The Currency Club

Thinking of relocating to the USA? Here's what you need to know to make that move to America

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January 2021

According to recent figures, more than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. every year. As the third largest country in the world, with numerous states, a wide variety of cities and suburbs within each of those cities, it can be very challenging to choose where to settle. The East Coast of the US by far has the highest population density. This was the first area of land inhabited when the British Empire discovered America. The western seaboard is also largely populated and then of course, there is everything in the middle!

One of the pulling factors of relocating stateside is that language certainly isn't a barrier. You don't need to study a new language to make new friends, just learn enough American slang to get by! But also the food portions are gigantic, the American culture is so varied and then there's the certain energy of a place.

This article provides you with the facts of moving to America so make sure you add these to your checklist:

1. Residency & Visas

In order to live permanently in America you require the correct visa and regardless of which visa you apply for this process takes time and in some cases, it can be as long as a year. Once you have decided on making a move you need to look into which visa is most applicable to you.



If you have any relatives living in the USA you can ask for their support when applying for this visa. However, although this could be one of the easiest options, family visas do take the longest time to be accepted so make sure you apply as soon as possible.


If you have already secured your employment before moving to America, then this is the standard visa option and your visa is most likely to be processed quickly.


This visa is for those that are moving to America for university studies. Students are limited to a maximum of 12 months in school under F-1 status and must show proof that payment has been made in advance, when they apply for the visa. Please note that these visas cannot be used for publically funded adult education programs such as foreign language classes.


This visa is the most commonly applied for and is for those that are relocating to USA and looking for work. The more qualifications and skills you have the better your chances of obtaining this visa but once again it does take time.

Do I need a visa to retire in the USA?

Currently there is no visa for retirement in America and there is no official process for doing this. In fact it is very difficult to move to the USA for the sole purpose of retirement. If you wished to do this you could apply for the green card lottery and/or own property in America.

2. Getting a Green Card

Visas will only allow you to work in America for a specific duration, after which you will either have to reapply for another visa or you will opt to apply for a green card. A green card, will give you permanent residency or as others call it a visa which never expires.

3. How to become a Citizen?

If you have definitely made up your mind to move to America then this is something you may have at the back of your mind and you must bear in mind that to get citizenship takes time. In principle there are 7 steps (see below) but please do further research on US Citizenship and Immigration Services website

Apply for permanent residency

Get your green card

Live in the US for a minimum of 5 years

Apply for naturalisation

Pass your English and cultural tests

Attend a Citizenship ceremony and take an Oath of Allegiance to the USA

Apply for your US Passport

4. Healthcare Insurance

Unlike the UK and other commonwealth countries, the USA has no publically funded healthcare service. In fact, funding your healthcare is a serious consideration when you are thinking about moving to America.

If you have your employment secured in advance of your move, your employer will normally cover your healthcare insurance as part of the terms of employment. However if this is not the case, be sure to make your healthcare insurance a priority.

5. Becoming an entrepreneur in the USA (E1/E2 Visa)

If you are looking to set up a company in America, this is another way to apply for a green card and you can do so under your company name instead of having to rely on an employer or an existing US citizen to support your green card application. If you are able to build a case that your business will add value to Americans, ie in the nation's interest it may increase your chances of a green card being granted some promptly.

6. Income tax

In the USA, there are 7 income tax brackets but the highest amount of tax is up to 40% of your total earnings. The majority of the population are on the lower tax brackets since health care comes out of overall earnings too.

7. Pensions

If you are moving out the America and you have an employer, the company will normally offer you pension benefits as part of your employment package and this would be considered a private pension which is called your 401K.

You may also receive a pension paid by the state, so there could be various components to your pension pot not forgetting the pension you may receive from the country your were previously residing in.

Pensions in the USA are non-tax-deductible. On top of this, the age to receive your pension is 67 years old in USA. You can receive your pension money earlier, however you would have to be 62 years old and willing to lose approximately 20/30% of your monthly pension payments as a penalty.

8. Applying for a social security number

A social security number is similar to the national insurance number in the UK.

If you are considering moving to USA, you will need to obtain a Social Security Number as soon as possible. You will need this to be able to work for an employer, open a bank etc.

9. Getting a Drivers License

First of all you need to get familiar with the differences of driving in America. The opposite side for many of us, that is the right-hand-side!

You will probably notice a few other differences too. For example, in some states, you can turn right while the lights are red.

When you first move to America and if you have a UK driving license, you will be able to rent a car. To do so you simply have to be over 21 years old but the UK driving license is only valid for 12 months.

Sadly, you will not be able to simply convert your existing license. Instead you will have to apply for a state driver's license. You will have to take a computer learning permit test and then take a road test in accordance with the state laws. You will need to pay a small fee, but after all this you will have your license and be able to drive anywhere in the US.

10. Voting

You can only vote in the US elections if you are a US citizen.

If you have moved to America from the UK, you can still vote in the UK elections. You will simply have to register as an overseas voter, and you can still register for up to 15 years after leaving the UK. Or, you can book a quick flight back to the UK and head to your local polling station.

11. Opening a bank account in America

In order to open up a bank account in the USA you will require a permanent address in America. Once you have that, simply walk into a branch with your proof of ID and proof of address, this should suffice.

12. Tipping

Keep in mind that wages are fairly low in the United States and this has resulted in a strong tipping culture. Normally the tip value is 20%. So if you and your friends go out and the meal comes to $100 you want to leave a $20 tip to the person serving you, so make sure you leave $120 on the table.

13. Taxes on goods

If you are out shopping at Bloomingdales and the price on the clothing says $50 it doesn't just mean you pay $50 at check out. It means $50 + federal tax + state tax. The state taxes vary across the country and for this reason shops are unable to print the all inclusive price on the item tags.

14. GBP to USD Exchange Rate when sending money to America

Since you are moving to America and perhaps have your savings sitting in a different currency, you are likely to require an international bank transfer from one account into your current USD account in America for spending purposes.

So, if we take an example of having a savings account in the UK and you move to America. You will probably require a transfer of GBP into your USD account and for this you want to make sure you understand the exchange rates for this pair of currencies.

The exchange rate is the price at which you are exchanging your GBP to USD and you want to do that when it is most favourable. If you can time it correctly you are doing your best to ensure that you get the most amount of dollars for every pound you convert.

Ideally you want the pound to strengthen against the US dollar and conduct your bank transfer then so keep an eye on the interbank exchange rate graphs on GBP/USD. You can find these graphs by searching on Google. You also want to keep an eye on the news, any positive economic or political news about the UK will result in the pound strengthening and moving in your favour.

Lastly you need to decide who you will complete your international transfer through when sending money to America. It is common knowledge that banks will offer you the least favourable exchange rate when it comes to sending money abroad. They can charge high fees which can be hidden in the exchange rate and perhaps even an additional fee up on top so it is best to stay away.

Ideally the rate you want to transact at is the rate you see on Google. This is the interbank exchane rate or real exchange rate. The best way to obtain this rate is to use currency specialists that are transparent and have no hidden fees.

The Currency Club conducts all foreign exchange transactions at the real exchange rate for all customers. An upfront fee is then deducted off the transfer. The more money you send abroad the better the lower the fee will be but you will always get the real exchange rate which makes everything a lot simpler!

Using The Currency Club as a trusted partner when sending money overseas

The Currency Club has removed the complication of making an international transfer abroad. When you place your international payment online you get the real exchange rate every time, regardless of the currency and whichever country you are sending the funds to.

There are also no hidden fees and the more you transfer, the lower your fee. You are quoted the real exchange rate plus the fee on top as a percentage and if you hover over the fee value, the system automatically converts the fees into pounds and pence.

The platform accepts payments via debit card, credit card or bank transfer, with all progress updates on your international payment being sent via email directly to your inbox.

The Currency Club has over 350,000 members and sign up takes less than five minutes. With an "Excellent" Trustpilot score of 4.9 out of 5 what are you waiting for? Save money when sending money abroad at The Currency Club.

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We have made every effort to ensure that the information published here is correct and accurate, however you should check and confirm the latest exchange rates with The Currency Club directly prior to making a decision. The information published is general and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. Full disclaimer available

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