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Stateside Life

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Your preparations and stress paid off! You got your US visa; you’ve booked your flight; and you are moving to the United States for real! This is it!

But wait just a minute!

Before you start packing, you need to plan for these 5 things right after you land in America! Save this article or print it out because I will provide some practical steps that you can follow. If you have any question, feel free to comment below or message me at cluelessintheus@gmail.com.

Moving to the USA feels like restarting your life, but in a foreign land.

Do you remember the first time you rented a room or an apartment in College? How about when you first moved out of your parents’ house to start building your career? Or when you first got married?

In all of these cases, you had to buy almost everything you needed. Sometimes you received gifts and giveaways from your family and friends.

When you first arrive in the USA, you will need to buy a lot of things! A lot!

Thanks to the World Wide Web, you can now order most of your needs online. This is even better for the bigger items such as a sofa or mattress, especially if you don’t have a pickup truck!

Here’s a list of all the things you will need to buy right after you arrive in the USA and secured your first apartment.

Most of the items below are from Amazon.com. If you ever purchase on Amazon, make sure to signup for Amazon Prime membership to enjoy free two-day shipping and other perks.

In March 2015, I received my US R-1 Visa, which allowed me to accept a job offer in the Philippines. If you’re not familiar, R-1 is the visa granted for religious workers to work legally in the USA. Although I am not a pastor, I moved to the USA to take on a job with a religious organization, which is tre church I belong to–The United Methodist Church.

Based on conversations with our organization’s lawyer, and based on my reading of the requirements, I need to wait until I have completed two (2) years of service with my current organization before I could apply for a Green Card.

My official first day of work was May 1, 2015. That meant that the earliest time I could apply for a Green Card is May 1, 2017.

Just to make sure that I would not be a out-of-status in the US, my employer applied for an extension of my R-1 visa. The initial R-1 visa is good for two and a half years, renewable for another 2.5 years for a total of 5 years.

We got the extension but I didn’t apply right away. I got occupied by my responsibilities at work, which is why it took me another year to apply.

Here’s our Green Card timeline

My family and I first moved to Nashville in the USA in 2015. At that first move, Cha and I didn’t really decide how long we were going to stay here and when we will go back to the Philippines.

I was granted an R-1 visa because I work with a global agency of the United Methodist Church. Since the R-1 is only good for a maximum of 5 years, I needed to apply for a green card if I wanted to keep working here.

Sometime in late 2017, we decided to apply for the green card so we could continue staying and working in the US.

We’ve been in the USA now for almost 3 years. I had been on a work visa and we recently renewed it. So we can stay here until the early parts of 2020 without any problems.

This also means that we can apply now for a Green Card or Permanent Resident status. The big question is should we?

This process can be complicated and we may need the help of a lawyer to apply for it. I asked some friends of mine about the process and did a bit of research. I also asked for quotation from some lawyers.

It’s Christmas time! Nothing induces nostalgia among Filipinos in America than this season. Back in the Philippines, the Christmas season officially starts when the -BER months come around.

Early Start of the Christmas Season

To some people, it’s a joke, but there are those who take it seriously. In the United States, Thanksgiving is a big holiday, probably bigger than Christmas. Who could forget the shopping spree–Black Friday and Cyber Monday–that follows it?

Filipinos (at least the ones in the Philippines) don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in November and there’s nothing that prevents us from setting up decorations as early as September or October.

Many Filipinos consider the United States as the “Land of Milk and Honey,” and that if you had the chance to go there, your life will never be the same. If you just get there, you will be swimming in dollars and you can lift yourself and your family out of poverty.

Some Filipinos may have found that to be true. And even for those who do struggle, life in the USA tends to be more comfortable than life in the Philippines. The good thing about working and living in the US is that you earn dollars. And if you convert your money to Philippine Pesos, you’d get a lot! If you had $1,000, that would be equal to around PhP50,000, depending on the exchange rate.

Alas, you earn in dollars, you also spend in US dollars. And if you’re not careful, you also get into the consumeristic, materialistic lifestyle of most Americans.