Navigating Your Fresh Start in the USA: A Guide for Ukrainian Newcomers 

November 14, 2023

Hey there, fellow newcomers to the USA, especially my Ukrainian friends!  The United States is often seen as the land of opportunity, and it's easy to understand why. With its diverse culture, vast landscapes, and myriad of possibilities, it's a dream destination for many. But stepping into a new country can be overwhelming, so let's break it down together.

Picking Your Perfect State 

The USA is a massive country, composed of 50 individual states, each with its unique set of laws, taxes, and regulations. Before making your move, it's crucial to decide which state suits you best.

Tip: Many Ukrainians initially opt for states with established Ukrainian communities. Illinois, especially in Chicago and its surroundings, New York, and New Jersey, particularly New York City and Jersey City, are hubs for the Ukrainian diaspora. However, Ukrainians can be found across the nation, just in smaller numbers.

Here are six critical steps to take when making the move

1. Stay Connected: Get a SIM Card 

In the digital age, staying connected is vital. To get a SIM card, you typically need to sign a mobile phone contract. Look for mobile operators that don't demand local registration, extensive personal details, or information about your workplace.

2. Social Security Number (SSN) 

Your Social Security Number (SSN) is your ticket to many opportunities. You'll need it to access social assistance and legally work in the USA. The SSN comes in two types: indefinite (for US citizens and green card holders) and urgent (for various visa holders and program participants).

Notable: Ukrainians who entered the USA through the "Uniting for Ukraine" program may need an Employment Authorization in addition to the SSN. Luckily, the U4U work authorization is typically provided for free.

3. Finding Your Home Sweet Home 

Locating a place to live is often a puzzle. Landlords can be cautious, and they may thoroughly check your financial capability, credit history, and background.

Recommendations: Seek housing recommendations through friends and acquaintances already living in the USA. Facebook groups, like "Ukrainians in the USA," can be helpful, as well as the "Rental housing in [name of city]" tab on Facebook Marketplace and real estate websites like Zillow.

4. Banking Basics

Opening a bank account is crucial for managing your finances in the USA. Most banks require proof of identity, your SSN, and evidence of your legal status in the country (such as your visa or form I-94).

5. Credit Journey 

Building a good credit score is important in the USA. To start, consider getting a secured credit card, where you deposit a certain amount in the bank and use the card just like any other credit card. Pay off the balance every month to prove your reliability, and your credit limit will gradually increase.

6. Hit the Road 

If you're planning to drive, you'll need an American driver's license. You can use your Ukrainian license for the first three months. To transition to an American license, you'll need to pass both written and practical exams. The written test is often available in multiple languages, while the practical test is typically in English.

Don't be disheartened if you don't succeed on your first try. Many individuals need multiple attempts, and you can do it, too!

Moving to a new country can be an exciting and daunting experience at the same time. However, with proper planning and preparation, you can make the transition smoother. In addition to the steps listed above, there are other things you might want to consider, such as learning the local language, getting health insurance, and familiarizing yourself with the local culture and customs. It's also a good idea to join local groups and communities to meet new people and make friends. Remember, it takes time to adjust to a new country, but with patience and perseverance, you can build a new life and achieve your dreams.

We're here to support each other, so don't hesitate to ask questions, connect with fellow Ukrainians, and share your experiences. Together, we can thrive in the USA! 

If you have any more questions or need further guidance, feel free to reach out. We're here for you, and we wish you the best of luck on your exciting adventure! 🌟