyone from home and say you are down, they just think you are insane because they think you are on a permanent holiday and life must be great.

You're right you can always go back eo England if it doesn't work out but it is costly and I know the impact its had on my kid, she is now 8 and been to 4 different schools, also the impact on both her and her grandparents has torn me in two numerous times.

md95065 Dec 5th 2010 6:50 pm

Re: Hi, advice on H4 visa and CA/Irvine life needed
 

Originally Posted by Serene1 (Post 9022430)
... but I always thought taxes etc were not as bad as the UK? Have I got it wrong?

Not sure what UK tax rates are like right now, but the idea that taxes in the US (and particularly in states like California) are low is definitely a myth.

2010 Federal tax on taxable incomes between $82,400 and $171,850 is 28%.
2010 CA tax on that income range is 9.55%.

Of course is is more complicated than that - there are allowances for dependents and the CA tax that you pay is a deduction that reduces your Federal taxable income and the tax rates on income below $82,400 are lower, but you still pretty quickly end up at a marginal tax rate of around 35% on your earnings.

You also have Medicare tax at 1.45% on all of your income and Social Security tax of 6.2% on the first $106,800.


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