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List of things to do after Entering USA – Work Visa (H1B, L1)

The wait is over for you…You are in America ! You might be wondering what are the things that I should I do after I enter America on H1B Visa.  Here is the checklist, read below for more info on each of them.

  1. Calling Home – Calling Cards, Online Skype, Google Voice, etc.
  2. Update Employer or H1B Sponsor
  3. Apply for SSN
  4. Apply for State ID
  5. Apply for Learner’s Driving Permit
  6. Search for Apartment to Rent, Add your name to Lease
  7. Open a Bank Account
  8. Apply for Secure Credit Card
  9. Get Utilities bills like electricity, gas or  home phone on your Name
  10. Get a Mobile Phone with plan – Prepaid or Postpaid
  11. Get Health Insurance from US health care providers

Calling Home – Calling Cards, Online Skype, Google Voice, etc.

The first thing you want to do is call home. Quick and easy way is to buy calling cards from any gas station or in airport to make calls.  When buying ask the guy in gas station or other store the cheap calling card to your home country and get it.  Also, if you have access to internet, you can add credit in Skype or Google Voice and call your home.  For instance, I got free internet at JFK airport Jetblue terminal, I used Google Voice to call home.  Don’t just delay, your family would be waiting for your call…

Update Employer or H1B, L1 Sponsor

You need to update your employer that you have reached America and ready to start work. You will need to get information from them on what all things have to be done prior to joining the company. Some companies have restrictions like you need to go through drug test, etc.

Apply for SSN

You cannot get paid without having Social Security Number(SSN). The very first thing you need to do is apply for SSN. Make sure you check the SSN website online and carry all the required documents to SSN Office.   You will need to work with your employer on this and get guidance if needed.

Apply for State ID

You should not carry your Passport to all the locations as Photo ID as it is risky. Read the importance of Photo ID in America.  You need to apply for a state ID, to use it as a Photo ID.   Just apply it. You may not need it after your driving license as it can add as photo ID. But, honestly, don’t try to save $20 and avoid it….Just get the State ID.

Apply for Learner’s Driving Permit

Make sure you visit the state DMV website and get the information on Learners driving license Permit. You be prepared, read the material related to Learner’s permit and give the exam.  It is important for you to do this, so that it does not delay your time to getting Driver’s license . Read the article : How to get Driving license in America for Internationals

Search for Apartment to Rent, Add your name to Lease

You need to look for the apartments around your work or wherever your colleagues live, your choice. Visit few of them and make a decision.  Best thing is to search online or use websites like rent.com or craigslist. Having rental lease on your name will build your rental history, which will help you to get apartments in the future.  If you are new, the apartment’s management would ask for a letter stating your stay in US and work info just to verify your identity. You may need to get that in order to rent a place.

Open a Bank Account

First thing you have to do is open a bank account and deposit all your cash in it.  You can open a checking account or savings account.  Just make sure the account you open does not have any minimum cash holding requirements or annual fee.  Also, it is a good idea to check with your employer their preferred bank and open an account in that bank, just will make your life easier.  This is very important for building credit history.  It is your first step to build credit history.

Apply for Secure Credit Card for Credit History

After opening a bank account, the next thing to do is apply for a secure credit card.  You should ask the bank that you opened either checking or savings account to issue you a secure credit card. It is nothing but a credit card that is given by the bank for less amount like $500 by taking cash from you as deposit. This is very important for building your credit history. Read Importance of credit history . You will need to have good credit history to take any car loans, personal loans, mortgage, etc.

Get Utilities bills like electricity, gas or  home phone on your Name

Once you rent an apartment or share your friend’s apartment, the first thing you need to do is get utility bills on your name.  It could be electricity bill, home phone or cooking gas bill.  This is an important thing to start building your credit history.  Many ignore the importance of this and just leave it on someone else’s name as it is work, but do NOT do that…it is important for your own good. In America, everything is driven by history.

Get a Mobile Phone with plan – Prepaid or Postpaid

You will need a Mobile Phone, nothing works without a mobile phone.  You have two choices.  Prepaid and Postpaid. Read this article Which mobile plan to buy in US ?  You may be asked for deposit, if you are going for postpaid plan as you do not have history…it is not a bad idea to go with it, if you have long term plans to stay in US…Or you can add your account with your friends account and make it a family plan.  At one time, I had about 5 phones on my name…

Get Health Insurance from US health care providers

The most important thing in America is having proper Health Insurance.  Read Why NOT to be in America without Health Insurance.  Check with your employer and see the health insurance options available…If it takes long to process, get a temporary health insurance until you get that sorted out. But, make sure you have a health insurance plan on your name all the time…

What has been your experience moving to America for work ? Share your thoughts.


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  1. I might fly to USA on or before Sep 2021 with my family. I’ve a son (3 year) old & spouse.

    The question is, should I need to apply for SSN for all 3 ?

  2. Can u update about travel facilities? Minimum to max cab charges, public transport facilities and charges related to it.
    I am also concerned about electric items. I am from India. Will the mobile and laptop chargers directly work. I read in few articles we need to take extra adapters for this purpose.

    • Yes, the mobile and laptop will work. You just need a plug pin that is US type, they are geared to work globally. Cab charges vary by distance, you can check on Uber.com or other websites to get an idea. It can anywhere from 30 US to 70 USD or more, if longer. Public transport depends on city you live in and very cheap, you can check on the city website where you plan to go to get an idea of fares, they are in few dollars range.

  3. “Get a mobile phone with a plan” — YEAH — THAT’s the plan!!:)
    Truly, nothing works without a mobile phone in hand. It’s the main cog that drives your freedom machine when you finally land in America!
    Thanks for the rundown of everything I’ll need:)

    • Vicky,

      You can carry up to 10K USD w/o completing any customs formality. In US, on immediate basis you would need cash for:
      – house rental security deposit – typically 1 month rent, say 1.5-2K USD
      – miscellaneous expenses – say 1K USD

      I would suggest carrying an international travelers card w/ 2-3K balance and use those funds here. If they start depleting and you haven’t received your paycheck yet, someone in India can recharge the card. Its much more convenient than carrying cash or travel checks.

  4. My 2 cents for SSN application: If possible, wait for 2-3 weeks after entering USA before you apply for your SSN. It takes some time before your information is passed to local SSN offices and process is usually smoother after that.

    • If you are a dependent and don’t have SSN, then I think you can get state ID against your passport. Why I’m saying so because lot of house wives on H4 do get driving license without SSN.
      In case you are waiting for SSN, then better get the SSN first and apply for state ID.

  5. I worked in US for 5 (2000-2005) years .I am planning to work as h1b from 2013,can i use my old social security or apply for new.


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