There are a lot of documents and legal papers that immigrants need to keep track of when coming to America, but once they are here, the need for documentation isn’t over. From drivers’ licenses to insurance and work permits, there are plenty of legal documents that immigrants will need to have on hand.
This article will go through various work permits and papers as well as the ins and outs of U.S. car insurance for foreigners. By the end, you will know what legal documents and licenses you need to prioritize getting once you arrive in the U.S.
Get Your Green Card
If you want to live and work permanently in the U.S., you will need to prioritize getting your green card.
First, you will need to find out if you are eligible by looking at the eligibility categories. Then, you will need to file Form I-485 and provide supporting documents and fees (listed in the form). Finally, you have an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If your current card expired or is going to expire within six months, you should get it renewed. You can check your case status online at USCIS.gov.
Find the Right Tax Documents
While immigration law differentiates between immigrants, nonimmigrants, and undocumented aliens, tax law only differentiates between resident and nonresident aliens.
Resident aliens are generally taxed the same way that U.S. citizens are. Nonresident aliens have to follow some specific tax rules in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
It is extremely important to pay taxes properly so you don’t get convicted of tax fraud. A tax fraud defendant may be deported if they are not a U.S. citizen.
You will also have to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign bank and securities accounts, through the schedule B attachment form.
Non-U.S. citizens should review Publication 519, which helps you determine your filing status. Publication 54 contains special tax rules for resident aliens who work abroad or earn income from a foreign country. If it’s your first year in America, you may have to file taxes for your previous job at home.
Nonresident immigrants are generally taxed on their U.S. source income only and may qualify for tax relief through a tax treaty benefit. Resident aliens do not qualify for this benefit and are taxed on their worldwide income.
The tax documents you will most likely need to file include:
- 1040-ES Estimated Tax for Individuals
- 1040-X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
- 2350 Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return
- 2555 Foreign Earned Income
- 4868 Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
- 8822 Change of Address
Though the specifics may vary, so be sure to use Publication 519 to discover your filing status and refer to the IRS website for more information. You can also contact a tax attorney for help.
Prioritize Your Driver’s License
If you drive in the U.S., you will need a valid driver’s license, even if you aren’t a citizen. Fifteen states will allow those who are not citizens to get a drivers’ license, while others require you to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a license from your own country. You would have needed to get the IDP and home country license before coming to America.
The states that allow anyone to get a license regardless of whether they are a legal citizen include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
Check your state’s requirements to see what you need to bring with you to get a license. Not all of them require proof of residency. You can drive anywhere in the United States if you have a license from one of the states.
Find Proper Auto Insurance Coverage
In addition to a driver’s license, immigrants will also need auto insurance to be legally allowed to drive their own car in the U.S. like citizens do. While getting insurance as a non-citizen can be difficult, it is nonetheless possible if you have your driver’s license or IDP.
Many companies will require a state-issued driver’s license before issuing an insurance policy. Others will charge higher rates to immigrants than they would to citizens.
Currently, Farmers and Progressive both offer auto insurance policies to those with international licenses. There are also some companies like Bristol West and Kemper that will insure foreign drivers. Be sure to compare several quotes to get the best coverage.
Compare at least three companies, and check to make sure that the companies you are seeking quotes from are licensed in the state you will be in. Start with your basic liability insurance needs and go up from there. You can choose to get a temporary auto insurance plan if you are staying for a shorter amount of time.
Learn About Business Licenses
Knowing what you can and can’t do regarding business licenses can be tricky, especially if you happen to be an undocumented immigrant. Many business owners start businesses anyway, and U.S. immigration law does not bar undocumented immigrants from owning a business, though employing an undocumented worker is illegal.
Immigrant investors may be able to get an EB-5 Visa and use the existing visa system to declare their immigration status. If you have a business that is less than a year old and has less than four employees, or if you are moving here to start a business, you will need the E-2 visa.
Business owners need to register their businesses in a specific state. Some states like Delaware have flexible rules for corporate structures and entities and do not require a bank account or local address. Then, they need to fill out a certificate of incorporation.
Certain states like New York have very specific requirements for certain types of businesses, such as pharmacies or barber shops. Look into state-specific requirements for your business type.
You will also need to get an Employer Identification Number for tax purposes and get a business license and bank account. Consider talking to a financial advisor or immigration business advisor for help.
Deborah writes and researches about immigration and insurance for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceComparison.com.