Moving to the United States from Africa can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but also a challenging one. There are many things to consider before you pack your bags and board the plane, such as obtaining legal permission and finding a place to live.
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Obtaining Legal Permission to Enter the US
The first step to moving to the US is to get a visa or a green card that allows you to live and work in the country legally. There are different types of visas and green cards depending on your situation and purpose of moving. Some of the most common ways to obtain legal permission are:
- Employer sponsorship: If you have a US employer who wants to hire you, they can file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf. This can allow you to stay permanently in the US with a green card, or temporarily with a work visa.
- Family sponsorship: If you have a close relative who is a US citizen or a permanent resident, they can file a petition with USCIS on your behalf. This can allow you to stay permanently in the US with a green card, or temporarily with a family visa. The waiting time and availability of visas depend on your relationship and country of origin.
- Diversity visa lottery: If you are from a country with low rates of immigration to the US, you can enter the annual diversity visa lottery, which randomly selects 50,000 applicants for green cards. You need to meet some basic education and work requirements, and apply online during the specified period.
- Student visa: If you want to study in the US, you can apply for a student visa that allows you to enroll in an accredited educational institution. You need to have an acceptance letter from the school, proof of financial support, and academic records. A student visa does not allow you to work in the US, unless it is related to your studies or authorized by USCIS.
Finding a Place to Stay in the US
Once you have your visa or green card, you need to find a place to live in the US. Depending on your budget, preferences, and location, you have several options:
- Renting an apartment or a house: This is the most common option for newcomers who want to have their own space and privacy. You can search for rental listings online, through newspapers, or through real estate agents. You will need to sign a lease agreement, pay a security deposit, and provide proof of income and identity. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the US is $1,098 per month, but it varies widely by state and city.
- Sharing an apartment or a house: This is a cheaper option for newcomers who don’t mind living with other people. You can find roommates online, through friends, or through community organizations. You will need to agree on the rent, utilities, rules, and responsibilities with your roommates. The average rent for a room in the US is $600 per month, but it also depends on the location and quality of the place.
- Staying with family or friends: This is a convenient option for newcomers who have relatives or acquaintances in the US who are willing to host them. You will need to respect their rules and expectations, and contribute to their household expenses if possible. Staying with family or friends can help you save money and adjust to the new environment more easily.
- Using africallshop.com: This is an innovative option for newcomers who want to stay connected with their loved ones in Africa while living in the US. africallshop.com is a platform with mobile applications that allows you to make international calls to Africa at low rates. You can download the app for free, create an account, and start calling your family and friends anytime, anywhere.