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US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Old Jun 6th 2017, 1:11 pm
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Red face US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Hello I have done some searching and read up on a lot of other posts, but this is my first time posting. I'm hoping for some confirmation from those in similar situations, or correcting/advice where possible. Here's our situation, me V, husband N, and daughter E:

N's British family moved to the States for work before he was born. N was born in the US and is a US citizen with dual nationality. N moved back to Europe with his family when he was 12, and to England when he was 15/16. This is around the time we met. We dated for ten years before marrying, in the UK, in 2014. Our daughter has just turned 2. We have plenty of shared history, photos, bills, purchases, etc together.

We would like to move to the US while E is still young, so she /hopefully/ won't be too negatively affected by leaving our entire family behind. Also while we're still young enough to set up a new life and give it a good go, so we're looking at a timescale of approx. 2 years, in an ideal world. This gives us time to work on any qualifications that could be well received (N is an SQL Server Admin but without much formal qualification, and I'm a Buyer, also all experience with nothing on paper).

We have decided, for now, to aim for Orlando. No judgement please - we are fully aware living there is nothing like vacationing, but have received enough positive advice from others who have relocated to Orlando and the surrounding area, and if we don't /try/ it, we will always wonder, 'what if we had?'. We have also looked into Gainesville FL and Atlanta GA in as much detail as we can, so they are options if we get to Orlando and can't stand it.

Anyway, we need to get on with my visa application sooner rather than later, as it seems like that can take up to 18 months in some cases. N needs to renew his US passport, as it expires next year, and hopefully backdate his tax filings - we weren't aware he had to file at all as he's never worked in the US before.

Here's where my questions start!

I understand I'll need to file an I-130 as an 'alien relative'. Related to this, I'll also need either a US sponsor earning over $25,525/yr, or N will need to show assets of 3x that amount. When do those assets need to be available? We will be selling our house, which will give us enough cash in the bank, but that can obviously take some time. We may have someone in the US who would be willing to sponsor my daughter and I, but she is already supporting her children so can't rely on her at this point. If we were to ask her, and she was supporting her family as well as herself, would she still only need to be earning $25,525 to sponsor us?

Providing the I-130 is successful and I'm able to get a visa, either through a US sponsor or N's 'assets', do I need anything else to be able to fly out to the US with him and look for a job? I was reading about the K-3 visa understand that isn't always necessary with an I-130 visa. Is there anything else, besides the I-130, that I need to apply for? Can I work in the US upon entry?

We've also been told we're likely to struggle with getting job offers before we move to FL, even if we apply from a PO box or put on the covering letter that we're planning to move ASAP and are paying for all costs ourselves. Does anyone have any recent experience with this? If this proves to be the case, we are prepared for N to fly out on his own and lease somewhere short term to apply for jobs and hopefully secure something, but obviously we'd like to have as many loose ends here tied up already.

Once we arrive, we would obviously have no credit, as all our history is in the UK. Will filing his taxes (backdated) help our situation? We are ready to apply for a couple of UK AmEx credit cards to build some history with them and allow us to take out AmEx US cards when we get there, try and get a cheap car on credit, and most likely rely on holiday rentals/a private landlord to begin with while we build credit and collect some pay stubs.

How about unexpected costs? Obviously this all costs money, most of which I can find online. I'm interested in the costs of things those in the UK won't necessarily think to search for (i.e. how much do those of you in Orlando pay for sinkhole & flood insurance?). My list so far includes rent, federal taxes (which come out of your monthly paycheck??), property tax (not payable on rentals??), car insurance, health insurance, water/electric/cable & internet, childcare (if we're both working full time), car repayment (if we can get one on credit), home/flood/sinkhole insurance. Food, gas, cellphones. Is pest control a thing? HOA fees on rentals? Am I missing any regular expenses?

Aside from the regular things, there's the obvious big stuff - house sale, visa, removals/storage, flights, security deposits, replacing all the stuff we ditched in the UK, applying for new driving licenses/doing the test... but that's all we can think of so far. Are there any costs associated with getting our daughter into a state elementary school? Have I missed anything glaring there?

We would like to buy eventually but not before we're sure whether or not the life is for us. Also as I understand it we'd need two years of filed tax returns behind us before we'd be offered a mortgage with a half-decent rate.

If you made it all the way to the end of this crazy long post, THANK YOU. Any additional insight you may be able to offer would be invaluable to me at this point. I've read just about everything I can find online but now I need to talk to real people about things!
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 1:38 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Welcome to BE. Your post is going to get split up because some questions belong in the marriage based forum, and some belong here in the USA forum. Just so you're aware.

Answers will come soon.

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Old Jun 6th 2017, 2:43 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Originally Posted by vickyr View Post

How about unexpected costs? Obviously this all costs money, most of which I can find online. I'm interested in the costs of things those in the UK won't necessarily think to search for (i.e. how much do those of you in Orlando pay for sinkhole & flood insurance?). My list so far includes rent, federal taxes (which come out of your monthly paycheck??), property tax (not payable on rentals??), car insurance, health insurance, water/electric/cable & internet, childcare (if we're both working full time), car repayment (if we can get one on credit), home/flood/sinkhole insurance. Food, gas, cellphones. Is pest control a thing? HOA fees on rentals? Am I missing any regular expenses?

We would like to buy eventually but not before we're sure whether or not the life is for us. Also as I understand it we'd need two years of filed tax returns behind us before we'd be offered a mortgage with a half-decent rate.
I moved to the metro Orlando area from the UK and have lived here for 16 years. I think that the majority of negative feedback about this region is related to the summer climate and the tourist areas of Lake Beuna Vista, Kissimmee and SR27, which is not really representative of the majority of the metro area.

As a renter, you need not be concerned with property insurance as that is the sole responsibility of the landlord. Home contents insurance will vary depending on the property (adjoined apartments, condos etc will have a higher premium than a stand-alone property, for example). However contents insurance is not expensive.

My property insurance covers sink-hole damage - what I pay additional premiums for is hurricane damage - and that insurance is quite expensive. Where sticker-shock really applies is auto insurance, which is obscenely expensive here.

Only in coastal areas or around the St Johns river system is flood insurance a requirement. I live on a large chain of spring-fed lakes and my insurance carrier has never asked for flood coverage.

It's not advisable to minimize the impact of health insurance. Just lumping it in with other household expenses may trivialize the significance of this expense.

If you are renting, pest control, HOA fees etc should (routinely) all be packaged in your monthly rent payment.

As mentioned above, I have lived in Orlando for a while and don't have the jaundiced view that is common on this forum. Additionally my daughter is an Orange County Sheriffs Deputy, so we have a pretty good handle on crime/safety in the area - any questions - just ask...
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 2:52 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

I can't help with everything but with some things. I'm the British wife of a US citizen and immigrated last December. As your husband is legally living in the UK you can go through the DCF procedure at the London embassy. This is much quicker than the "standard processing" that I went through (as my husband was living in the USA) so I would urge you to take advantage of this. You might want to research "DCF London" on this site. There are many here who went through this.

The I-130 is just stage 1. This is a petition, filed by your husband, to request permission for you to be invited to apply for visas for you and your child. Your child will also need a visa as your husband left the USA at the age of 12 so cannot pass on citizenship to her. So there will be two petition fees and two visa fees to pay as immediate relative visas do not permit derivative visas - each immigrant must have a separate petition and application.

Once the petitions have been approved, you and your child will be invited to apply for visas and then have to have a medical in London and an interview at the embassy before your visas will be granted. You must then enter the USA before the expiry date on the visa (6 months from the date of the medical). If this is a 2-year plan it's too early to start now. But your husband really does need to start thinking about filing back taxes. All USCs MUST file a tax return each year, wherever they live in the world, unless they fall under the exemption category because they earn less than the federal minimum for filing. It's unlikely he will have to PAY any tax on his earnings but he must still file. Ignorance is no defense of this law, unfortunately.

Regarding sponsorship - you can use assets. You will need to demonstrate you have 3 x 125% of the federal poverty level for a household of 3 for that to qualify. The poverty levels increase each year for obvious reasons. This asset must be easily liquidated and cause no hardship to you. Cash in the bank, shares, second property, etc all count. Or your husband can leave ahead of you and get a job earning at least the required amount (125% of the federal poverty level for a household of 3). Of you can use a joint sponsor who must be either a USC or green card holder, over 18 and living in the USA. They will need to sign a contract with the government that's legally binding - it's not a small ask! They need to prove they are earning 125% of the federal poverty level for their own household size PLUS 2 (you and your daughter). In practice the sponsorship is rarely legally enforced but the fact remains that the joint sponsor could be sued if you turn to state welfare to support yourself.

The good news is that you will have an IR-1 visa which in turn means you are a permanent resident immediately upon arrival. This means you can work from the minute your passport is stamped at the airport.

Regarding looking for work - I applied for and was offered my current job before I left the U.K. Many employers don't understand the different types of visa and immigration statuses in the USA. Fortunately my employer has hired foreign spouses who arrived with CR-1 or IR-1 visas before and therefore knew that I was legally able to work immediately and with no sponsorship or paperwork required from them. I did apply for a job with another company that, despite my covering letter explaining what my immigration status will be and a copy of the USCIS webpage explaining that I have full permission to work immediately on arrival - blah, blah, blah.., immediately replied with "we do not sponsor overseas people". Clearly they had not read my letter and had no idea what "permanent resident" means. And they weren't the only ones! The bank struggled with my status for many weeks. They were adamant that I was a resident alien when I arrived because I didn't have the plastic green card right away and refused to accept my I-551 stamp in my passport as proof of status. But I digress!

I can't help with Orlando - we are about as far away as you can get from Orlando without leaving the mainland (Washington state). Driving varies from state to state so you'll need to check the Florida DMV web site to see what the requirements are for new residents. I can't help with schools as we don't have children.

Last edited by Twinkle0927; Jun 6th 2017 at 2:55 pm.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 3:28 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

I would get a job before limiting myself to a particular area.

Others will talk about the immigration procedure but one thing stuck out is your husband not filing his US taxes. Again, others will advise but I think this needs to be looked at carefully - think Boris Johnson - you may not owe any money thanks to the taxation treaty but you will need to sort out the paperwork. AFAIK, this won't affect either positively or negatively your credit history right now. There is a pinned post about credit history and how to improve it.

If you want a car on credit (either to lease or buy) then do this before you leave the UK and use International Autosource or Expatride. Costs reported recently on BE are about $4k deposit and $400 -$450 a month repayments for a smallish Ford SUV. Contact the companies to get quotes for your car. Car insurance is expensive. Again, get quotes if you can.
There are a couple of great threads here on BE about getting a job - how to do your resume (not CV!!), not mention visa or anything that hints about it even. "Legally allowed to work in the USA" is the sentence to use since it won't get filtered out by the software.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 3:56 pm
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Wouldn't the daughter automatically acquire US citizenship upon immigration, which means she doesn't count for I-864 calculations?
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 3:56 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

I will leave others to sort you out but I did want you to know that when your daughter enters the US on an approved IR-1 visa she will automatically become a US Citizen and is entitled to a US Passport. You should apply for her Certificate of Citizenship which is proof of this new status.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 4:07 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Originally Posted by petitefrancaise View Post
I would get a job before limiting myself to a particular area. ....
What you, I, or anyone else thinks about Orlando, or even Florida, is irrelevant when you are looking for a job. You are much more likely to have a positive experience with your move to the US if you have good jobs, so I would make that your #1 priority and cast your net far and wide. When I quit a job in NY soon after arriving I would have considered a job anywhere between Maryland and Texas, .... with the exception of Florida.

At very least, if you are absolutely determined to be in the vicinity of Orlando look for jobs in Jacksonville and Tampa too.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jun 6th 2017 at 4:11 pm.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 4:13 pm
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Hmmm yes the daughter would become a citizen upon arrival. The daughter would have an IR-2, not IR-1, visa.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 4:16 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Getting that first job is going to be quite a hurdle. Subsequent job applications will be easier just because you are already in the USA, with USA work experience, a USA network etc. Taking a job elsewhere at the beginning might well speed things up towards getting you to Florida, rather than waiting around for a job to come up there.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 4:17 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Originally Posted by Twinkle0927 View Post
.... This asset must be easily liquidated and cause no hardship to you. Cash in the bank, shares, second property, etc all count. .....
Not only "second property", your home can be included too at its realizable value net of mortgage and selling expenses.

The only restriction is that you can include your home's net realizable value OR the rental income from it, but not both.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 4:24 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Originally Posted by vickyr View Post

This gives us time to work on any qualifications that could be well received (N is an SQL Server Admin but without much formal qualification, and I'm a Buyer, also all experience with nothing on paper).

We have decided, for now, to aim for Orlando. No judgement please - we are fully aware living there is nothing like vacationing, but have received enough positive advice from others who have relocated to Orlando and the surrounding area, and if we don't /try/ it, we will always wonder, 'what if we had?'. We have also looked into Gainesville FL and Atlanta GA in as much detail as we can, so they are options if we get to Orlando and can't stand it.
Have you been examining local job listings to see just what is available that would fit with your abilities in the areas that you are interested in, and what such jobs pay? Even if you are not ready to apply yet, you should be getting a feel for what the job market is like and what kind of qualifications the employers are looking for. Unfortunately, the "formal qualifications" that you say you lack are prone to be rather big in the US.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 5:07 pm
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Has your husband filed all of his US tax returns & FBARs. If not, he will need to catch up urgently.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 5:08 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Originally Posted by Nutmegger View Post
.... you should be getting a feel for what the job market is like and what kind of qualifications the employers are looking for. Unfortunately, the "formal qualifications" that you say you lack are prone to be rather big in the US.
Indeed. It is common for most office jobs to request a degree even though there is no objective need for the person doing the job to have a degree. My employer really doesn't consider people, even for routine clerical jobs, unless they have a degree, so trying to get a technical job or one at a manager level (not necessarily with any people reporting to them), without having at least a bachelor's degree is likely to be an uphill struggle.
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Old Jun 6th 2017, 6:48 pm
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Default Re: US Husband, UK Wife & Daughter, Visa/Job/Unexpected Costs

Thank you everyone! I will have another look around and split my post appropriately

Awesome Wells, thank you for your comments Regarding health insurance, I apologise if lumping it in with everything else made it seem like I was trivialising it - I definitely am not! We have already looked into health insurance quotes, and have included the (huge) amount in our sums.

Twinkle, thank you!! I have done a lot of extensive reading about spousal visas and, because there are so many for all different types of immigrant, it got confusing incredibly fast! Now I have a name for the visa I'll need that makes searching for more info MUCH easier I don't suppose you have any more insight regarding property as an asset... We only have the one home, but would be selling it to move, so it would not technically cause us hardship...? After talking with my husband about the friend we had in mind, I don't think we'll be able to use another sponsor, so we're looking at assets or him getting a job and moving ahead of us. Obviously the first would be preferable! Thank you for the advice on job hunting too - I'm working on the assumption I won't be able to get a job before leaving, but would of course still do my best.

petitiefrancaise, Pulaski, Cook_County, I didn't mean to trivialise the tax filing either, so apologies for that. We understand how important it is, N is looking into what he needs to do as we speak We are going to be looking for jobs all over (Orlando, Jacksonville and Gainesville all seem to be good areas for his type of job), but for the sake of this post, Orlando is our first choice. We are prepared to spend a fair bit flying him out for interviews and for him to move ahead of us if the right opportunity came up. We are in total agreement that moving to where the work is is more important than the location, at least in the beginning, because as you say, once we have a history and a permanent US residence, getting more interviews should, hopefully, come easier. Thank you for your advice, it's so valuable to get it from British expats (so far I've mostly been dealing with US citizens, so it's hard to build accurate expectations).

rjps, Rete, thank you for that info! The last thing I read was that she'd need to reside in the US for 5 years before she automatically naturalised, so that's even better!

Nutmegger, Pulaski, sorry, I could have been clearer. He does have a degree, so hopefully getting past HR should be fine, at least for him. He's working on the other certifications the jobs out there ask for. We have been checking places like Indeed every few days to see what jobs are available, where they are and what they ask for so we can build our resumes around them. For myself, I'm happy to take whatever I can get (clerical, cashier, gas station) to begin with when we arrive, providing hubby is able to support us. We're prepared for him to travel while daughter and I are in the UK. What are common expectations from employers?... i.e. in the UK, giving 1-3 months notice is commonplace. Is that the same in the US, or will he be expected to start immediately? I know the answer to that will depend on the job, but it would be useful to know standard practice.

Thank you everyone!
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