From Nomad to Neighbor: Tips for Remote Workers Relocating to the United States

By Natalia Wolting  • Mar 11, 2024
Woman fill out a visa application

Living and working remotely has become increasingly popular, allowing many to explore the world while earning a living. However, for those seeking a more permanent base in the United States, transitioning from a remote worker abroad to a resident requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some tips and information to help guide your journey:

Visa Considerations

For remote workers relocating to the U.S., securing the appropriate visa is paramount. The most common path involves employer sponsorship for an employment-based visa. According to the National Foundation for American Policy, H-1B visas, designed for specialty occupations requiring a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, are the most commonly issued employment-based visas accounting for over 180,000 applications in 2022. However, the process can be complex and competitive, with quotas and lengthy processing times.

Alternatively, individuals employed by their own U.S. company abroad may qualify for an L-1 visa, specifically designed for intracompany transfers. However, this option has stricter requirements, including a minimum of one year’s employment with the foreign branch before transfer.

For those with substantial financial resources, the EB-5 investor visa offers a pathway to permanent residency through a minimum investment of $890,000 (in specific geographic areas) and the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. While this option provides a quicker route to a green card, the significant investment requirement is costly.

Tax Implications

Working remotely for a U.S. company, regardless of location, may make you a US tax resident. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines residency based on factors like physical presence, intent to remain and financial ties. Residency triggers the obligation to file US tax returns and pay income taxes on your worldwide income. It's crucial to consult with a tax professional to understand your specific situation and potential tax liabilities.

Additionally, for U.S. citizens working abroad, the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion allows them to exclude a portion of their earned income from U.S. taxation, providing some relief. However, this exclusion has limitations and eligibility requirements, and the IRS website offers detailed information and resources.

Financial Planning

Beyond visas and taxes, relocating to the U.S. requires careful financial planning. The cost of living varies significantly across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index reports that the average annual expenditure for an urban family of four in 2022 was $94,272, with significant variations depending on housing, transportation and other factors. Researching your desired location and factoring in living expenses is essential to ensure a smooth financial transition.

Opening a U.S. bank account is also crucial for receiving salary payments and managing your finances. Many remote workers abroad rely on international bank accounts but these may not be suitable for everyday transactions in the U.S. Researching banking options and opening an account before you arrive can simplify the process.

Meeting with a financial planner before relocating can help you feel more confident in your decision.

Additional Tips

Healthcare access is another crucial aspect to consider. While many U.S. employers offer health insurance plans, coverage may not extend to dependents residing abroad. Exploring individual or family health insurance options is necessary to secure comprehensive healthcare coverage upon arrival.

Obtaining a U.S. driver's license is essential if you plan to drive. Requirements vary by state, so research the steps involved in your chosen location. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) websites for each state provide detailed information and resources.

Finally, applying for a Social Security number is important for working legally and gaining access to future benefits in the U.S. The Social Security Administration (SSA) e provides detailed information on the application process.

Resources for a Successful Transition

Navigating the complexities of relocating to the U.S. can be overwhelming. Fortunately, several resources can help guide you through the process:

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): – This official government website provides comprehensive information on visa types, application procedures and immigration laws.

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): – The IRS website offers information and resources on tax filing requirements for U.S. residents abroad, including the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

  • Department of State: – The Department of State offers travel advisories and information on U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, which can assist with visa applications and other matters.

Relocating to the U.S. as a remote worker requires careful planning and consideration. By understanding visa options, tax implications and other crucial aspects, you can ensure a smoother transition and a successful new chapter in your life. Remember this is not an exhaustive list, and seeking professional advice from immigration attorneys, tax professionals and financial advisors is highly recommended throughout the process.

About MakeMyMove

Remote work has freed millions of Americans to live where they want, and many are making the move to places that better match their lifestyle. In turn, cities and towns across the country are offering incentives like cash, perks and programming to remote workers who move and work from their communities. At MakeMyMove, you can explore all the places, get personalized help to find the one that’s right for you, connect with locals, and access support to make your move a piece of cake.