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OnFinals

Two Months On

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So much has happened, and so much had to be done to get this far, but never once did we doubt whether we are doing the right thing.

 

First, our basic timeline:

 

Entered the draw: October 2010

 

Checked draw: May 2011 (not successful)

 

Week on holiday, and wife gets email to CHECK DV LOTTERY ENTRY STATUS : July 2012.

 

Got paper work in to initiate processing: Around 18 July (via FedEx)

 

Confirmed Interview: Second week in August

 

Interview: Somewhere first week in Sep- we got approved and visa stamp in passport

 

Enter US to activate Green Card: Last week in Sept

 

Fly over to USA for final move: mid Jan '13

 

Got a job and started: March '13

 

 

 

So, a couple of pointers, or at least confirming the advice in this forum.

 

Social security numbers: Get this sorted AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It should be automatic, but make sure that it is in the system and in process. This becomes critical in the first weeks over here. Check during the initial scouting/activation trip, but you must give the system at least seven working days time for you to be spotted on the Dept. Homeland's systems. You do this by going to their office, grab a ticket to fall in the queue and then see one of the state dept. workers and check your social sec numbers are in the process. At this stage also check that your names (first, second and surname) are correct, we noted a problem with my wife's where her first and middle was combined first. The officer told us this could have caused problems down the road, but we had it sorted. But anyway, THIS SHOULD BE A HIGH PRIORITY right from the start as soc sec gets used for everything: bank accounts, credit cards, work applications, phone contracts etc. It is also your first step to starting a credit history, which brings us to my second pointer section...

 

Bank accounts: Aim to get bank accounts as soon as possible after setting foot here permanently. We had our Soc Sec #s by Jan '13 when we came over permanently, so we got bank accounts sorted to start the credit agency reporting going. This was not so hard as I though it would be. We were living with friends of ours in Florida to whom we had all our immigration docs sent. And so therefore we had US goverment letters etc. going to the address, and we used this as evidence of address to get the account. For the credit cards we got the secured credit cards (where you put a deposit down which you can use as credit,) so we have a couple of k's worth of deposits backing our cards. But it seems to work as after two months here my wife and I both have medium rated credit records. I read somewhere in here to keep your card's outstanding balance to no more than a third of your maximum allowed credit by the end of a billing cycle. We have been able to get a car on lease, and we have been able to get a lease approved for an apartment. So, must be working.

 

Money: For a small family I reackon you need about $2000 per month, excluding rent. You can pick up a set of ok wheels for about $7000. Be tough with car salesmen, these guys are good. Add to that their US swagger and friendliness and you can easily fall for a bit of a con. Luckily our friend who has been living in the US for 15 years, was a car salesmen in SA, so his advice spare me two terrible deals. The $2000 goes for food, phones (at least one for mom and dad each), petrol, and other small things. This should work comfortable.

 

 

The advice in this forum really helped us to feel prepared. Add to that my boer wife and some help from our friends in the US, we have found the experience a whirl wind, but worth it.

 

 

A word of advice though - I believe a very important thing to making it work here is to INTEGRATE. This is the USA, a counrty which takes up half a continent and four time zones.

 

Any specific questions, private message me.

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Glad to hear that you have settled in well. :)

You are very fortunate to get a job in such a short time.

Where do you live and is your wife working too?

Bev

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A few other things to bear in mind.

 

Check US holidays, we arrived on a Saturday and Monday was Presidents Day so all State organisations were off for the day which delayed getting a drivers license. In NC you have to have a NC license to purchase a car.

 

As far as leasing a place, we had no credit history and were asked to put down one months rent as a deposit. We pay $1300 for a two bedroom apartment, which is way better than a one bedroom budget hotel room, personally I would skip the hotel and go straight into a rental apartment (we have a 3 month lease, but longer leases are cheaper).

 

You can open a bank account prior to getting your SSN, we used our visa in our passport and had no problem.

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1364732219[/url]' post='62130']

A few other things to bear in mind.

 

Check US holidays, we arrived on a Saturday and Monday was Presidents Day so all State organisations were off for the day which delayed getting a drivers license. In NC you have to have a NC license to purchase a car.

 

As far as leasing a place, we had no credit history and were asked to put down one months rent as a deposit. We pay $1300 for a two bedroom apartment, which is way better than a one bedroom budget hotel room, personally I would skip the hotel and go straight into a rental apartment (we have a 3 month lease, but longer leases are cheaper).

 

You can open a bank account prior to getting your SSN, we used our visa in our passport and had no problem.

 

Just a quick question gmdbn - did you have to do a on the road driving test or was it just a written test - basically was it easy to get? Thanks

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Just a quick question gmdbn - did you have to do a on the road driving test or was it just a written test - basically was it easy to get? Thanks

 

It all happens on the same day, you do the eye test, then onto a computer which asks you 25 questions (you have to get 20 correct) and then onto the road. The road test was in the back streets only thing I had to bear in mind was a 25mph limit at one point, had to do an emergency stop, 3 point turn and then reverse (or back up as they say - you must look over your shoulder when backing up, I was corrected because I used my rear view mirrors initially). We then went back to the test centre and paid $32, got my photo taken and a temporary license was given, the card arrived 8 days later. Nothing to worry about (except staying on the right hand side, if you have just arrived), it is easy.

 

The best advice I was given was to put the passenger next to the pavement, you soon get used to it. The drivers manual is available online, just check NCDOT test centres. You have to have insurance in place otherwise you don't get past the front desk. As previously stated non owners insurance is about $150/month, as opposed to car rental at about $50 plus/day.

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Thanks for a really informative post.

 

Don't forget to do your IRS tax returns for 2012 - seeing you landed and became PR in 2012 - if you haven't done so already - deadline is just 2 weeks away.

 

For others who landed and validated your cards in 2012, but are still back in SA, don't forget you have to do a tax return too - but you do get an automatic extension if you are resident overseas - i.e. to 15 June 2013.

 

Regardless of what you earned, and where - and even if you have not yet earned anything in the USA, you have to submit a return.

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1364838398[/url]' post='62134']

Thanks for a really informative post.

 

Don't forget to do your IRS tax returns for 2012 - seeing you landed and became PR in 2012 - if you haven't done so already - deadline is just 2 weeks away.

 

For others who landed and validated your cards in 2012, but are still back in SA, don't forget you have to do a tax return too - but you do get an automatic extension if you are resident overseas - i.e. to 15 June 2013.

 

Regardless of what you earned, and where - and even if you have not yet earned anything in the USA, you have to submit a return.

 

Hi malamute

My wife and I landed in the USA on the 25 February 2012 and I just need to find out if we need to submit tax returns? We have not earned yet in the country and still traveling to figure out where we will end up? If we need to submit how do we go about it?

Also do you have ideas on how to get credit?

RegardsMathew

Edited by mleg

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Hi malamute

My wife and I landed in the USA on the 25 February 2012 and I just need to find out if we need to submit tax returns? We have not earned yet in the country and still traveling to figure out where we will end up? If we need to submit how do we go about it?

Also do you have ideas on how to get credit?

RegardsMathew

 

Hi Mathew

Yes, you absolutely do need to submit returns. The USA is somewhat unique (except for 2 or 3 other countries) that tax you on your worldwide income as a Green Card holder or a citizen - regardless of where you live or where you earn this money. Some countries only do this if you are actually resident in that country for a certain number of days in the year, e.g. 180. The USA is DIFFERENT - you needn't even set foot in the country the whole year - and you will still be liable for at least filing a return - and very possibly for actually paying some tax in the USA too.

 

So, if for example you have a Green Card (as you do now), and you don't even live in the USA, don't earn a single cent here, you still MUST complete the IRS tax returns, and may owe tax on the money you earned outside of the USA. But even if you don't actually end up paying in anything, you MUST submit a tax return, and declare your income - even if it is money earned in SA.

 

The tax deadline was yesterday if you are already resident in the USA. If you are currently living in SA or elsewhere, you get an automatic extension to file until 15 June 2013 (for the 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012 tax year).

 

1. Suggest you search the MONEY section of the forum where much of this has been discussed

2. You will have to submit a non-resident tax return for the period 01 Jan 2012 to 24 Feb 2012 (yes, before you even landed) and submit a resident return for the period 25 Feb 2012 to 31 Dec 2012). This is known as a dual return - there is a bunch of info on the IRS site on this. These returns are known as a 1040 and a 1040NR as should be cross-referenced.

3. You may be able to claim a foreign income exclusion, or a foreign tax credit (or both) for the money earned outside of SA, and you may need to prove the tax you already paid in SA on that money (as SA has a tax treaty with the USA) -referencing the various treaties etc. These are additional forms.

4. You may or may not also have to complete a State tax return, depending on your state of residency.

 

What happens if you don't submit a return:

1. You are breaking the law, and down the line could be accused of tax avoidance - even if this is out of ignorance.

2. Failure to submit a return could be deemed evidence you have abandoned your US residency, and therefore forfeiture of your Green Card

3. When you naturalize, your tax return 'history' is part of the documentation studied.

 

Don't be too alarmed - but I suggest you get cracking on this asap - it is complex and takes time to figure out - especially as you won't have many of the documents referred to - e.g. W2. You may want to go and see a tax expert and have them guide you through it - find one that knows about immigrants etc as many of the standard advisors don't. Ask them about their experience with non-resident and resident tax returns, new immigrants, foreign income exclusions etc.

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Hi

 

We earned $15 interest on savings and paid $109 for H&R Block to submit a return.

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Hi malamute

My wife and I landed in the USA on the 25 February 2012 and I just need to find out if we need to submit tax returns? We have not earned yet in the country and still traveling to figure out where we will end up? If we need to submit how do we go about it?

Also do you have ideas on how to get credit?

RegardsMathew

 

Hi mleg

You have posted elsewhere that you landed in Feb 2013 , I am figuring that you don't mean 2012 as you posted above. If that is the case and you only became a LPR in 2013, you don't need to file any returns until next year.

 

Cheers Adrian

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Hi mleg

You have posted elsewhere that you landed in Feb 2013 , I am figuring that you don't mean 2012 as you posted above. If that is the case and you only became a LPR in 2013, you don't need to file any returns until next year.

 

Cheers Adrian

 

Thanks so much for the response I did mean 2013...

So just jobs now....

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Also do you have ideas on how to get credit?

There are many threads on this topic but, in my opinion, an easy way to get started is to get a secured credit card (I used Bank of America) and a store card (I got one from Macy's). Use those and get a bit of credit history started - a quick, cheap and easy way, and it's something you can do right away. Good luck. Edited by Superkruz

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So to understand the tax side of things I have a question:

we activated our green cards in October 2014 and will move to USA from SA in October 2015. My business (cc owned) will continue to run in SA -are you saying I will pay tax on both incomes in both countries?

Thank you

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Your South African based business will be taxed in SA. It is not a USA based business, so the business itself will not pay tax to the IRS but it gets much more complicated if you earn anything from the business (regardless of whether the income accrues in SA and stays there or not).

 

You need to declare any and all income you have earned from your business on your IRS return (starting with the 2014 return), and of course continue to submit the SARS return. That doesn't mean you pay tax in both countries, but you do have to account for it in both, and you may pay additional tax in the USA too.

 

You will need to research (and probably get some professional help) on both the Foreign Tax Credit and the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (this last is only if you are a USA resident - which you are - and you are currently not resident in the USA - so will likely only apply to 2014, and not 2015 - as by then you say you will be resident)

 

Depending on the type of income it is, you may be able to either exclude foreign earned income on which you have already paid tax in a tax treaty country (like SA), and/or, take the tax you alread paid to SARS as a deduction on your IRS return.

 

So much also depends on whether your income is from dividents, a salary paid etc. Best read up on the IRS site and get professional help as needed.

 

(all this is because the USA is one of the only countries that taxes you based on citizenship or residency status, and not on your actual residency).

 

I see the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is refusing to pay capital gains tax to the USA on a house he sold in the UK. He was born in the USA although left at age 5. Nevertheless, he is still subject to IRS tax, including on the sale of his property in the UK, where he has lived for decades.

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