Frequently Asked Questions
About Working in the U.S.
FAQ ON THINGS TO DO BEFORE FLYING
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 it exists.
- 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 members.
- 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 happenings.
- 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
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 come
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
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 necessary.
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
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 Cook.
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 to do.
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 needs!!
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 the
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
· 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 from India.
THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO AFTER LANDING IN U.S. AIRPORT:
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
- 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 in US
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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
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
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 like:
· 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 account).
· 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 anything.
· 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 Vehicles office.)
· 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
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 is over.
- 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 lease papers.
- 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
- 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 complex.
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
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
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
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 Alien.
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
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
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 about anything.
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.