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Deciding to leave home and move to a new country can be exciting, scary, overwhelming, and stressful. You may not be familiar with the language and customs and the paperwork may likely be a nightmare. Luckily, there are lots of resources that can help new immigrants to the U.S. make the transition in the easiest and smoothest way possible.
Whether you’re moving as an adult, studying abroad in school, or something else entirely, being aware of the resources available to you is key to successfully and seamlessly integrating into your new life.
Meet with an Immigration Official
Immigration can be a time-consuming process filled with long lines, thick packets of paperwork, and phone calls that keep getting rerouted to different numbers. It’s best to start the process early and leave yourself plenty of time for things to go awry. It’s also best to find an immigration expert or official that you trust to be by your side throughout the process in case any issues occur.
Start Early and Learn About Your Options
Do your research and find out as much about how the process of immigration works as you can. The more you know, the better because you’ll be aware of what to expect and be familiar with your rights. Consider meeting with an immigration expert in person to get some extra help where you need it. There are also plenty of online resources for immigrants that you can delve into well before you set foot on U.S. soil.
There are resources you can use once you arrive at a U.S. airport to help you learn about the path to citizenship and to help you if you find yourself in legal trouble. Spend some time researching these things ahead of time so that if and when the time comes, you know who to call.
Having a list of important phone numbers or offices on hand can also really help during the paperwork process. Sometimes immigration paperwork can be confusing and having someone on your side to help decipher it can be a huge help.
Take Advantage of Study Abroad Offices
The same goes for studying abroad, which can be a great way to experience living in a new country. However, having errors in your paperwork can delay your studies and put a wrench in your whole semester. Seek out a professional who is familiar with the forms and who can help you fill them out thoroughly and accurately, either through a study abroad office or an immigration office.
Be Aware of Potential Obstacles
It is notoriously difficult to become a U.S. citizen if you were not born there. However, it is not impossible. Being aware of potential obstacles on your path immigration and perhaps eventually citizenship is essential.
Have an Interpreter Review Your Paperwork
Once you know the common mistakes new immigrants make, like submitting untranslated paperwork, having errors in paperwork, not signing forms, and paying in a foreign currency, you can do your best to avoid them.
It can be really helpful to have an interpreter help you fill out essential paperwork if you’re not comfortable and fluent in English. The last thing you want is for your application to be thrown out because there was a simple error that could have been avoided. There are so many hidden obstacles on the path to U.S. citizenship that completing every step of the process with the utmost care is vital.
If you don’t understand a question or aren’t sure when a certain document has to be submitted, call an immigration office, immigration lawyer, or community professional who has done this a million times before and have them help you out.
Get Help Every Step of the Way
Not being afraid to ask for help is essential to having a smooth immigration process. This goes for once you arrive in the U.S., too — not just the process of getting here. Things like getting a job and dealing with culture shock can take their toll, so reaching out to professionals for support is always a great idea.
Use Career Services
Once you arrive in the U.S. and are looking for a job, the first thing you’ll need to do is have a great resume. You can use resume templates to help give your document a professional touch and then visit a career center where you can get feedback and advice on your resume. You can often even get interview coaching and suggestions to help you find a great job.
Make Counseling a Priority
The other major support system you can tap into is counseling services. Some places in the U.S. can be challenging for immigrants and you often see headlines in the news discussing the divisive issues of immigration reform, inequality, discrimination, racism, and xenophobia.
New immigrants can get help dealing with these issues along with culture change by visiting a counselor. It can be incredibly important for your health and wellbeing.
“Research studies released in 2008 and in 2011 showed that perceived discrimination is a proven factor in a number of unhealthy behaviors including alcohol use, cigarette smoking, improper nutrition and substance use,” say mental health experts at Bradley University. “It is also a key factor in individuals’ refusal or reluctance to seek medical treatment.”
Times of extreme change, like when you move to a new country, can lead to high emotions on both ends of the spectrum. Seeking support through counseling can help you process all the emotions that come with change and experience them in a healthy way.
Immigration can be a tricky process, but it’s one that’s well worth it in the end. If you start the process early, research potential roadblocks, and get comfortable asking for help when you need it (and perhaps even when you think you don’t), the process will be much easier in the long run.