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Order of priorities

Order of priorities

Old Jan 31st 2011, 10:49 am
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Default Order of priorities

So....this is me thinking out loud a little, so bear with me

I'm trying to determine a list of priorities for mine and my families upcoming move to LA (target date July 1st) and due to about a million things going on in my head at the moment, I can't seem to string together a coherant order in which to approach things, nor assign a rough timeline that I should be following.

So, esteemed forum members, please help me to figure this list out in some rough order (please consider that I have terrible OCD and therefore probably have stuff on here that's WAY down the line!!! )


1. House hunting - will be living in Calabasas, renting for the first 12 months at least.
2. Visa Application - L1 visa....initial enquiries are made, application will be going in on March 1st with premium processing as I need to go backwards and forwards to LA between now and July 1st for work.
3. Removal companies and quotes - when do I engage their services and how early should I consider shipping?
4. School enrolment for kids
5. Opening a bank account in the US (I can use my office address I think?)
6. Starting green card application process - the company have agreed to fully sponsor this
7. What major stuff is missing!
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Old Jan 31st 2011, 12:01 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Originally Posted by IanH88 View Post
So....this is me thinking out loud a little, so bear with me

I'm trying to determine a list of priorities for mine and my families upcoming move to LA (target date July 1st) and due to about a million things going on in my head at the moment, I can't seem to string together a coherant order in which to approach things, nor assign a rough timeline that I should be following.

So, esteemed forum members, please help me to figure this list out in some rough order (please consider that I have terrible OCD and therefore probably have stuff on here that's WAY down the line!!! )


1. House hunting - will be living in Calabasas, renting for the first 12 months at least.
2. Visa Application - L1 visa....initial enquiries are made, application will be going in on March 1st with premium processing as I need to go backwards and forwards to LA between now and July 1st for work.
3. Removal companies and quotes - when do I engage their services and how early should I consider shipping?
4. School enrolment for kids
5. Opening a bank account in the US (I can use my office address I think?)
6. Starting green card application process - the company have agreed to fully sponsor this
7. What major stuff is missing!
I would say that the visa application is your priority. Are you selling your home in the UK or renting it out?? What age are your kids as they will need to get their immunisations up to date, hep B etc. If you're going to be going backwards and forwards, you should take the time to look up rental properties etc in the area that you want to live in, bearing in mind that where you live will determine what school or schools the kids go to. We were very lucky and got in touch with a realtor who went and looked at rental properties on our behalf, took pictures etc, and we signed our lease agreement from the UK which was probably a bit risky, but it turned out okay for us.

Make a list of what you need to do once the application is approved. I wouldn't be worrying too much about your GC application just now, that can come further down the line. Your main concerns should be dealing with your property at home and working out exactly where you will be living. Work out what items you'll be taking with you and what you would sell (electronic stuff that won't work over here) and once you know what you're taking, then you can start getting shipment quotes. Ours took a full 13 weeks from packing to arriving at our home over here if that helps, sometimes it can be quicker, but you'll find plenty of threads on here about shipping items.

We made contact with the schools before we left the UK and they were very helpful and expected our arrival. Once you have the visa sorted and the housing sorted, the rest will fall in to place. Don't know if any of this helps but I'm sure everything will work out fine.
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Old Jan 31st 2011, 1:33 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Thanks...the visa application is at the top of my list....I've done everything that I can so far, and due to travel plans, I can't submit the application until early March.

Haven't decided how we are handling our UK home at the moment, but getting it valued anyway and seeing what rental income it could possibly generate to get an idea.

We already seen schools that we like and viewed a number of properties to give us an idea of what we can expect, so perhaps we are good shape at this stage and it's just my OCD kicking in

I guess the next step is going through our house and determining what's going and what's not.
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Old Jan 31st 2011, 2:57 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

I think you have already met with some of the schools, presumably you picked up the required paperwork, you just need to find out what day registration takes place on - I think it could be quite early this year as they seem to be moving the start of the fall term forward to mid-August.

Yes, opening a bank account is vital, we had a big mix-up with our currency transfer and were getting quite desperate when we first arrived.

You can start looking at shipping companies when you know more or less how much you're taking.
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Old Jan 31st 2011, 4:17 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Ian

Just thought of something else that we had a small problem with, remember if you have credit cards or are keeping a UK bank account to tell them you're leaving the country and get them to change everything in to your new address, it's always easier to do all that stuff when your in the UK, unlike us who forgot and had major problems with our bank account (I know, I am a total idiot, but then tell me something I don't already know)!!! And remember to cancel things like AA membership, TV license, just wee things that keep cropping in to my head, seems like a lifetime ago we went through all this but it's only a year ago - doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself
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Old Jan 31st 2011, 4:43 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Originally Posted by IanH88 View Post


1. House hunting - will be living in Calabasas, renting for the first 12 months at least.
2. Visa Application - L1 visa....initial enquiries are made, application will be going in on March 1st with premium processing as I need to go backwards and forwards to LA between now and July 1st for work.
3. Removal companies and quotes - when do I engage their services and how early should I consider shipping?
4. School enrolment for kids
5. Opening a bank account in the US (I can use my office address I think?)
6. Starting green card application process - the company have agreed to fully sponsor this
7. What major stuff is missing!
Hi Ian, thought I would give you my experience of the whole process and apologise (should start practising spelling it apologize!) if this is long winded and rambling!

My husband and I both will travel on L1 visas (work for the same employer) and have 3 kids 12, 10 and 2. Planning to fly 26th Feb! Relocation package will be a cash amount on top of flights and visas - not sure what your employer will be organising for you i.e. accommodation so ignore those bits on my post!

1. Start looking for houses in the area that are suitable for your needs, gives you a good idea on cost of living (Our office is right center of a city, so we had to decide on surrounding areas). A few houses we enquired about were let very quickly so the ones you look at now most likely will not be available when you go. We decided to stay in a vacation rental for 3 weeks after we arrive, so we have time to sort out SSN, Driving Licences and finding the right house in the right area (You need to combine school hunting with house hunting as the allocation works differently in the US). Rental for 4 bed house in NC costing $2,500 - less than half the cost of 2 rooms in a hotel.

We weighed up selling v's renting and decided to sell. If we came back to the UK we would not want to return to this specific area in Wiltshire and the landlord charges and costs to be considered are mind boggling! Also, with 3 children and working full time, didn't fancy dealing with any issues from out of the country. We actually priced half way between our minimum hope and the valuation and marked no offers - got a cash buyer in 2 days (no exaggeration!). House was for sale 0.5% higher price 2009 and we didn't even get an offer.

2. For us, we started giving US attorney content and evidence for our L1 petitions in September, October they were ready for filing with USCIS but needed to wait for our company financials to be signed off by auditors which took until December. Once everything was completed, filing with USCIS was done 28th December via premium processing. 15 day clock (which includes weekends and bank holidays!) started. My accepted decision came through on 3rd Jan. I then waited for the bundle to be fedexed back from lawyers and phoned to book my interview at the Embassy. I could have got an appointment to go the following day but waited until hubby's decision was made... His petition filed the same day, RFE requested 7th Jan. Attorney was on holiday so the response with evidence did not get received back by USCIS until 27th. After an RFE is responded to the 15 days for premium processing resets.... (I am a Global Manager and he has specialised knowledge in software development)

3. There are so many shipping companies - start by reading reviews and forums. We had Anglo Pacific visit the house to give us a more accurate quote once we had a short list of providers. (I can give you some rough ideas on costs if you send me a PM) As we do not know what our address will be after the initial 3 weeks, we will ship 2 weeks before we leave or have them store until we instruct them (still waiting for reply on options!)

4. We planned to get school sorted for our eldest two prior to leaving, but in reality we have not committed to a street address so do not know which school to to enquire to. Their vaccination records will be required though, you can sort that out now (their health visitor red books have it in or the GP surgery can print it off for no charge.) You will also be required to provide transcripts of their education. The school will provide this - what they provide and whether it is what the US school will require is yet unknown as I am waiting for my children's school to send us the details. The children will have L2 visas from your L1 as I am sure you know, so they can live, go to school. If they want to work before your L1 expires, they will need an EAD

5. Bank accounts we were going to wait until arrival. We bank with HSBC in UK and they can "introduce" you to HSBC US, we paid £50 for this introduction but worth it as it is a full account with privileges we have in UK and not a "solo" type account. So if you are not currently banking with an international bank, you can still open an account before hand (you do not need SSN) and is one less thing to think about. For us, this also meant we have been able to get advice and pre approval on mortgages. Regarding account holder address - ours is the UK address and we will change once we find a house. Credit cards or UK current account MAY charge for using in the states, if you notify them you are travelling they should waive and fees.

6. Our employer initially said we would be sponsored for GC after we moved to US. Now they have said they require us to live there for 12mths first before they commit to the costs. As they have funded 2 L1s I am not going to argue this at the moment as I see where they are coming from. It is recommended to start the process as soon as possible as it can take years to get a decision. I think it is best applying once L1s are approved though...

7. You need to figure out transport for once you land and if you have kids, also think about how you are getting to the airport! I am selling my car now as we will manage with 1 car for a month (wish I had sold it earlier!) Husband has company car and will hand it back a few days before we leave. It was an option to hire a car and drop it off at departures. On the other side - you need SSN to take your driving test and buy/lease a car. So rental costs need to be considered. We have paid deposit today on a minivan (my mother is travelling over with us to help with the kids while we get everything sorted so will be 6 of us!) Price was $1,300 for a month.

There are a lot of things you wont want to commit to until you have the decision on the visa. Research will make your head explode, so make sure you take days off where you try to forget about it all! Everything you have needs sorting into 3 lists... Ship, Skip, Sell (or give away) You can start making the lists now. I also recommend selling anything you plan to sell as soon as you can live with out it. We only have a few more weekends left and so not much time for the Sell pile - god bless ebay and I will pray for a sunny Sunday so I can get some pocket money at a car boot!

All the best on the start of this journey - there will be highs and lows - make friends with someone in your HR department so you can chase and chase on progress of your application!

Feel free to PM me

Last edited by MrsHawkini; Jan 31st 2011 at 4:55 pm.
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Old Jan 31st 2011, 4:59 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Thanks so much for the response, VERY useful and much appreciated.

You are certainly correct about the research making my head explode!
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Old Jan 31st 2011, 5:21 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Originally Posted by IanH88 View Post
Thanks so much for the response, VERY useful and much appreciated.

You are certainly correct about the research making my head explode!
I am only just out of that stage by a week. Having Visa in passport and somewhere to stay once we arrive is a huge weight lifted.... I think it will all be worth it in the end!
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Old Feb 1st 2011, 2:37 am
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Because some of what you ask is frequently requested here, we've created WIKI entries for those questions:

http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Category:USA

For example, what to do first:

http://britishexpats.com/wiki/List_o...n_about_Moving

How to get the kids in School:

http://britishexpats.com/wiki/What_d...kids_in_school

Open bank account, etc.

Basically many of us recommend starting a massive list--a bit horking huge list in which you put down everything you can possibly think of to do (i.e. visit the pub one last time, pack the stuff in the attic, sell the car, etc). Because the relocation, especially with kids, is such a complex and extensive move you really need to start making a list so as you not to forget something (and yes, even with a big list you'll be on the plane and say 'doh! I forgot to do _____ ).
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Old Feb 1st 2011, 2:48 am
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Originally Posted by MrsHawkini View Post
6. Our employer initially said we would be sponsored for GC after we moved to US.
Are you telling us this was all a verbal agreement and nothing in writing?

Now they have said they require us to live there for 12mths first before they commit to the costs. As they have funded 2 L1s I am not going to argue this at the moment as I see where they are coming from. It is recommended to start the process as soon as possible as it can take years to get a decision. I think it is best applying once L1s are approved though...
Do your employers understand that the costs of getting you a GC are a lot less than the costs of repatriating you at the end of your contract? Assuming you have good repatriation clauses in your contract - have you?

I always see it as a bad sign when employers start going cold on GC sponsorship.
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Old Feb 1st 2011, 3:33 am
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Default Re: Order of priorities

The wiki, as mentioned...there's a good thing on relocation and what to look into about it.

House hunting, depends how long you're getting put up in temporary digs as to how important this is and how soon schools need registering with etc.

Greencard, get that in writing, but if you're L1A, it doesn't take that long.

Opening a bank account, every bank has different requirements...see what your employer uses, that'll probably make it quicker/easier, then sort out a better option such as a credit union.

Removals, plenty of threads on that...get many quotes, ask who they contract out on the other end, check those companies agains the scam moving website. When it happens, close to when you leave as presumably you'll still need your crap until you leave. Have some essentials in your suitcase like bottle opener etc and expect anything from 6-15 weeks for things to arrive, depends on the route and if you get a container for yourself or share etc. Basically, depends how much the company is going to pay.

Major stuff, look into the medical insurance coverage, their repatriation costs if it doesn't work out and you get laid off 2 weeks in etc.
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Old Feb 1st 2011, 3:39 am
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Default Re: Order of priorities

regarding shipping. Our L1 package included shipping (by Pickfords).

We got a 40 ft container and it was packed for us for 2 days immediately prior to us leaving the country (ie we flew out the day afterwards). It took about 4 weeks to reach us (was quoted 8 weeks i think) and by that time we had done 3 weeks in a hotel and were 1 weeks into our rental house. They called us when the goods reached our state and we gave them the delivery address at that point.

We also got a air freight container as part of the deal - packed at the same time. (think it was something like 6ft by 6ft). They promised that in 4 weeks and we had it in 2-3 (so a few days after getting rental).

We put clothing, selection of kitchenware, bedding, computers,paperwork that was not needed immediately but also couldn't wait 2-3 months for, towels, kids toys, etc in the airfreight.

Once we had a rental we went and bought a new bed for ourselves and it was delivered the day we moved in (generally over here they deliver same or next day - not like i used to find it in the UK).
The hotel was a suite (so it had a basic dinette) so we didnt need kitchen stuff on day 1 - but could get some basic items to use the first week of the rental til air freight arrived. We bought a cheap fold up chair and table too and then made do the few days we were without the real stuff. We bought a US laptop on the househunting trip (which didnt result in us renting for various reasons) so we used that in the hotel til ours arrived in the air freight.

I cant comment on cost as the bills were paid directly by the employers.
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Old Feb 1st 2011, 4:31 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Originally Posted by IanH88 View Post
I'm trying to determine a list of priorities for mine and my families upcoming move to LA
Have you visited LA before and are you familiar with it?
Do you know which area you want to live in already?

If you can't afford to do a reconnaissance trip before you emigrate, my advice would be to rent a home for about 6 months (not an apartment if you can avoid it), until you do become familiar with everything.

Buying now may end up being a terrible decision if you end up with the wrong area/neighborhood/type and size of house, distance to jobs, etc.
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Old Feb 1st 2011, 4:40 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Originally Posted by Brat1 View Post
Ian

Just thought of something else that we had a small problem with, remember if you have credit cards or are keeping a UK bank account to tell them you're leaving the country and get them to change everything in to your new address, it's always easier to do all that stuff when your in the UK, unlike us who forgot and had major problems with our bank account (I know, I am a total idiot, but then tell me something I don't already know)!!! And remember to cancel things like AA membership, TV license, just wee things that keep cropping in to my head, seems like a lifetime ago we went through all this but it's only a year ago - doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself
You might not want to change your address for all of these things - recent threads, for example, on Barclaycard cancelling CC accounts for expats, saying they are no longer allowed a B'card if they are not resident in the UK - but one of the posters said he has kept his B'card account address as his mum's address and so he has managed to keep it ... even if you only intend to use Britsh CC's when on holiday in the UK (as I used to do), it may be worth keeping the account in a UK address.
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Old Feb 1st 2011, 4:48 pm
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Default Re: Order of priorities

Originally Posted by MrsHawkini View Post
Rental for 4 bed house in NC costing $2,500
Wow, although I don't know exacly where you've rented, I am sure you could have got a better deal than that. Maybe several hundred $ less (even in Raleigh).
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