Standing on the edge of Manhattan, with the New York skyline in the background, the Statue of Liberty stands as an icon for US migration.
For centuries now, Lady Liberty has welcomed hopeful migrants into the United States, arriving at the great nation’s mighty shores searching for a shot at the American dream.
Indeed, in 2019, an estimated 1.6 million immigrants arrived in the USA as the nation continued to lead the world as the most popular destination for those seeking to emigrate (way ahead of Germany in 2nd place).
However, 2020 and the global COVID pandemic inevitably slowed down the pace of migration.
Border closures and visa restrictions made it impossible for migrants to enter for long periods, and of course, the economic uncertainty forced many would-be arrivals to re-think their plans and either go elsewhere or else simply stay at home a while longer.
However, as 2022 begins, there is evidence that business is returning as (new) usual.
Once again, plucky dreamers worldwide are moving to the USA to make it happen.
That said, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has served as a seasonal reminder that the pandemic is not done yet, and therefore, anybody looking to move to the US still has some additional concerns to take into consideration
In this post, we will look at the ins and outs of immigration to the US amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
How To Move To The U.S During The COVID-19 Pandemic
The Covid vaccine has altered the pandemic as we know it, causing illnesses to be a lot milder and helping the world get back to normal. There are a few things that you should know about vaccine status when entering the US.
Firstly, if you have children of school age, you will be required to ensure that they are fully vaccinated against smallpox before attending public school. This has nothing to do with the pandemic, and it has been this way for years.
Concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists to the US have to be vaccinated against Coronavirus. The only people allowed in unvaccinated are US permanent residents, citizens and some travellers with exemptions.
Since 2020, global travel rules have been subject to pretty much non-stop change. As things stand, the US is open and is welcoming eligible travellers from most countries.
However, rules change almost weekly as countries are added to and removed from the red travel ban list.
It is important that you keep a close eye on the travel rules and make sure that you can travel when you wish to. Note that an airline will still gladly sell you a ticket even if you are not eligible to enter the country and will be unlikely to offer you a refund.
As rules do change so fast, it is definitely worth paying more to get a flexible flight deal or obtaining insurance in case the rules change after you book and you are no longer permitted to travel.
There are many ways to get a US visa, and I bet if you’re reading this post, you have a rough plan in mind for yours.
Whether you can apply for a visa through family, work or a visa scheme, make sure that you have the relevant visa to live and work in the US before entering the country.
As of 8th November 2021, the US eased its travel rules, and there is currently no automatic mandatory quarantine in place for arrivals.
However, passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to be quarantined in a private area such as a hotel or private residence.
However, the US has not introduced the (expensive) state-operated quarantine centres like other destinations have.
Getting a Bank Account
Opening a bank account in the US can be far more complicated than many people expect. If you don’t have any credit history the US, you may struggle to find a bank willing to give you an account.
This makes getting a job almost impossible and makes accessing your money and paying for stuff extra tricky and expensive if you are forced to use your old country’s bank account when living in the US.
Typically, people get a credit card, use it, and promptly make payments to establish a pattern of responsible creditworthiness.
However, getting in debt is a messy way to begin life in the US.
How to Open a Bank Account Without a US Residency
One great hack to get around this is to take advantage of the burgeoning fin-tech & challenger bank sector. Start-ups like Wise (formerly Transferwise) are positioning themselves as borderless banks and allow customers to effectively open a US bank account without residency via a multi-currency account with designated USD “pot”.
With a Wise account, you can get paid in USD, you can transfer money from your old bank account for low fees, and you can use their debit card for payments and ATM withdrawals.
Best of all, you don’t need to wait until you arrive in the US to do this – you can open up a Wise account right away. Wise is a firm favourite of freelancers, digital nomads, and e-commerce businesses.
The United States healthcare system is legendarily controversial and hard to navigate for outsiders.
While it offers world-class healthcare for those who can obtain it, many patients often find themselves heavily in debt following time in hospital.
On the other hand, those who cannot receive it are usually pretty much left to suffer for whatever reason.
The COVID pandemic has further strained the already fractured healthcare system.
As a result, public hospital beds are scarcer than ever, and private health care premiums are set to rise.
Make sure that you can afford health insurance before deciding to move to the US.
The economic fallout from the COVID pandemic has caused some pretty intense inflation across the US.
Coupled with something of a housing bubble, the average American house price has increased by a staggering 16% since 2019. This means that rent prices are already rising and are set to increase further.
Therefore, you will probably need to budget a little more than you may have expected to find a landing pad and place to live.
So, if you’re planning on moving to the US this year, keep referring back to this list for some helpful hints!