United States

Relocating your employees to the United States

The United States is one of the most popular expat destinations in the world, beaten only by Australia. But, sending your employees to work in this country can be rather complex and time consuming. In order for your workers to live ‘The American Dream’, you will have to arrange many things. Start preparing the relocation in time and make sure that everything is arranged properly for your employees and their families. In this article we give you the most important information to get started.

Immigration requirements

The visa and immigration processes and rules in the United States are some of the most complex in the world. The most important thing to keep in mind is therefore to start the application in time. Visa request procedures can take over a year.

In general, the visa application is much easier when your company is already located in the United States. In this case, the expat can qualify for a L-1 visa. This visa is for intracompany transferees (specifically executives, managers or employees with a specialized knowledge) who are being relocated in order to further expand the business activities of the company in the United States. L-1 visas are issued for an initial 1 or 3 years and can be extended to a maximum of 5 to 7 years. To apply, the employee must have worked for the transferring employee (outside the US) for at least one year in the last three years.

Other possible visas to apply for are the E-1 visa (for employees of foreign countries engaging in substantial trade with the US) and the E-2 visa (investor visa for employees that are coming to the US to direct and develop enterprises).

What about the employee’s spouse and children?

Dependents of the employee are, in general, not allowed to work in the United States, unless they can qualify for a type of visa. However, they can engage in a study and schooling. Spouse and children automatically get a derivative visa at the same time as the main visa holder.

Relocation management

Housing and schooling

Finding housing and schooling is not difficult in the United States. The family can choose for a public school for their children, though there are many private and international schools in the bigger cities. However, this requires another budget. Make sure you have a good conversation with your employee about their preferences in prior to their emigration.

For expats, it is likely to choose for a rental house instead of buying a house. Since the time in the United States is limited, this is the most suitable option. Rental houses in the United States are common and easy to find in the bigger cities. Agreements are generally on a six-month or one-year basis, depending on your situation.

Travelling to the United States can be expensive and time consuming. Most expats do not have the time or financial resources to go house and school finding prior to their move. However, they want to make the right choices for their families. Therefore, a suggestion is to rent an Air-BnB for the first month in the new country and start house and school hunting with a professional relocation consultant right after the arrival.

Other points of attention

The United States have their own rules and regulations for workers. Some of them are also important when one of your employees start working in this country. For example, paid vacation is not guaranteed across most workplaces, as one of the only nations in the developed world. Also, the healthcare system differs from the most European systems. Healthcare is in most cases paid by the employer.

Relocating employees to the United States

Costs of relocating employees to the US

Relocating your employees to the United States can be pricy, depending on your situation. The costs of relocating an employee to the United States consists of:

Visa costs

The average visa application for the above-mentioned visas will cost around $500 for the application itself. However, costs will rise when you hire a lawyer or expert to assist you with the complicated processes.

Shipment costs

The move itself will be a large part of the total costs of the relocation. Shipping furniture and belongings cost somewhere between $1.000 and $10.000, depending on:

  • Type of transportation (transportation by road is usually the cheapest option, however moving overseas requires more expensive sea or air freight)
  • The amount of m3 that needs to be transported
  • The distance of the movement
  • The destination port (customs duties will vary)
  • Time of the year (peak-season vs. low-season)

Costs will also depend on the type of products that need to be moved. For example, transporting and importing a car or vehicle is expensive. Add another $700 to $4.000 to your budget when a vehicle needs to be moved as well.


Make sure your employee starts the adventure as relaxed as possible by providing them packing services. On average, this will cost you $150 for a 20ft container of goods.


Better safe than sorry! A good insurance is essential for international moves. Normally, prices differ between 0.6% and 4% of the total value of the goods. An average three-bedroom house or apartment has a value of $50.000. insurance costs somewhere between $300 and $2000.

Flight tickets

The prices of flight tickets to the United States differ per day of travelling, whether it is a direct flight or with a stopover, port of arrival and destination and how far in advanced it is booked. Compare flight prices online of different companies to get the best prices.

Costs of living in the US

The costs of living in the US are quite high. However, it is comparable to other Western and developed countries. The United States have the 20th place on the ‘Most expensive countries to live’ list. However, prices differ between states and cities. Salaries need to be adopted to the state and city standards. The US Federal Reserve has a calculator that maps salaries to the cost of living in different states. For example, an annual salary of $50.000 in Missouri is the same as an annual salary of $70.000 in San Francisco.

Most of the salary will go to housing. Housing is, in comparison to Europe and Australia, quite expensive in the United States. In contrast, costs of transportation are lower as in those other countries.

Find your company a professional relocator

A good start is half the work. Find yourself a professional relocation and international moving company to help you with everything related to the relocation. At Voerman International, we are happy to assist you with our move management and relocation management services.

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