Working in the USA

The USA remains the largest economy in the world for jobs and is a popular destination for entrepreneurs. With people being moved here by employers to expats wanting to open their own businesses, the country has a good understanding of US business and work life.

Finding a job

Expatriates starting a new life in the country are recommended to research their career opportunities as this is a requirement of getting a US visa. You may automatically get a job due to a company transfer but you may also need to find work on your own.

The government will provide resources with information for job seekers, which will provide a job profile and job requirements.

There is a selection of resources for searching for employment in the USA. Expats can start off by looking at some popular job websites such as,

  • Career Jet
  • Indeed
  • USA Jobs
  • Career Builder
  • Simply Hired

Many expats who move to the USA can consult these job portals, local classifieds, newspapers or can get help from a job agency.

Companies that are located in the country may apply to get foreign workers due to American citizens not being able to do the job or because they are not qualified or skilled enough.

The USA wants individuals who are very skilled in professional areas such as the IT and medical sector. These jobs are increasing.

Members of family who have come with expats may also want to work in the country. Individuals are able to work if their spouse or parent has been given permission for employment. Once they are residents, a spouse will be able to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for permission for employment.

Job application process

 Send a potential employer a formal written application. Filling out various application forms is necessary when you are applying at international companies.

  1. Applications are usually sent by email.
  2. Your curriculum vitae will then be viewed by HR – Ensure that this is written professionally showing your work history and qualifications
  3. Write out a cover letter which shows why you want this job and why you think you are an ideal candidate
  4. Give references upon request

Facts about working in the USA

  • Business hours: The working hours are Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, however most people do tend to do over time
  • Business language: The main language spoken is English, do not use slang when speaking to professionals.
  • Dress Code: The dress code for where you work can depend on the job location. Formal suits and smart work wear must be worn in corporate environments. If this is not the case you will be told before you start
  • Greeting: A handshake is the usual greeting in business
  • Punctuality: This is valued in the country so expats should ensure that they are not late for business meetings as this will be seen as sign of disrespect.
  • Socialise with colleagues and clients as business in the USA is sometimes conducted in an informal setting such as over lunch in a restaurant.

Opening your own Business

Expats moving to the US may be more interested in becoming their own boss by opening their own business.

To run your own business, you should research business ideas and do market research around the area. By having a clear idea of the service you want to offer will help you with your business plan.

This website for Small Business Administration will offer you resources in helping you become your own boss. This website will give you a step by step process of creating your own business plan and will also help you find a mentor who can provide guidance through the process. Offices for this company can be found in many cities and will advise you in starting up your own business.

Social Security Number

Before starting a job in the United States, expatriates are required to get a social security number. This number is used by employers to report earnings to the government and will help calculate tax as well as receive social security benefits in the future.

Even if you are not working in the US, it is recommended to apply for one so that you receive government services that you may be entitled to as a resident.

How to get a Social Security Number?

To be able to apply for a social security number, you must be in the country for 10 days however the application form can be completed in your home country when applying for a visa for the USA.

Depending on if you are an immigrant or a non-immigrant; there are different ways on how this can be obtained.

  • If you are a permanent resident/immigrant the social security number can be applied for in your home country at the same time as you are applying for the immigrant visa. You also are able to visit the Social Security Office in person when you have arrived in the US.
  • If you are non-immigrant, when you have arrived in the country you will need to visit the Social Security Office to make an application for a social security number and card. This can be located in all towns and cities

Expats are advised that they must wait ten days after arriving in the US before applying at a social security office so that the Department of Homeland Security documents have been processed online. You will not be charged for a social security number. Once you have made your application, you will receive a social security card with the number after two weeks this must be kept safe.