A number of Fortune 500 companies operate out of cities including Irvine, Newport Beach and Santa Ana in Orange County. Irvine also has a reputation as a hub for start-ups and hosts a variety of Fortune 1000 company headquarters, amongst them a significant proportion of technology specialists. The County is also the Californian base of international giants including Samsung, Mazda and Toyota.
Despite this level of industry, the Orange County economy is still reliant on tourism. Coastal areas host tourists throughout the year and the Disneyland Park in Anaheim is the second busiest in the world.
The US work permit system is subject to change, so research is essential when you are applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). In many cases, your work permit is linked to your visa anyway. In general, all expatriates are legally obliged to obtain a work permit prior to employment in the US. Whilst exemptions for particular professions, such as the clergy, are not available, there are multiple employment categories for EAD applicants based on profession. The requirements and authorized periods of stay differ between categories.
If you want to travel to the U.S on a work visa, you will need to secure employment prior to applying. The job market in Orange County is diverse, with a number of international companies operating out of the area, and there are plenty of employment opportunities for a wide variety of skills and professions, as well as a wealth of work in the tourist industry for seasonal or temporary applicants.
Like US citizens, most immigrants are obliged to pay social security taxes, although exceptions do exist for citizens of countries with reciprocal agreements with the US. Deducted by your employer directly from the payroll, social security contributions entitle workers to a range of benefits, including pensions and financial support.
If you have any questions once you are working in Orange County, there are Social Security Administration (SSA) Offices in Aliso Viejo, Anaheim and Santa Ana which are available to provide support and information over the phone or by appointment. You can also find more detailed information on social security in the US in our dedicated article on this topic.
As with any professional change, it is important to tailor your job search in the US to your current skills and experience. Your employer is likely to have to justify your employment over the course of your visa application, so your hire should be relevant and beneficial to their enterprise. Job openings can be found on online job boards, industry publications, and through existing business contacts.
If you are set on living and working in Orange County and there is nothing suitable advertised, do not be afraid to approach potential employers directly. The level of start-up industry in Irvine, in particular, means that getting your name out there might well result in the kind of job opportunity that wouldn’t have been posted via international channels.