Things Australians Need To Know About Moving to America

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If you want to move to American from Australia then how's how to make the move and a checklist of things to keep in mind.

You’re all set to make a big move to America from Australia. To leave Australia and become an Aussie ex-pat in USA is very exciting.

You have converted your currency and got a helpful phrasebook, and you’re ready to have a red hot go at being an Aussie abroad.

The problem is you may not be ready for the surprises in store or how to move to Australia from America.

Any big move to another nation always involves so much planning and thinking. It’s hard to prepare for everything. That’s why it’s essential you know about things you need to know about moving to America.

Who can move to United States?

In order to live permanently and work in United States, you will need a Green Card.

You can obtain a Green Card via the following eligibility categories:

  1. Family-sponsored green card
  2. Employment-based green card
  3. Green card lottery
  4. Political asylum

To apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed above. Once you find the category that may fit your situation, learn how to apply, and whether your family members can also apply with you.

The easiest way to get Green Card is if you get married to someone living in the USA, are a child under the age of 21 or parent of a citizen of a Green Card Holder.

H1B1 Visa

The H1B Visa is the primary US work visa/permit made available to people from all over the world who want the opportunity to move to the USA to live and work.

The H1B is the most popular and sought after US work visa and US Immigration requires ‘every' foreign national to obtain a visa in order to legally work in America.

The duration of an H1B visa is typically valid for up to six (6) years. H1B's are normally initially issued for 3 years and then can be renewed for a further 3 years.

Your spouse (husband/wife) and children (under 21) can live in the USA with you. However an H1B is an individual work visa, and if your spouse or children want to work in the USA they would require their own work visas.

One of the main advantages of the H1B visa is that it is a ‘dual intent' visa which means that you can apply for a Green Card (become a Legal Permanent Resident).

Only U.S. Companies can file and apply for H1B visas, for Foreign Nationals that they want to employ. This means that you cannot file and apply for an H1B.

There is a fixed quota/allocation of H1B visa that the Government makes available each year. The current quota is set at a Total of 85,000 H1B's can be issued per year.

What's the process to obtain an H1B Visa? Here's a quick overview:

Step 1 – H1B VISA JOB OFFER. If you want to obtain an H1B you Must find a suitable and qualifying H1B Sponsorship Job with a US Company that will sponsor you for employment, and file for an H1B visa for you. 

Step 2 – H1B DOCUMENT PREPARATION. The US Company prepares the H1B visa application documents and forms, and then files them with the US Immigration Bureau.

Step 3 – H1B APPLICATION FILING. The US Immigration Bureau evaluates and processes the application to ensure it meets all the H1B visa requirements and regulations to qualify for eligibility and issuance. *The Foreign national, US Company, Job, and Salary must All meet the H1B qualification requirements.  

Step 4 – H1B VISA ISSUANCE. If the H1B application is filed correctly and approved by the US Immigration Bureau it will then be issued for the Foreign national to be employed by and work for the US company that filed the H1B visa application for them. 

* individuals can NOT sponsor or apply for their own H1B visa. Only US Employers can.

To qualify for the H1B Visa Program, you must work in what's termed as a ‘skilled specialty occupation': IT, Computing, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Marketing, Advertising, PR, Sales, Recruiting, Engineering (all types), Teaching, Healthcare/Medical, Legal, Lawyers, Networking, Telecoms, Business, Management, and Hospitality.

E3 Work Visa

The E-3 classification applies only to nationals of Australia. You must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge  and the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

To qualify for an E-3 visa, you must demonstrate, among other things, that you:

  • Are a national of Australia
  • Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States
  • Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials
  • Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation

You can stay for 2 years and up to 2 years per extension. To apply and get the required forms you can click here.

Cost of Living

In Australia we don’t have a formal tipping culture – if your bartender is a top bloke or top shelia you may say ‘keep the change’ at the end of your order, but that’s up to you.

In the U.S tipping is not optional. It is expected, and a huge no-no if you fail to do it given the hospitality industry pays workers a lower wage on the expectation staff will be tipped for good service. Many Aussies get caught out innocently here, and forget to budget for tips when out on the town. This just one of many examples where hidden costs can really add up for new expats.

Just as it's smart to grab a phrasebook before your flight, so too it is always wise to convert a good amount of cash into local currency (though be sure to check how much you are permitted to bring into your new country). That way you can hit the ground running when you arrive, and keep costs minimal. There are many providers out there you can use in Australia, but CBA exchange rates are always a good starting point that many expats make use of.

Sending Money

Finding good places to do your transactions is another common challenge. A major city like Milan, Glasgow, or Berlin should have a ton of places you can wire money.

But if you’ve landed a job in a quiet English village, you may find the financial frustrations you encounter leaves you convinced the village is too small! Finding a place you can consistently transact (especially if traveling regularly) is a common financial difficulty for many Aussies.

Japan may market itself as a hyper-modern nation but anyone who tries to use an ATM outside business hours will know there’s some exceptions to this. Japan is a fantastic country‚ but also one that continues to rely a ton on the use of coins and banknotes over card. This means the fun of Japan’s famous vending machine culture – with 5.2 million machines in the nation! – is offset by a common need to rely on cash after 5pm.

Banking Hours

Australia’s $1.69 trillion economy is always in motion. A trip to any shopping centre on the weekend shows this. Yet the majority of business is still done Monday to Friday. The Easybeats knew what Australia was keen on when they wrote Friday on my mind.

Not every nation around the world works on a Monday to Friday schedule. This can quickly pose a difficulty for Aussie expats abroad. You may have a habit of doing your in-person banking on Friday at lunchtime. This won’t work at all in Saudi Arabia, given their businessweek runs from Sunday to Thursday. This is just one of many variations to the working week that exists globally.

When you bank in Australia with family and friends life's pretty predictable. You wire your sister some cash or pay back your best mate for dinner, and it should be with them in 24 hours. If they are with the same bank, it may come through instantly. All bets are off with foreign transactions.

The common guideline of 3-7 business days for foreign transactions is usually reliable – but ultimately just a guideline. All sort of things can cause delays in the transaction process. If you have sent a transaction before a weekend – or a long weekend with a public holiday? – it could feasibly be a calendar week or more before money gets from you to Australia, or vice versa.


Everyone who thinks of life overseas looks forward to the new opportunities it brings. If you move to the U.S, road-tripping from New York to Los Angeles is possible. Setting up life in France will mean you’re just a short plane trip away from breakfast in Barcelona, Lunch in Dublin, or Dinner in Rome. These possibilities are worth celebrating.

But sometimes you’ll be longing for a humble slice of Vegemite toast, or a pack of Tim Tams. Depending on where you live – and even in the day and age of Amazon and eCommerce – getting local goods overseas can be very difficult. When you do find them they can be costly. This is worth keeping in mind when visiting home or having family visit you – pack the Vegemite!

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Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Every day we put together original stories that help you conquer each day a little better. Consider us your secret tool to get your life done right. Brian Meiggs is the founder of Whippio anD and has a love for digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and personal finance. His mission to give you the resources and inspiration you didn’t realize you needed to own your life and love it

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