The USA at a Glance
The USA: Job Search and Social SecurityFotolia
Finding work in the US can be difficult without a valid visa.
Getting a Job
Getting a job in the US can be difficult for people who don´t already have a visa and work permit, as the costs involved in submitting visa applications for international workers are high for prospective employers. It is illegal to come to the US on a tourist visa in order to look for work, as working visas must always be applied for in the employee´s home country.
People who are looking for a job in the USA from abroad should check the online job market of the biggest US newspapers: The New York Times or the International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and The Washington Post. Online job portals and job search tools are plentiful, providing a valuable resource.
However, only one third of all jobs in the US are openly advertised. Thus, unsolicited applications play a much more important role in the US job market than, for example, in many European countries. When it comes to writing unsolicited applications for a foreign country, it is important to know where to look and what to look for.
As a first step, it might be worth checking the Occupational Outlook Handbook provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This will give you a good overview of different occupations and the US labor market in general. Your country´s US chamber of commerce should be able to provide a list of companies from your country with branches in the US. Alternatively, check Guidestar for company details of non-profit organizations.
Everyone working in the US needs a social security card showing their individual social security number. Immigrants can request one when they apply for their visa. Non-immigrants can file their application online ten days after their arrival in the US.
Please refer to the information on getting a Social Security Number for Noncitizens on the US Social Security Agency´s website for further research. Social security in the US consists of retirement benefits plus survivors and disability insurance. It is financed with a 6.2 % contribution from every employee´s salary.
People who are 67 years or older and have paid social security contributions for at least five years qualify for a state pension. Eligibility depends on the duration of their social security contributions and the amount of money they have contributed.
Usually, retirement benefits are not sufficient to keep up the previous standard of living. Therefore most people either make individual retirement arrangements (some of which are eligible for support from the government), or they pay into a company pension fund provided by their employer.
These funds are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Social Security Agreements
The US maintains international social security agreements with the following countries:
- the Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
- South Korea
- the United Kingdom
These agreements usually regulate the handling of pension contributions between the countries in question, and can differ from country to country. A detailed explanation of every country´s individual social security agreement can be found on a dedicated website of the US Social Security Agency.
Such an agreement might, for example, state that expats on assignments lasting less than 60 months can be exempted from US pension contributions if they continue paying national insurance in their home country.