Tuesday, January 31

Settling in the United States: some advice

Crossing the Atlantic to discover the United States is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. Land of immigration for centuries, this country continues to fascinate and always attracts more contenders. It is however no longer as simple to settle there.

It has become difficult to settle permanently in the United States: since 1990, the government has set a threshold of 675,000 immigrants per year. Work visas are distributed drop by drop, promoting illegal immigration.

The need for a visa

Unless you are working illegally, which is not recommended, you must have a visa to work in the United States. The myth of easy work has fallen into disuse. A work visa allows you to obtain a Social Security number, a Social Security number which allows you to identify yourself in the country and without which you will not be able to open a bank account or benefit from the minimum social protection, which remains insufficient, however.

The homeland of lawyers

In the land of trials of all kinds, lawyers are kings! A Frenchman working in a large finance company confided to us that recently the management had been afraid to dismiss an employee who had alcohol problems because he risked bringing them a lawsuit. As an expatriate, whether in immigration visa procedures or when setting up a business, everything is done through a lawyer: it’s simpler, faster but also expensive.

Health and housing: two major issues

 Health :

No law obliges an employer (or an employee) to contribute to health. But generally, most large companies contribute “benefits” including health and retirement plans to cover you, through unscrupulous insurance companies. Reimbursement and reimbursed care vary by company. If your company does not contribute for you, it is strongly advised to take out insurance since a simple visit to the general practitioner costs on average $ 120; up to $ 500 for a specialist. There are two solutions available to you: take out French insurance, of the CFE (Caisse des Français de abroad) type, to which you will need to add a complementary mutual because you will be covered based on French social security, much lower than American rates. Or take out local insurance. Depending on the case, you will have more or less freedom to choose your doctor.


in the United States is generally expensive, especially in large cities, especially New York, San Francisco, Boston and Washington. To find accommodation, the two most common solutions are classified ads called Classified in the “Real Estate” section of local weeklies and the call to an agency (Real Estate Agency), which generally takes 15% commission. Sharing an apartment is the cheapest way to find accommodation.

Often advantageous taxation

Taxation in the United States is very complex and it is not uncommon to call on experts to find your way! If you are a tax resident (those who hold a green card or who have resided in the United States for more than 183 days in the last calendar year, for example), you will be taxed as a United States citizen.

To pay your taxes, you have the choice between the annual declaration or the withholding tax (“Pay as you earn”) with an annual readjustment. Certain donations and health expenses may be deductible.

Generally, the French who live in the United States are winners in terms of taxes, compared to France, the taxes ranging between 15 and 36% depending on income and family situation.

To better integrate into the country of Uncle Sam

It is important to successfully integrate and improve your English, to rub shoulders with the local population. However, if you are a little homesick and want advice, French networks exist. Beyond the relational aspect, they often constitute a wealth of information (housing, employment …) which save time and sometimes, better integrate. Two main channels exist FIAFE (International Federation of French and French Speaking Abroad’s), an association which has reception points in the main cities of the United States, the network of Alliances Françaises, which offer cultural activities varied (films, exhibitions …) and which generally have a library.