Frequently Asked Questions
About Working in the U.S.
FAQ ON THINGS TO DO BEFORE
FLYING TO USA
Usually, before anyone comes to the USA from India for the first
time he/she will start talking to people who have been here before
and get information from them about what to expect, what to do,
etc. Though this gives some idea it doesn't make one confident or
better prepared and moreover how much can one absorb at once. So
we felt the need for a small, informal document which anyone could
read before he/she flies to the USA. The objective of this document
is to make you aware of the things that one needs to do in India
before he flies, things worth purchasing in India (and not worth
purchasing in India also), and other procedures/ formalities, situations
to expect and enlighten you with facts so you can be comfortable
once you get there. This friendly document will guide you for your
shopping in India. You will be better prepared for the trip if you
read this document before going. Some of the things may just seem
common sense, but remember that it may not seem so common to some
other reader of this document. This is just out of our experience
and should be considered as an advice rather than final authoritative
statements, which may be arguable.
Important Things to do in India:
- Learn Driving and get a driving
license. Get IDP.
- Remove ECR from your passport if
- Close all your other bank accounts
and out the money in one account in fixed or whatever suites you.
- Open a NRE a/c. If possible take
the copy of your visa and, anything else they say you also need,
and an affidavit from the court to any bank close to your place
and open an NRE account with the bank. You will have to ask the
bank for the exact procedure. Inquire about it beforehand to avoid
surprises at the last moment. Most people open it because of the
high interest rate in this account. But you can't withdraw money
from this account for six months or so. Usually people give an
authority letter to somebody back home to operate that account.
This thing usually is not possible because most of us fly the
same week we get the visa. But somehow give it a try.
- Give power of attorney to your family
- Settle all your instruments.
- File I-Tax returns.
- If possible mail to someone who
has recently gone to the US on same platform through same body
shopper. You will be more prepared for local things and latest
- Prepare a list of people you know
in the US try to get all the details like Postal addresses, residence
phone, office Phone, E-mail.
- Check if your company gives you
some money as an advance. It is necessary because you need to
buy a car at most of the places here. For a second hand car (86-89)
model you will have to shell out somewhere between $2300 to $3000.
Or if you plan to stay here for five years or so then you can
buy a new one between $10000 to $15000 in installments. But even
then you need around $1200 to $2000 as a down payment.
- Keep a camera with you in the last
two days before flying. Take snaps of people with you at an appropriate
location. Take these snaps to the US
your hair to the shortest length acceptable by you.
a medical checkup done
a) Dental: It costs so much in US that you can fly to India and
b) Fresh checkup, especially if you have a major ailment
c) Get prescriptions & medicines for all common ailments from
your own family doctor (the technical name of the medicine along
with the Indian/US brand name)
d) Get your eyesight checked - get a new prescription. Buy at
least one extra pair of glasses
e) Get tested for TB if possible (chest x-ray) - or else they
will do it at the Univ. for students
f) Get a requisite immunization done (especially mmr)
cassettes recorded which you would like to take with you.
Write to the India club/oips giving your flight #, time & date
of arrival; they may pick you up & give temporary accommodation
If you are very interested in any Indian magazines (gult, Tamil,
etc.) subscribe to them - you can subscribe to them after going
to the US also.
Note your/parent's bank a/c #.
USIS/USEFI near Churchgate, Mumbai.
at lease US $50-100 in your pocket. You can get this from Thomas
all of your child's immunization reports with you.
relax, close your eyes and let your mind go through a journey
of the last year. Remember all Daily/Weekly/ Monthly/ Annual things
you do. Try to settle all of these things. Subscriptions, Meetings...
There may be family/personal things that only YOU want to do before
flying. The best way is to make a CHECKLIST of things YOU want
Purchase in India:
The carry baggage is the biggest problem
while coming to US What to carry? How much to carry? Do I carry
more woolen clothes 'cause its cold out there? Well, we all think,
it depends!! Don't carry too many heavy utensils, cooker etc. You
can buy most of the utensils there. They are not costly and you
don't have to carry much. You can carry some spices with you if
you want to, because after going there you may start missing the
Indian food taste. Don't carry too many warm clothes (unless you
are going there in winter), or sports shoes etc. It would be better
if you buy them after going there. That way you can buy the latest
style. But you should carry leather shoes from India, since leather
items are costly in the US The rest all depends on you and your
PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS YOU SHOULD
Carry your Passport, BRI/Body Shopper papers,
a checklist of bag-wise items packed. Don't bring more no. of books
get only which will be required. Get Indian calendar (Kalnirnay)
so that it's easy to relate to festivals in India. For every important
document (PP, BRI Papers, Medical Insurance) prepare a Xerox set.
Make sure your Medical insurance is valid for the entire period
of your stay if you are coming on B1. Get all your certificates,
transcripts and other qualification documents. Get your Driving
License along with IDP.
Things to be done in the last week before
up & find out if there is any delay or change of schedule of the
plane (inform the people coming to pick you up of any such change)
· Rest well - be ready to face the
long journey/jet lag
· Bid bye to all concerned
· Remember that you will have to do
shopping/ packing/telephoning etc. along with giving time to Guests
coming to meet you. Try and balance this.
ON THE FLIGHT:
Since it is going to be a long
flight wear something comfortable (cotton dress + full hand shirt).
Wear your shoes - in-flight you can remove them (some airlines give
in-flight shoes - else relax in socks). Be at the airport 3-4 hours
before flight departure. Collect $20 at the airport (part of it
in $1). Relax during the flight, sleep as much as possible. For
vegetarians - watch out before you eat - you may get non-veg even
if you had asked for veg. Veg. Food is generally bland - fruits/juice
are good choices. (Before ordering anything on board check if you
have to pay separately for it). Don't hesitate to ask questions.
Once out of India be very careful (from sheer experience of seniors).
Don't trust anyone. Don't hire a taxi (unless it is an emergency)
until you reach your destination. If required don't hesitate to
spend money. Don't hesitate to talk to people to ask questions -
usually they will answer all your queries properly - very different
THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO AFTER LANDING IN U.S.
Ask the Airline person where to go first.
Collect your baggage. Then you will have to go for I-94 stamping.
While you check out through the US customs here, they usually give
you a small piece of paper which reads
Following things to be considered:
"I-94 Departure Record ". It is stamped with a date, which is the
day when you are to end your stay in the US Your stay after that
day in the US is illegal. In fact it is the only document to verify
that you are a legal entrant in the US so see to it that you never
loose it. It is better if you staple it with your passport. They
will ask for PP and BRI papers. Here they might ask you some questions
about your visit and purpose. Next your baggage will be screened
and then you can go out. It's better to buy long distance Prepaid
Telephone cards at an Airport. Next call your contact person or
friends and tell them about your arrival and plans. Choose a reliable
mode of transport for going to your destination. Taxis are very
costly. There may be Airport Bus Services (Checkout). And it's better
to ask for the direction guidelines from your friends or contact
person when you are in India itself. Once you reach your destination,
call back your contact person and friends. It's always advisable
to keep your watch in sync with the current time zone. If you lose
your luggage in the airport do not leave the terminal until you
file a complaint with the authorities.
- If you are coming directly to a
client's place then buy some food stuff, so that initially you
can cook and it should last for a week.
- If you are coming where there are
some of your friends then there is no need to carry foods stuff,
everything is available here.
- If you are coming on B1 then buy
only necessary items because you will be going back to India in
2/3 months time.
- No need to buy any electrical items
because of the Voltage difference. Those things cannot be used
- Cold and cough are pretty common
here when you are new. Definitely not with all of us but with
most of us. Bring something like Roll-on etc. in bulk if you are
going to stay for a period of one year or so at a stretch.
- Iodex is also something that you
could need here. Hope you never need it but it helps to be on
the safer side.
- If you are going to stay alone here
better bring a few utensils. Be sure that the utensils have a
flat bottom as the electric grills widely used here have a flat
heating coil. A lot of electricity will be wasted and it will
take too long for the dish to cook if the utensil does not have
a flat bottom.
- Include a pressure cooker in the
above with extra rubber and safety valves.
- You can't get a beelan (to prepare
roti) here so if you plan to prepare roti, bring it.
- Bring all your woolen clothes if
you are going some where close to the East Coast.
- A purse that can hold many credit
cards and dollars, of course.
- For men bring Old Spice after-shave
if you use it. Even this isn't cheap here.
- Although they don't allow these
on board, bring Indian spices ($5 per 250gms) and bottled pickle
(whatever your favorite is) with you because firstly these are
not widely available here and secondly even if they are then they
are too costly (compared to Indian prices for the same thing).
- Same with Hindi film songs cassettes.
Do bring all your favorites with you ($2.5-$2.99 per cassette).
- You may buy a mono or deck from
here (Range $30 to $300 and Upwards). The upper end decks are
usually bought to take them back to India.
- Also, bring a small and handy pouch
or leather case to keep your passport, checkbook, and a telephone
diary, etc. in because you need to carry these things almost always
here, especially the passport until you get a permanent license
which takes around six months (minimum). This particular thing
is also costly here ($25 upwards).
- Do bring India style clothes/Ornaments,
etc. since Indians in some parts of the US meet regularly on Festivals.
- There are a lot of things we use
regularly which cost less that Rs. 36. If you were to buy the
same in the US, you would have to buy in bulk. So blindly pack
in things like a needle, thread, paper clips, cotton, etc.
- Don'ts: You don't need to bring
a stock of soaps and shampoo or things like hangers, calculator,
and gold items.
FAQ ON THINGS TO DO AFTER FLYING
Usually, before anyone comes to the USA for the first time from
India he/she will start talking to people who have been here before
and get information from them about what to expect, what to do etc.
Though this gives some idea it doesn't make one confident or better
prepared and moreover how much can one absorb at once. So we felt
the need for a small, informal document, which anyone could carry
along with or read on the plane before he/she gets to the USA. The
objective of this document is to make you aware of things, situations
to expect and enlighten you with facts so you can be comfortable
once you get there.
The first thing you need to do once landing at the port-of-entry
in the US airport (international airport where you first land in
the US) is to go through immigration and customs clearance. After
this you may board a domestic flight to reach your final destination.
Before landing at your final international port-of-entry, and while
you are still inside the plane, you will be given a form to fill
out called I-94. On alighting from the plane you may ask people
or signs will guide you to the immigration. Keep your passport,
H1-paper (Blue form) and the form you filled out inside the plane
handy. At the counter you might be asked some questions. TALK
ABSOLUTELY TO THE POINT. DON'T TRY TO LIE. MAKE SURE THAT WHATEVER
YOU SAY IS WRITTEN ON THE PAPER.
You will be given the counter foil of I-94 form.
Try to acquire some 25 cent coins (called "quarters"), which you
may need for getting a trolley cart for your baggage and also for
making telephone calls, etc. Thereafter move towards the baggage
claim carousel assigned to your flight; simply follow the signs
directing you to the place. Collect your luggage and look for signs
directing you to customs clearance. At the customs clearance they
may ask you to open your bags for a security check/verification.
Since the Port-of-entry may not be your final destination in the
US and you have to proceed onwards, locate the counter for the domestic
airline you will be taking to your final destination. Above all
don't hesitate or feel shy to ask for help from airport support
staff (at information desks) or police officers, if you need anything.
Follow signs directing you to your domestic flight because you will
need a boarding pass. If it is far away, take the Airport shuttle
(bus) service, which is free. If you don't know where to get off,
tell the driver in advance and he will drop you off at the proper
place. At the counter (podium) check-in your baggage and get your
boarding pass issued and ready. On arrival at the final destination,
collect your baggage once again and look around for that someone
who may be there to receive you.
The first thing you might do when
you come to the USA is call someone. So this is a good time to tell
you about telephone usage. Telephone calls within US are considered
"local" (within the area of the caller) or "long distance" (outside
the area of the caller). Local calls within a short region are free
unless made from a public pay phone, which is a coin-operated machine.
Long distance calls are charged at varying rates, depending on how
you make the call (which long distance carrier/company you use),
for how long you speak and the time of the day. Note that the telephone
companies in the US are private. Each local region is assigned an
"area code". So the phone numbers are denoted as (area code)-123-4567.
Where 123-4567 is your actual phone number. If you are calling a
number within our "area" then you should dial only the phone number.
If the call is outside your area you need to dial 1-(area code)-123-4567,
which is the long distance call. Again, sometimes when the area
code is the same as yours, you may still have to dial a "1" before
the number without the area-code e.g. 1-<7-digit phone number>.
To make an international call, i.e. to India, you need to dial 011-91--
e.g. 011-91-22-1234567. Here 011 indicates an international call.
91 is the country code for India. 22 is the "area code" for Bombay
and 1234567 may be the actual phone number you want to dial.
There are four time zones in the US
- Eastern TZ
Example: Massachusetts, New York, Florida etc.
- Central TZ (lags Eastern
TZ by one hour) Example: Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana etc.
- Mountain TZ (lags Eastern
TZ by two hours) Example: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming etc.
- Pacific TZ (lags Eastern
TZ by three hours) Example: California, Oregon, Washington etc.
Dollar: 100 cents
Quarter: 25 cents
Dime: 10 cents
Nickel: 5 cents
Penny: 1 cent
Initially there is some confusion since the quarter is exactly of
the same size and shape as the Indian 50 paise coin.
Of course you will be hungry when you arrive.
God knows what you ate on the plane. You don't remember the item's
name or its contents. It may be one of the weirdest things you ever
had for dinner or lunch. So you must be apprehensive about what
you will get for lunch or dinner. The best thing you can try is
PIZZA, which is pronounced as "PiTza". You get both Veg. and NonVeg.
Pizzas. But to be on the safer side order a Veg. Pizza. That way
you won't be left hungry at least. Order a small pizza if you are
alone or a medium size is enough for two or three (well it depends
on your appetite actually). You can order pizza by phone and it
will be delivered at your doorstep in a few minutes. Refer to the
yellow pages or consult the receptionist at the motel you are staying
in for information. For breakfast, have a 'Continental breakfast'
which is cheap and the best. To be sure about Veg. items, always
ask for items with "NO MEAT" rather than "WITHOUT MEAT". Be sure
to say, "NO ICE" if you prefer to have your drink without ice. And
remember that a CHEESEBURGER is a misnomer. It contains meat besides
cheese, so be careful!
Here is a guide for Vegetarian Dishes:
Mexican Bean Burrito, Enchiladas, Bean Taco, Cheese Taco, Bean Tostadas,
Mexican Pizza, Italian or Greek Eggplant (brinjal) sandwich, Spaghetti
with tomato sauce, Lasagna (pronounced Laza-nya), Italian Pizza,
Italian Pasta with tomato sauce, Falafel, Veg. Gyro (pronounced
Yero), Denny's Vegetable omelet (with eggs), Vegetable lunch/dinner
(salad, potato smash, garlic sauce), Broccoli soup. American Restaurants
(Sizzler, Olive Garden) best bet is salad bar & French fries; McDonald's
Mac cheese sandwich, Milk shakes, ice-cream sundae; Pizza Hut Veggie
Lover's delight, Veggie pizza with a choice of toppings such as
Jalapenos (pronounced Hala-pin-yose and are green chilies), pineapple,
tomato, onions etc.; Burger King Vege cheese whopper, Garden burger.
OFFICE AND THE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Before you start your first day, get
a hang of how the work environment is at the client's place from
any PCS person there or read on for some typical environments you
may find. Project Leaders are very understanding and friendly and
do not unduly pressure you to perform. They will definitely give
you some time to come up to speed on their work environment. There
is often an individual approach. Every person's inputs are given
a lot of importance. Independent views are respected. Before discarding
any of your ideas, they will give you a good enough reason for doing
so. For the smallest of decisions they will sometimes hold a meeting
and get the entire team's inputs/comments/suggestions before proceeding.
One feels important when this is done. But sometimes it can get
boring. Nobody double-checks what you are saying, they take you
for your word. There are no suspicious feelings and managers don't
fear subordinates. Managers will openly discuss about their meetings
with "their" bosses, with the team. There is no hide and seek as
far as information/feedback is concerned. People admit if they don't
know or have information about certain things. They don't pretend
to be all knowing. People are dedicated to their area of work and
develop expertise in it. But they do not talk about work related
topics, which are not in their area of expertise; they immediately
refer you to the right person. People enjoy their work and leisure.
They plan their weekends well in advance. Very few people stay late
in the office or come and work during weekends. Such things are
not related to performance. As long as you do your work well and
within time, nobody cares what else you do and when. Most companies
allow you to compensate by working during the weekend if you take
off from work on a regular weekday. The work hours in most companies
are flexible. Come anytime and go anytime but you do need to put
in a minimum of 8 hrs/day or 40 hrs/week as contractors. Regular
time sheets "may" have to be filled out in some companies.
MEDICAL INSURANCE REGISTRATION FORM (MOST IMPORTANT
You are supposed to send this form to the
medical insurance company. It needs routine personal information.
In two weeks time you will receive your medical insurance card,
which will cover most of your medical expenses in the US But be
sure you understand what is covered under this scheme and what is
not. You are supposed to send all these forms and memos ASAP. A
couple of these forms require your Social Security number.
GETTING SOCIAL SECURITY AND DRIVER'S LICENSE
You must go and get your social security
number and driving license done immediately after you come.
Social Security Number:
Each individual in the Unites States is required to be registered
with the US government by law. Social Security is similar to the
way we have registration in India through Ration Card. The Social
Security Number is very useful for the government as well as for
the individual. The government can keep track of the individual
from this particular number. You will need the SS number for any
official paper work or dealings, e.g. while filling Tax forms or
while opening a bank account or while getting a membership in the
public library. A person's entire credit history can be traced from
this number. As soon as one arrives in the US, he/she is required
to get a Social Security number immediately. It is a very simple
procedure. Every town or a city has a Social Security office. You
have to go there with your Passport. First thing you need to do
is collect the application form for a new social security number.
These forms are available in various languages. Find one in English
and fill it out completely. It will ask you for your local postal
address details besides other information. The officer will check
your application form and passport. After checking everything you
will be informed when you will be receiving your Social Security
number by postal mail. Generally within three to four weeks time
you will receive your social security number which appears printed
on a small card. You should carry/preserve this card safely.
Getting a Driver's License:
A driver's license is one of the most important documents required
in the United States. Apart from driving needs it is required at
almost all the places where you need to show your ID. This is the
only valid identity card which is required and approved at all the
places. Here in the US most of the money transactions are done via
checks or credit cards. Initially when you don't have a credit card,
a check is the only practical and recommended way of payment. Nobody
keeps cash. People generally issue checks even for a small amount
of less than $5.00. Checks are as good as cash and can be deposited
at any ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) center. These checks are accepted
only with a valid PHOTO-ID at most places. Actually a photo-id could
also be a simple identity card issued by the DMV (Dept. of Motor
Vehicles), which is not a driver's license. At most places a Driver's
license is the only valid PHOTO-ID. So after getting a Social Security
number, it is important for one to acquire a driver's license as
soon as possible. Getting a driver's license is not very difficult
here. Before appearing for a driving test behind the wheel one has
to clear a written test conducted by DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles
-similar to RTO in India). Each state has their own laws for driving
a vehicle. The DMV issues a book on the rules, which are required
to be followed very strictly. This book gives detailed information
about all the laws and is written in a very nice manner. It is very
easy to follow all the rules as they are nicely explained and if
necessary, supported by good photographs. After understanding the
contents of this book you can appear for the written exam. You can
appear for the test on any working day. You can call up DMV and
make an appointment with them or you can even go directly. They
will check your Passport and will give you a question paper. Questions
are the objective type and you have to choose the best answer for
each question. Time is no limit for the exam. After you are done
with it, the person behind the counter will immediately check your
paper and will tell you your score. Upon passing this test you will
get a temporary driving license, which is valid for two months.
The DMV also issues an ID card. The state government issues this.
You can use this Id card as a Photo-Id until you get your driver's
license. Some places require you to produce two Photo-Ids, at which
time it is very useful to have this photo-id. During the period
of temporary license one can appear for the driving test. You can
practice on a rented car or if you are not very confident then you
can even go for some driving lessons. For driving lessons you can
go to driving school or to a private teacher. Private teachers are
little cheaper as compared to a driving school. Once you are ready
for the test, again you will have to make an appointment with the
DMV for the driving test. On the day of the appointment you have
to go there with your learning license. The car in which you will
give your driving test should have proper Insurance papers. Also
check all the controls, including signal lights and brake lights.
If any of these are not in shape, you will not be allowed to appear
for the test. This test will be of 100 marks. After your test, the
driving inspector will immediately tell you your result. Generally
they explain to you your mistakes so that you can work on them and
rectify them. If you have passed you will get your license immediately
in most places. If you fail there is no minimum period required
between the times you appear again. So you can practice again and
appear as soon as you can.
There are basically of two types -
Savings a/c (with interest) and Checking a/c (with NO interest).
Generally most people open a Checking a/c at first. To open an account
you need a social security number, however since it takes a week
or more to get the social security number one can request the bank
to verify the passport and open the a/c. Later, do remember to inform
the bank once you receive your SS number. Then there are concepts
· Minimum balance - which is either
NO or YES (It is better to open an a/c with NO MINIMUM BALANCE otherwise
you have to always maintain the specified minimum amount in the
· Overdraft facility - Again NO or
YES (This allows you some amount of overdraft. This might be beneficial
in some cases, such as when the monthly salary is not received on
time and the house rent, phone bills etc. have to be paid.)
· Check/cheque book availability -
There are various kinds of check/cheque books available that one
can choose from, such as with colored paper or a printed background
design, etc. Usually a set of 200 checks bound together in books
of 20 each is sufficient for 6 months. It depends on how many checks
are issued by you and at what frequency. On opening an account the
bank immediately gives the first checkbook; the other books of checks
are mailed to you at the given address.
· ATM card - The next thing is to ask
for an ATM card. This allows you to withdraw money 24 hrs./day from
any ATM machine of the bank or related ones. Some banks charge money
to issue an ATM card and the first set of check/cheque books. Something
like $10.00 for the ATM card and another $10.00 for the first 200
checks (10 books of 20 pages each). But most banks do not charge
· Paying by check - The whole procedure
of opening an account takes about 10-15 mins. A few shops/gas stations
etc. ask for a valid photo-id when payment is made by check. This
is just for verification. (A photo-id could be a US driver's license
or an actual ID-card, which is issued by the local Dept. of Motor
· Check amounts - Small payments such
as $1.25 etc. too can be made by check and it is not absurd to do
so. People carry very little or no cash on their person. Most of
them make their payment by credit card or check. But it is advisable
to carry about $20.00 in cash at all times to cover emergency needs.
Of course you will have to always carry your checkbook around.
· Writing a check - The following style
is used to write the amount in words on the check. Say for e.g.
the amount to be paid is $35.47 then you would write the Dollar
amount in words: THIRTY FIVE & 47/100.
It is a fashion to collect cards of all
types and store them in ones purse. The cards here refer to the
plastic type, e.g. credit cards. There are cards such as:
· Credit card
· Debit card
· Bank ATM card
· Shopping Store cards (e.g. Sears
card; "SEARS" is the name of a chain of stores in the U.S.)
· Medical benefit card
· Telephone calling card
· Public library membership card
Most purses have transparent packets to keep these cards in order.
RENTING AN APARTMENT
Now that you have started your work
you would like to move into your own apartment rather than stay
in the motel. Here is what you should know about renting an apartment.
You can get information on how to rent an apartment from the "Apartments"
section of the Yellow Pages, newspaper or 'Rental Guides' which
are available at the stores. To lease (rent) an apartment you should
consider following points:
- Lease period and deposits
Usually there are two types of lease depending on the period
of the lease: 6 months lease & 12 months lease. (In some places
they allow 3-month lease too, but the rent increases in that case).
In most of the cases you get 1 month rent free if you select a
12 month lease and you get a half months rent free if you select
6 months lease. You have to pay 1 months rent as a security deposit
and some amount around 10$ to 15$ as a key deposit. Rent for an
apartment in a basement is less than other apartments. Very few
people prefer to stay in basements because of security reasons.
So when you ask about availability of apartments it is possible
that the Manager will say that only the basement apartment is
available. Hence insist for an apartment on the first or second
floor if you don't want a basement apartment. Otherwise after
renting a basement apartment you will realize that other apartments
not in the basement were also available.
Check whether your rent includes utilities such as hot water,
Cable etc. Otherwise you end up spending around 100$ to 150$ for
electricity bill if you have to pay for hot water.
- Lease Terms
Understand the lease terms properly because most of the times
you need to break the lease in case your project terminates suddenly.
If you want to break the lease. You have to give 30 days notice.
You lose your security deposit In some cases they (the apartment
management) try to find somebody who wants to rent your apartment.
If they don't get anybody within 30 days period You have to pay
1 month's rent extra. In this situation you lose your security
deposit plus one months rent. Get these terms clarified before
signing the lease papers.
- Lease Breaking
If you are sharing an apartment with somebody. Suppose 3 people
are sharing an apartment and all three have their names on lease
papers. In case one of the three wants to leave before the lease
period is over, you need to take a letter from him saying that
the other two people can do all further paper work. This letter
is required when your lease period is over or even if you want
to break the lease before that period is over. If you don't have
such a letter you won't be able to break the lease unless all
three have signed the lease break paper. In such cases you also
end up losing your deposit. This is true even for normal termination
of lease period. Be careful and understand these terms and conditions
After renting an apartment carefully observe if there are
any types of damages in the apartment. If you see any, ask your
Property Manager to make a note of it. Otherwise they will deduct
some amount from your security deposit when your lease period
- Downgrading and Upgrading
If you want to move to 2 bedroom apartment from 1 bedroom
apartment you have to pay some 100$ to 200$. Many cases downgrading
i.e. moving to 1 bedroom apartment from 2-bedroom apartment is
not allowed. Get clarification on all such points while signing
- Electricity and Telephone connection
After you rent the apartment you need to inform your local
Electric Supply company that you will be staying in that apartment
from so and so date and that they may bill you from that date.
Ask your local telephone company for a telephone connection by
calling them up. Most of the business takes place on the phone.
Surprisingly all work gets done and promptly too.
- Maintaining an apartment
In most of the apartments you have cooking range, oven, dishwasher,
refrigerator etc. Use aluminum foil to cover part of the cooking
range (other than coils) so that it remains clean and in the end
you don't need to spend time in cleaning it. Dishwasher soap is
available in liquid or in powder form. Dishwasher inner surface
starts becoming blackish after some days. The cleaning liquid
can be used to clean it. This can be done once in a month. Clean
your oven once in a month using oven-cleaning liquid. Use plastic
garbage bags in trash cans so that you can just take the bag and
dispose it in the central trash, usually provided in the apartment
If the apartment itself does not have a washer/dryer, there
will usually be a common laundry room in the complex where you
can do your weekly washing/drying. Such common machines usually
are coin-operated machines so you'll need a few quarters and also
your own favorite detergent powder.
INCOME TAX IN THE U.S.
Income Tax return filing is very simple
in the US as compared to India. Here Tax forms are very simple and
easy to fill out. One need not know all about Taxation laws to easily
file a tax return.
Here in the US there are two types of taxes. One is the FEDERAL
Tax which is something like our Income tax and the other is the
STATE Tax. The last day for filing the income tax return is the
15th of April. The accounting year runs from the 1st of January
until the 31st of December.
The US has a tax treaty with India. Under this tax treaty one can
file his tax return either in India or in the US as per your convenience.
But you need to show your income earned in either of the countries.
Suppose you come to the US in the middle of the year. You must definitely
have some income in India before you came to the US in that particular
financial year. You must also have some part of a salary paid to
you even when you are in the US This income is taxable and hence
you pay tax on that income. Generally you pay tax on this income
in India as in most of the cases income tax is deducted at the source.
So, one pays tax on the income in India. Now you are liable only
for the tax on the income that you earn in US
There are different types of tax forms for different categories
of people. US residents that have Resident Alien status can file
a 1040 form (regular, 1040A or 1040 EZ).
Any person who is in the US for more than 183 days continuously
gains the status of Resident Alien. Any person who is in US for
less than 183 days in that financial year is considered as Nonresident
Nonresident Aliens do not have the same Tax benefits as US citizens
or Resident Aliens. Here in particular, Nonresident Aliens do not
get Standard deductions on their income. Also they have to pay Tax
as per the Flat rate. Basically, when you file your Tax return as
NR you end up paying more taxes. You have to file the 1040NR form
when you are have a Nonresident Alien status.
One can get help for filing a Tax return form from the government
body known as the IRS (Internal Revenue Services). This is the same
as the Income Tax department in India.
Also, one has to pay tax to the state government. Each state has
a different tax law for the State Tax. A booklet of information
on this is available upon request.
Tax forms are available for free at public places such as the Post
office or Public library. One can get all the forms that he/she
requires. Also, the government gives special services to people
who need guidance. One can get information and/or assistance in
understanding the form(s) by calling on the phone or by going in
person. Apart from these facilities provided by the government one
can even go to private Tax consultants. They charge somewhere between
$30 to $60. They take care of every detail and one need not bother
Along with the Tax, you are supposed to send a "W2" form. Your employer
provides this form to all the employees. The "W2" form contains
your salary information and all the taxes paid by the employer to
the State and Federal governments. Details about the social security
taxes and the medical taxes paid by the employer are also included
in this form. There are three copies of this form. One copy is to
be sent with the State Tax form; one with the Federal Tax form and
one is for the employee's personal record. Before sending the W2
form one should check the validity of the information in it. Most
important is the correct social security number. If there is any
change in any of the information one should inform your employer
ASAP. The employer is supposed to send the corrected information,
called the "W2C" form, to both the IRS and the employee.
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