One of the most important things an immigrant must do upon arriving in their new country is to look for a way to provide for their economic needs. Some individuals may have a spouse, parent, relative, friend, or other individual who provides partially or wholly for their economic needs. This support may be either temporary or long-term. However, most individuals will need to become economically self-sufficient, especially given that some categories of immigrants do not qualify for government programs and assistance. 

Employment Eligibility

For many immigrants, finding employment is one of their most pressing goals upon arriving in their new country. One of the most important factors to consider at the outset is restrictions on who can and cannot seek legal employment. Specifically, undocumented immigrants are not legally allowed to work in the United States, and those under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) must obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in order to work. Students on F1 visas may be allowed to work a limited number of hours (not more than 20 per week) at the university or school where they are enrolled according to their I-20 form. They may also be able to work off campus and for more than 20 hours per week through the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs, but special conditions regarding eligibility may apply. Those on tourist and visitor visas (B1/B2), are typically not allowed to work in the United States, as they are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. 

 

Workers rights demonstration

Finding Employment

Some jobs may require English proficiency or US educational or professional credentials, which may present a hindrance to certain immigrants. For example, some skilled immigrants with foreign earned credentials (university diplomas or professional certifications from their home countries or a third country) may be unable to obtain employment in their field of work, and as such, they are underemployed in the United States. Others may start out with an unskilled, minimum-wage job and then obtain higher-paid skilled work after learning English and/or completing educational, training, or certification programs in the United States. 

Financial Management

Financial management is another important aspect of successful immigrant integration. The US financial system may be very different than the financial system of an immigrant's home country, and financial literacy training may be necessary in order to improve economic status and empower immigrants to become self-sufficient. Financial literacy and training programs may include one or more of the following components: 1) budgeting and personal finances; 2) opening and using a checking and/or savings account at a bank; 3) US tax law and taxpayer responsibilities; 4) financing major purchases, including homes, vehicles, or higher education; 5) insurance, including medical, automobile, home, renters, life, and other insurance programs; 6) investing and stocks; 7) retirement planning and savings programs.

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