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Oh, ok.... we just arrived at our local school and did the registration once we had proof of address. Didn't do anything in advance!  Our schools do require to see 2 different physical proofs of address with photo ID to prove it's really yours  before you can register though ... not sure all districts are as strict!

Re mobile provider - different ones have better coverage in different areas so best to get a recommendation from someone local to where you'll be. 

Edited by SJ272
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Moving2018, your mobile provider question reminded of something. One of the most difficult "situations" to deal with, is the fact that you will have no credit record - no credibility - when you arrive in the US. It does not matter how good a financial record you enjoyed in SA, here you start from scratch again.

A mobile contract will help you to build your credit record. A credit card will do the same, provided that you keep the balance at zero, meaning, use it and clear the balance as soon as possible. But, and this is a big but, you will find the banks to be very reluctant to issue credit cards to people with no credit records, and if they do, the credit amount will be very small.

But, it will be a start.

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We were told the cellphone contract does not help build a credit record as such, because it's not credit, BUT if you fall behind on payments it's reported and will adversely affect a credit record. 

 

Look for a bank /credit card company that will give you a secured credit card to start with. Capital One seems to be the best one for new immigrants on this front. Just a year of good payments on a credit card gets you a decent credit score pretty quickly. What we also did as well was go joint credit on stuff (for example adding me to my husband's car lease) so that we had more accounts which also helps build it up. I think the site britsimonsays has some recommendations on how to build a credit score for new immigrants. 

It is one of the strange things, when you go from SA where no credit is a good credit record, to the US where no credit almost means you don't exist!!!!

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Bank of America offers a secured credit card- read about it here. I used this to get my credit score going northwards. I also opened an account with Macy's without any hassle which also counted towards my credit score.

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4 hours ago, SJ272 said:

"We were told the cellphone contract does not help build a credit record as such, because it's not credit..."

...which means that we've been lied to by a staff member of Verizon all those years ago! :angry2:

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Wells Fargo does secured credit cards too.

Our security (deposit) was return after exactly one year.

Funny enough, my credit limit was raised 60% after that year, and my husbands' stayed the same

We still have 'prepaid' Mobile contracts or month to month. It's deducted monthly from our Credit Cards.

We are leasing cars now, but initially bought a new car through International Auto and a "pre-loved" car from our local Toyota dealer.

Our internet/ cable service is also month to month- no long term commitments- with optimum.

 

 

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I think my mind is playing tricks now.  Not sure if I have all in place.  USCIS fee paid, is there anything else I need to do before arrival.  Ai toggie.

 

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Moving2018, Most important would be not to open your packet that you received from the consulate, and take that in your hand luggage on the plane.

You Could ask your current insurer (house and car) for a reference  on how many years you've been insured. if you have a no claim bonus etc. Some US insurers will use it others don't. It hugely differ from state to state

Here is a list that we worked from (this is copied from another forum- not my personal list)

Shutting up Shop process
58. Change postal address of all accounts to a reliable friend or family member two months before you go (so you can see which companies did not make the change, and you have enough time to sort it out before you go - things like telephone account, DSTV & MNET, City Council, Security company, insurance - both short term and life, Bank (all accounts - some bank’s you have to change it for each account!), Medical Aids, Shopping Cards, Memberships, Doctors, Specialists etc.)
59. Set up a free email account like gmail and start using it two months before you leave. Then you can see who is still emailing your old email address. Remember when you cancel your ISP you will lose your email address.
60. Start obeying the South African speed limit and road rules. Takes time to get used to watching that speedometer and the cars behind you edging you to go faster. Australia works on the Drivers license point system. Too many speeding fines will see you losing your driver’s license.
61. Get a reference letter and client code from your bank.
62. Sign a fax indemnity with your bank. This allows you to give faxed instructions for transactions etc.
63. If you don’t already have internet banking, get it set up and test it.
64. Get a reference letter from your short term insurance detailing your no claim bonus etc.
65. Cancel Telephone account (Do this in writing and keep proof - applies to all cancellations)
66. Cancel cell phone contracts (all three VC, MTN, Cell C contracts require 3 months notice).
67. Cancel ISP
68. Cancel DSTV / MNET
69. Cancel Security Company
70. Cancel SABC license
71. Make the decision whether or not you will continue paying your policies (Life Insurance, Annuities etc) from Australia. Speak to your broker about the effects of early cancellation.
72. Cancel your medical aid (read the fine print - they may require 3 months notice)
73. Close your store accounts.
74. Cancel all membership debit orders etc that won’t continue.
75. Get all you kid’s immunizations up to date and have it recorded on their immunization cards. (To attend day care and school in Australia it has to be up to date).
76. Get a letter of membership and involvement from your church. Advise them that you are leaving.
77. Get a reference letter for your family if you were involved in volunteer work. Volunteering is big in Australia and if you were involved in volunteering, it goes a long way - also, when you want to get involved again in Australia, you will need references.
78. Back-up everything on your computer (photos, documents, inbox, sent items etc) and take the CD’s or removable hard drive with you on the plane.
79. Make certified copies of ALL important documents (passports, visas, ID books, birth certificates etc) and leave it with a reliable friend or family member. Even better yet, have it scanned and leave a copy of the disk - take the other one on the plane with you.
80. Update your will and leave a copy with a reliable friend/family member.
81. Give a reliable person power of attorney to attend to your business on your behalf. Make sure they have details of all your bank accounts, policy numbers, contact persons etc. As well as copies of all important documents. The banks require a special POA and do not accept a general one.
82. Get transfer cards from your kids’ schools and their latest report cards or a progress report.
83. Get reference letters from your kid’s activities e.g. ballet report, etc - this will assist in placing them in the right group when they take it up here. If your child performed in anything, get proof. You WILL need it!
84. Take the whole family for a medical check-up, have their eyes tested, go to the dentist, get that filing etc. Dental and optometry is very expensive.
85. Get the contents of your medical files from all your doctors and specialists. Saves you from going through the whole process again. Aus doctors don’t take your word for it! If you have a special condition, let the doctor write a letter. If you have contacts or glasses, get your script.
86. Get scripts for all medication your family is currently using - especially chronic. You can bring 3 months prescription medication if you have a written script. Take it on the plane with you in case your container is delayed etc. (Also bring some general medication that your family use regularly if it is anything stronger than panado or if it is something specific such as anetheine cream, myprodol, etc).
87. You do not need an international drivers license but make sure that RSA drivers is not about to expire. You will require a current RSA license is convert.
88. Leave your flight details, first accommodation details etc with a family member/friend.
89. Also leave the details of your next of kin with this person.
90. Write this persons contact details in the back of your passport.
91. Service your washing machine and dryer if they haven’t had one in the last 12 months.
92. Pay your UIF and de-register. Give your employees their UIF documents as well as a letter that they no longer work for you. (UIF does not only accept the UIF document - they also require a letter that they no longer work for you). Get your domestic worker to sign that they have received their severance package. Keep proof of all of this. Give your employees reference letters and assist them in finding work elsewhere. (Advertise with you school, church, neighbours etc that they will be available from a specific date etc). Pay them their last salary, notice pay, leave and pro rata bonuses. Keep proof.
93. Go to the AA travel shop and buy some SA to USA plug adapters. Pop them in your hand luggage! Then buy some mulitplugs. The kind with 4 or 5 plugs on a cord. Then when you get there replace the main plug with your USA plug - you can then use your old SA plugs in the multiplug.
94. If you haven’t yet sold your house, but are planning to do so, get an electricity certificate before you leave. Give it to your agent or the person who will be handling the sale of your property. Keep a copy.
95. Inform your tax consultant that you are leaving. He will still have to complete a tax return for you for the current tax year. Then he may need to deregister you as a tax payer at some point and arrange a tax clearance certificate. In which case you might need to sign papers before you leave.
96. Help the older members of family set up Skype before you leave. Buy them a microphone for their computer as a gift. Install it for them.
97. Take photographs of everyone and everything, your friends, family, the neighbours, your pets, the kids friends (give your digital camera to your kids to take to school for a day). Take photographs of your house, neighbourhood, church, school, street.... This is all you will have of your life in South Africa. It may not seem important now, but when your kids, or grandchildren one day, want to know what life was like, you’ll have more than enough visual memories to share.
98. Have a farewell party at least 3 weeks before you leave. Less tears & emotion than having the goodbyes at the airport!!
99. Sell your cars.
100. Arrange your transport to the airport.

 

ON ARRIVAL: (this is from personal experience)

Some Pediatricians (seems that kids go to them up to age 18) may ask for medical history others are happy to just have all the immunization details (still bring your SA Immunization card together with the VISA Medical paper). - if you are with a medical insurer by then, make sure if you have to use network dr's or anyone. (Our network program will also state if a dr takes in new patients or not, which dr's charge average and above average costs)

In our state (Connecticut)- every child needs to have a Health assessment done before they can attend school. This need to be done by a US Medical professional on US soil. (Don't bother getting it done in SA)

Here's a link to PA's school health requirements. (if I remember correctly you mentioned you will be settling there, right?)

http://www.health.pa.gov/My Health/School Health/Pages/default.aspx#.WX9AbYTyupo

Each school district have their own extra set of ''rules'' too. Just make sure that you know exactly what's needed to eliminate running back and forth to the dr. ( example: if your child will need a sport release form on top of the Health assessment, make sure to have these completed by the dr during the same visit, otherwise you will be charged again- even if you phone in later to get it filled out and faxed/ emailed)

Drivers license: though you can drive up to a year with your SA drivers, it is a good idea to get your International license from a AA shop. Its only valid for 6 months. (if PA's requirements are at all like CT's- you can't convert your SA license to a US one, you have to do a learners permit, 8hrs of Adult Drive ED videos and your road test again- 8 months in, and we are still on our Adult Learners Drivers as we did not yet come around to sit for the 8 hours videos[ 2 x 4hrs only after 18h00 during weekdays or give up your Saturday- not an issue, but more logistical issue when you have kids ] You can apply for a NON Drivers ID card from your local DMV as soon as you arrive and has establish residency- this will help a lot and means that you don't need to walk around with your green card or passport. Check out their website to make sure what documentation requirements they might have. http://www.dmv.org/pa-pennsylvania/apply-license.php

Please feel free to ask any questions, I've been through it all twice- this does not make me an expert, but we did make costly mistakes that could be avoided.

Good luck, this is not just an adventure, its a life changing journey- try to enjoy it. 6months down the line, you will be relieved that you did take the plunge, and any obstacles you might encounter along the way will be worth it

 

 

 

 

 

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Another note: 

Apostille of Documents: An apostille is a certification provided under the Hague Convention of 1961 for authenticatingdocuments for use in foreign countries

Legalising documents means that official (public) documents executed within the Republic of South Africa for use outside the Republic of South Africa are affixed, sealed and signed either with an Apostille Certificate (where countries are party to The Hague Convention) or with a Certificate of Authentication 

I still don't know if this was totally unnecessary but we got all our original unabridged birth/ marriage certificates "apostilled" at the  Department of International Relations and Cooperation in Pretoria  http://www.dirco.gov.za/consular/legalisation.htm

this is a FREE service, you walk in (no appointments needed), and if the documents submitted before 12, you can wait for it.

This might be an over kill, or it might come in handy one day. 

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Note regarding driver's licence.  It isn't necessarily true that you can drive for up to a year on your SA license.  International permit is pretty meaningless actually, if your SA license is in English. Each state has different rules - in most cases you have to get a driver's license for the state you are resident within a certain number of days or months of becoming a resident of that state.  Just because your SA license, or your license from a different state is valid, doesn't mean you can wait until that license expires, or up to a year.

I see for PA you have 60 days from the date of becoming a resident, to get a PA license, if you intend driving in that state:

Quote

You have 60 days to get a Pennsylvania driver's license once you become a resident.  

Also note that you won't be able to register a car in PA without getting a driver's license or state ID card - and you are going to want to purchase a car pretty early on.  
 

 

Quote

 

Before you register your vehicle, you must get:

  • A PA driver's license or ID card, UNLESS you have:
    • A U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card.
      OR
    • A U.S. Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card.

 

    •  

Yes, no state will permit you to 'convert' your SA license - you start from scratch. My experience was:

1.  I had to get a GA license almost immediately, because I purchased a car, and in GA, like in PA, you cannot register a vehicle in GA without also a GA driver's license.

2.  In CA, I had to convert the GA licence to a CA license within 10 days

3.  In CO, I had 90 days to convert the CA license to a CO license. 

 

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Adventurer1, great list, just a couple of things:

- assuming people are moving with immigrant visas/green cards (so doesn't apply to H1, L1), the vaccination worksheet the panel doctor will give you is all you need for proof of vaccinations for the kids.

also I'm not aware of any state where you can drive for as long as a year on a foreign license once you've taken up residency?? Most i have heard of are between 30-90 days. California is a ridiculous 10 days (you can't even get a booking for a test within 10 days so we made the booking and kept proof with us in case of traffic stop). Thankfully CA sounds easier than yours though, no 'education' required - just doing the learners and behind the wheel test (and the latter is definitely a shorter version than those doing a first time license). Each state is different. There is one - maybe NJ? - where you can just do a straight conversion of your license.

edit: btw we had no problem registering cars and getting insurance in CA with our SA driver licenses.

Edited by SJ272
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2 hours ago, SJ272 said:

Adventurer1, great list, just a couple of things:

- assuming people are moving with immigrant visas/green cards (so doesn't apply to H1, L1), the vaccination worksheet the panel doctor will give you is all you need for proof of vaccinations for the kids.

also I'm not aware of any state where you can drive for as long as a year on a foreign license once you've taken up residency?? Most i have heard of are between 30-90 days. California is a ridiculous 10 days (you can't even get a booking for a test within 10 days so we made the booking and kept proof with us in case of traffic stop). Thankfully CA sounds easier than yours though, no 'education' required - just doing the learners and behind the wheel test (and the latter is definitely a shorter version than those doing a first time license). Each state is different. There is one - maybe NJ? - where you can just do a straight conversion of your license.

edit: btw we had no problem registering cars and getting insurance in CA with our SA driver licenses.

Yes, the list was originally on a SA/ Australian Immigration Forum- but it did come in handy

Obviously some points won't be applied to a US move (washing machines serviced etc)

We've been dragging our feet on the driver license road test, maybe we are already in violation, - hope not. We have converted our state ID's to Adult driver permits, you actually have to drive atleast for 90 days with the Adult drivers permit before being allowed to do the road test. (in CT).  

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[at]SJ272, if I remember correctly one off your girls are 14+, right?

Was she under 14 when you arrived? Do we need to take the kids for Bio Metrics when they turn 14?

I think this question was answered or asked a year or so ago. I can't remember if any one had actual experience in this regard?

I just actually want to know if you have to make an appointment or walk in, and if it can be done at your local USCIS "Field" / Immigration office

and what you need to take

 

 

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52 minutes ago, adventurer1 said:

[at]SJ272, if I remember correctly one off your girls are 14+, right?

Was she under 14 when you arrived? Do we need to take the kids for Bio Metrics when they turn 14?

I think this question was answered or asked a year or so ago. I can't remember if any one had actual experience in this regard?

I just actually want to know if you have to make an appointment or walk in, and if it can be done at your local USCIS "Field" / Immigration office

and what you need to take

 

 

If a child turns 14, they have to renew their green card. If the "original" green card expires AFTER their 16th birthday, they need to only pay $85 for the Bio Metric fee.

If their green card Expires Before their 16th Birthday they have to pay the $455 Renew fee and $85 Bio metrics

They need to complete Form I 90 via Mail or online. And wait for Bio Metric appointment notice (form I 797) at your Application Support Center.

The form can be submitted before the child turns 14, I have contradicting info on how long before (3-6 months)

https://www.uscis.gov/i-90

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OMW, thank you so very much all.  Will print and see what I have done and what is left to do.

On a funnier note.  I cancelled Telkom and ADSL 2 months prior to leave one month grace to sort it out if need be.  Can you actually believe it was done this morning, on time as requested.  The irony! 

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