Moving from the Philippines to the USA is a life-changing adventure! Before boarding that plane, plan carefully and prepare for a smooth transition to your new life!
I’ve done this journey and I know it’s not easy. In this guide, I’ll share essential things to do before making the big move.
Visa and Immigration Matters
Get the Appropriate Visa.
Before anything else, make sure that you have the necessary visa to enter and stay in the USA legally. You may need a tourist visa, student visa, work visa, or immigrant visa. Check the official website of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines for up-to-date information and requirements. Keep in mind that visa application wait times can be long. Book your interview schedule as early as possible.
Gather Required Documents.
As part of the visa application process, you’ll need various supporting documents, such as a valid passport, passport-sized photos, financial documents, and letter of invitation (if applicable). Prepare these documents meticulously to avoid delays or complications.
Understand Immigration Laws.
Familiarize yourself with the immigration laws and regulations of the USA. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as an immigrant or non-immigrant will help you navigate the system with confidence. There are immigration requirements in the Philippines as well. If you are going to the US as an overseas Filipino worker, you may need to go through a Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS). You may also need to secure an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).
Create a Budget.
Moving to a new country involves significant expenses, so it’s crucial to create a detailed budget for your first few months. Factor in costs such as travel, accommodation, living expenses, and emergency funds. If you need help checking how much you’ll spend monthly, I created a video to help you:
Exchange Currency Wisely.
Decide on how much money you’ll need on your first few weeks and months in the US. Convert your Philippine pesos to US dollars. Check the best exchange rates from banks and avoid unnecessary fees.
Set Boundaries and Healthy Expectations with Family and Friends
When you move to the USA, some of your friends and relatives will start thinking that you will be rich. Some of them will be asking for financial help every now and then. Early on, it’s helpful to have a conversation about money with your immediate family. This way, they’ll know that the first few years in the US will be difficult and you probably won’t have much leeway to lend or send a lot of money!
Health and Insurance
Schedule a comprehensive medical check-up before leaving. It’s better to detect any medical issues before leaving. Healthcare can be expensive in the USA. Get the necessary vaccines and bring medical records with you. Some immigrant US visas require medical checkup so this may be required for you anyway.
Visit a dentist.
Dental services are also expensive in the USA. Before leaving, get your teeth cleaned, filled, and extracted in the Philippines.
Accommodation and Living Arrangements
Research Housing Options.
Housing will be one of your biggest expenses in the USA. Most likely, you will be staying at an apartment or a rental house. Even before traveling, check your options. Consider factors like proximity to work or school, public transportation, and safety. Watch the videos below for tips on how to choose an apartment or house in the USA.
Check with your employer if they will provide temporary housing for you. If not, book a hotel or AirBnB. To save money, ask friends or relatives to host you for a few days. Here’s how to book hotel or AirBnB in the USA.
Education and Career
Transfer Academic Records.
If you plan to pursue college or higher education in the USA, secure a copy of your transcript of records. This will be useful. In any case, the school may still require certified copies of your transcript if you apply for graduate school.
Professional Licensure and Certification.
If your profession requires licensure or certification, research the requirements in the USA and start the application process early. For nurses, this will not be much of a problem since they need to pass the NCLEX before moving to the US for work.
If you’re moving to the USA for work, start exploring job opportunities and networking within your industry. Online job portals and professional networking platforms can be valuable resources. Check out the Jobs section of Linkedin.com or Indeed.com for potential jobs.
Cultural and Social Adjustment
Learn About American Culture
As Filipinos, we sometimes think that we know a lot about American culture. If your exposure is only through movies, podcasts, and media, there is so much more to learn! So take the time to learn about American culture, customs, and social norms. Understanding the culture will help you adapt more easily to your new surroundings. Also, there are many different types of American accent. There’s the New Yorker accent, Boston accent, Southern accent, and even Filipino American accent.
Connect with Filipino Communities
Seek out Filipino communities or organizations in your new area. They can provide valuable support, guidance, and a sense of belonging as you adjust to life in the USA. The best tool for this is Facebook! There’s a lot of groups for Filipinos in different cities and states. Just be careful with scams online.
Legal and Personal Matters
Update Legal Documents.
Update important legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and beneficiaries to reflect your move to the USA. If you have real property in the Philippines, make sure that you have someone you can trust to look after it.
Set Up International Communication
Stay connected with loved ones in the Philippines by setting up international communication channels like Skype, Viber, or WhatsApp. Don’t bother with International Roaming with Smart or Globe telecoms if you plan to stay in the US for several years.
Moving to a different country can be emotionally challenging. My wife and I have gone through this! It’s tough. In many cases, you will be faraway from your parents, family, and friends. But you can still prepare yourself emotionally. Embrace change with an open heart and a positive mindset. Be patient with yourself as you adjust to your new environment.
Take the time to say heartfelt goodbyes to friends and family. Share your excitement about the journey ahead and cherish the memories you’ve created together. Just don’t eat too much when there’s a lot of food in those Despedida parties!
Pack essentials and sentimental items that you’ll need for your first few weeks in the USA. Consider the weather and lifestyle in your new location.
Secure Important Contacts
Keep important contacts, such as Philippine embassy or consulate information, at hand in case of emergencies. Make at least two copies of your passport, visa, green card, and other important documents.
Moving from the Philippines to the USA is an adventure filled with opportunities to grow, learn, and thrive. By taking these essential steps before your departure, you’ll be better equipped to embrace the challenges and joys that await you in your new home. Remember to stay true to yourself, keep an open mind, and embrace this exciting chapter in your life with enthusiasm and determination.
Want to add a tip or two?
Did I forget an important tip? Feel free to add your tip in the comments section below!