Things To Know Before Moving From Ireland To USA

Considering the leap of moving from Ireland to the USA? Our comprehensive article eliminates guesswork from your transatlantic shift, spotlighting crucial areas like visa strategies, accommodation options, employment avenues, and cultural assimilation. Step-by-step, we guide you through each stage of the process – ensuring you not only land on American soil but thrive there, with insights into securing your future in the States.

Key Takeaways

  • Irish citizens have various visa options based on their intentions in the USA, such as temporary work visas (H-1B, L, O, H-2B), student visas (F-1, M-1), and immigrant visas (IR, F), each requiring specific conditions to be met.
  • The preparation for moving from Ireland to the USA should involve logistical planning, including assessment of living costs, shipping options (air vs sea freight), finding suitable accommodation, and setting up finances such as opening a US bank account.
  • Adapting to life in the USA entails understanding cultural differences, navigating the healthcare system, leveraging job opportunities in in-demand sectors, and, if emigrating as a family, considering spousal and education facilities for children.

Understanding the Visa Options for Irish Citizens

Whether you are seeking to work temporarily, study, or reside permanently, the USA offers a variety of visas to Irish citizens. The key is to choose the right visa that aligns with your circumstances, such as:

  • your qualifications
  • education level
  • work experience
  • family links

We will now delve into the various visa types that are available for Irish citizens.

Temporary Work Visas

Temporary work visas allow Irish nationals to fulfill specific job roles in the U.S. for a limited period. Some of these include:

  • The H-1B visa for specialty occupations, a type of temporary work visa
  • The L visa for intracompany transferees
  • The O visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement
  • The H-2B visa caters to roles like seasonal, peak-load, or one-time occurrence jobs with a maximum stay of three years.

The visa application process involves a U.S. employer certifying the temporary nature of the job, obtaining a labor certification, and then filing Form I-129 before you can apply for the visa. Keep in mind that an annual quota is set for these visas, which can be increased under certain circumstances. Your eligibility is contingent on receiving a U.S. job offer and your intention to return to Ireland. Additionally, you may consider applying for a critical skills employment permit if you meet the requirements.

Student Visas

If you are a student looking to pursue your academic aspirations in the land of opportunities, the F-1 and M-1 visas are your way in. The F-1 Visa is designed for students who wish to engage in academic studies in U.S. colleges, universities, or English language institutes, while the M-1 Visa is for those pursuing vocational or nonacademic studies.

To be eligible for an F-1 Visa, also known as an exchange visitor visa, you must:

  1. Gain admission to a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school
  2. Enroll in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  3. Pay a $160 (approximately €150) application fee
  4. Pay a $200 (approximately €187) SEVIS fee
  5. Complete the Form I-20 issued after SEVIS enrollment
  6. Provide proof of adequate funding for the first year and future funding sources
  7. Provide evidence of strong connections to Ireland, confirming your intent to return after your studies.

Immigrant Visas

For those seeking to reside permanently in the USA, immigrant visas are designed to make this possible for Irish citizens. An immigrant visa allows you to live and work permanently in the United States. In contrast, an Irish residence permit would be required for non-Irish citizens looking to reside in Ireland. As an Irish resident, you would need to obtain an immigrant visa to make the transition to the United States.

There are two categories of immigrant visas: Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (IR) for close family relationships with US citizens and Family Preference Immigrant Visas (F), which are subject to annual numerical limits. To obtain the appropriate visa, a US family member or employer applies for these visas with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), followed by the National Visa Center (NVC) processing after approval and requesting additional documents from you.

Subsequently, you will need to:

  1. Complete the Form DS-260 online
  2. Submit required civil documents to the NVC
  3. Undergo a medical examination with approved physicians, including mandatory vaccinations, before the visa interview.

Preparing for the Move: Costs and Logistics

Preparing for the move involves more than just packing your bags. The cost of living varies between Ireland and the USA, with rent in Dublin being higher than in places like Augusta, Georgia, yet general expenses on dining and cell services differ as well. Online comparison sites like Numbeo can help you assess and compare the cost of living in various US cities and towns.

In preparing for your move, you should consider aspects such as geographic location and lifestyle preferences, which greatly influence the overall living cost.

Shipping Belongings

When it comes to moving your belongings across the Atlantic, UPakWeShip offers a range of products and services tailored to make the process seamless and cost-effective. For those looking to save money, UPakWeShip allows you to pack your items yourself. Our innovative U Crates are a particularly convenient option; these sturdy crates are delivered right to your doorstep, ready for you to load with your belongings. Once packed, we collect the crate and handle the shipping directly to your new home overseas, cutting out the need for expensive air freight – unless, of course, you’re relocating under a fancy corporate account that covers such costs.

UPakWeShip has its own offices in Europe, the United Kingdom, and America, ensuring a single company handles your move from door to door. This integrated approach not only simplifies customs procedures but also offers peace of mind with our exceptional customer service. By choosing UPakWeShip, you’re opting for a hassle-free, cost-effective relocation experience without the complexities often associated with international moves.

Finding Accommodation

Securing a suitable living space is a pivotal step in your relocation journey. You should assess potential neighborhoods based on:

  • Safety
  • Closeness to your workplace
  • Public transport accessibility
  • Availability of local services

States like Kentucky, South Dakota, Arkansas, and West Virginia are among the cheapest, while Hawaii, California, Maryland, and New Jersey are more expensive.

Before signing the rental agreement, it is important to:

  1. Inspect the potential long-term accommodation in person to verify its condition.
  2. Document any pre-existing damages in the rental property to prevent disputes over the security deposit at the end of the leasing period.
  3. Don’t forget to arrange temporary accommodation for the initial days post-arrival, such as using services like hotels, hostels, or Airbnb.

Setting Up Finances

Establishing your finances in the new country is an integral step in your relocation journey. To open a bank account in the USA, you will need to provide the following essential requirements:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Photo ID
  • Proof of residency
  • Opening deposit

There are several choices for banking in the US, such as:

Consider also how to handle cross-border payments; using a specialist provider or obtaining a multi-currency account with USD bank details can ease the process of handling money across currencies.

Adapting to Life in the USA

Moving to the USA is more than just physically relocating; it’s a process of adapting to a new culture, healthcare system, and job market.

This part of the guide will navigate you through these aspects of life in the USA, making your adaptation to the new environment smoother.

Cultural Differences

In the USA, cultural norms can be quite different from those back in Ireland. For example, arriving early for arranged events is considered polite, contrasting with Ireland, where it may be seen as rude and intrusive on the host’s preparation time. So, don’t be surprised if you’re the first one to arrive at a social gathering!

Communication styles also differ in the two countries. Americans often speak more directly, exemplified by phrases like ‘I’ll have …’ when ordering food, whereas the Irish typically employ more polite expressions such as ‘Can I please have …’, reflecting a cultural tendency to avoid seeming demanding.

Healthcare System

Healthcare in the US is predominantly privatized, ensuring excellent standards of care and short waiting times in private hospitals. But, it is also expensive, making it crucial for expats to have international health insurance to avoid substantial medical bills.

The United States operates a hybrid healthcare system composed of both public and private healthcare providers, with no universal medical coverage in place. If you are not eligible for federal medical aid schemes, you have the option to purchase private health insurance or opt into an employer’s group benefits plan. Remember, medications can be costly, but health insurance can help mitigate these expenses.

Job Opportunities

The USA offers a diverse range of job opportunities. In-demand job sectors for Irish citizens include:

  • Software engineering
  • Science
  • Medicine
  • Health
  • Environmental protection
  • Community care
  • Computer industry

There is particularly high demand in healthcare, renewable energy, data science, IT, and information security.

Employment services and recruitment agencies in the USA assist with job placement. Some resources and organizations that can help with job placement in the USA include:

The US job application process typically involves submitting an American-style résumé and cover letter. Networking and volunteering are also essential for finding job opportunities in the USA.

Emigrating with Family

Emigrating with family requires careful planning and consideration. From obtaining a Green Card for your spouse to ensuring access to education for your children, this section will guide you through the key factors to consider when moving your family from Ireland to the USA.

Spousal Visas

If you’re married to an American citizen, you’re in luck! If an Irish citizen is married to an American citizen, they are automatically eligible to apply for a Green Card. This provides them with the opportunity to reside and work in the United States. This coveted status allows you to live and work permanently in the United States without needing further visas and permits.

Children’s Education

All children in the United States are entitled to enroll in public schools irrespective of their national origin, citizenship, or immigration status. School districts are prohibited from requesting documents that would unlawfully exclude or discourage the enrollment of undocumented students or students with undocumented parents. As a parent, you’ll need to provide proof of residency within the school district, such as utility bills or lease agreements.

While a birth certificate is not compulsory for school enrollment, and submitting a social security number is elective, they may still be requested for records. Certain states have enacted consent laws that enable relative caregivers to enroll children in school in the absence of formal guardianship or custody documents.

Older children may experience challenges with school enrollment, yet state legislation assures access to education until a specific age, with advocacy groups available to facilitate the enrollment process.

Long-term Considerations

Once you’ve settled into your new life in the USA, you may start considering long-term options such as obtaining a Green Card or applying for US citizenship. This part of the guide will walk you through these procedures, enabling you to comprehend the prerequisites and advantages of each.

Green Card Process

Individuals who hold a Green Card have the privilege of working and living in America without the need for additional visas or permits. This status is highly sought after for its many benefits. Eligibility for a Green Card is determined by a points-based system that considers qualifications, education level, work experience, and/or family ties to the U.S.

The process of obtaining a Green Card involves the following steps:

  1. Determine eligibility
  2. File the necessary petitions
  3. Wait for a decision
  4. Obtain a visa number
  5. Attend a consular interview
  6. Pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee
  7. Receive the Green Card

Government filing fees for a family-based Green Card are $1760 (approximately €1645) for applicants within the U.S. and $1200 (approximately €1120) for those outside the U.S., not including the cost of medical exams.

Each year, the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the Diversity Visa Lottery, provides another chance for approximately 160 Irish nationals to obtain a Green Card.

Applying for US Citizenship

After you’ve lived in the USA for a while, you might consider applying for US citizenship. To be eligible, you must demonstrate continuous residence, physical presence, and good moral character. This means you must have resided in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years as a permanent resident, or three years if you are married to an American.

The naturalization application process includes filing the FormN-400 and attending an interview. If residing outside the U.S., you will do so at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The cost to apply for U.S. citizenship is $725 (approximately €677), with $640 (approximately €597) for application processing and $85 (approximately €79) for biometrics. The general timeline for naturalization includes approximately 14 months for processing Form N-400 and biometrics, four months for interviews and exams, and 1.5 months for the Oath of Allegiance and receiving the naturalization certificate.


In conclusion, moving from Ireland to the USA is an exciting journey filled with opportunities. From understanding the visa options, preparing for the move, and adapting to life in the USA, to long-term considerations like obtaining a Green Card and US citizenship, this article has guided you through every step of the way. Remember, careful planning and preparation are the keys to a successful transition. Make the most of this adventure and embrace the land of opportunity that awaits you!

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