Your First 30 Days: A Checklist

Leaving home and family behind is hard enough. Starting a new life in the US can be even tougher, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the things you need to do.

We aim to make that transition as seamless as possible. Here is a checklist of what you should be able to accomplish within 30 days of your arrival.

Remember to be patient with yourself during this major life event. Make your health and well-being as much a priority as getting a job or furthering your career.


·         Save back-up copies of important documents onto an external hard drive or uploaded in a cloud-based service like Google Drive or Dropbox.

·         Have printed copies of your resume and cover letters ready.

·         Prepare any relevant migration documents.

·    Secure certified copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, police clearances, etc.

When You First Arrive

·         Sign up for telecommunication services. There are four different types of mobile phone carriers in the US (national, regional, prepaid and resellers), each with their own brands and a  variety of price points to suit your needs. It’s up to you to determine what works best with your budget and whether you’d like to purchase the phone(s) and contract(s) online or in a brick and mortar store. In most circumstances, you’ll need to present a valid credit card, your home address, and some cash for a down payment. Check each carrier’s website for terms and conditions. 

·        You will likely stay with a relative or a friend when you first arrive--take the time to browse local newspapers, neighborhood forums and websites for your next place to rent.

Establish Institutional Support

·         As a noncitizen, you can apply for a Social Security number in the Philippines when filing for an application for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State. Otherwise, you can visit a Social Security office in person once you get to the U.S. An SSN is useful when applying for work and an assortment of government services. However you do not need to physically have it with you at all times--keep it with the rest of your important documents. For a full list of requirements, visit the Social Security Administration’s website.

·         At some point, you’re going to need a driver’s license (or a state identification card). The process to obtain this varies from state to state, but as an immigrant you’ll be required to complete a knowledge test, a vision exam and a practical test. You’ll also need to verify your legal presence, residency documents and social security number (there are exceptions to this rule that require additional paperwork). Check your local Department of Motor Vehicles for further details.

·        Apart from opening up a checking/savings account, it’s imperative that you start building a favorable credit score by applying for a secured credit card. Terms and conditions vary from issuer to issuer, but most major banks will require proof of income, proof of address, a form of identification and a security deposit. It can take anywhere from a number of months to years, but an excellent credit rating will mean more favorable terms when you take out loans for cars, housing, education or even a better credit card in the future.

·         Obtaining health care in the U.S. can be complicated. Employers normally sponsor your health insurance but other options include private and public providers. Again, this varies from state to state. Your best bet is to speak with our advisors to ensure coverage that best suits your needs.

When You’re More Settled

·         Take time to explore your neighborhood and be a tourist while you can.

·     Most major US cities have comprehensive websites for getting around the city using public transportation--consult yours for transit cards and bus/train schedules.

·    Many cities also have a community center or YMCA--find yours to join social and recreational activities.

·         Visit your local public library and sign up for a free library card.

·         Stay attentive to local news to familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood.

At the end of your first 30 days, congratulate yourself. You are well on your way to establishing yourself in the US. Share what you thought of this list in the FORUMS.  Which items did you find were most useful?  What would you like to add to the list?