Help with transition to US for foreign fiance
November 21, 2016 1:18 PM   Subscribe

My fiance's K1 visa was approved, and he will be joining me in the US in mid December (yay!). We plan to get married shortly after his arrival, and apply for an adjustment of status so that he can work as soon as possible thereafter. I'm looking for suggestions of things I can have in place that will ease his transition before he's able to work, and also advice and ideas about handling somewhat unique financial circumstances.

In terms of things I want to have in place, I've thought of: cell phone, transportation (first using public transport while we work on his comfort in driving on the opposite side, and then a car for him), health insurance and medical care, things to do to avoid going stir crazy until he can work (art or other types of casual fun classes through the university informal classes program), access to money until he can work. What else would you suggest might be useful in helping him adjust and function in the US?

The access to money brings up the other part of my question. My fiance won't have much money of his own until he's working, and I want to make sure he has enough money to function until then. I make enough to support both of us in the meantime, but I've never handled budgeting with another person before, so I'm looking for any suggestions of how we can manage our finances together in a reasonable and responsible way. Even though I will be the only earner for a while, I consider the money to be "ours" rather than mine, and it's important to me that we communicate about needs and expectations as well as we can from the beginning. We typically work through issues well, so I'm not particularly worried about money discussions, but I know that finances can be challenging to couples in general, so I'd like to prepare as much as possible. I'm particularly interested in books or websites that address budgeting and financial planning and communication for couples/newly weds.
posted by odayoday to Work & Money (5 answers total)
You do have the option of filing an i765 (work authorization) as soon as he arrives in the US. K-1 are eligible to work with a i765. Depending on your marriage date, AOS could take (days after arriving in US until your marriage + 60-90-120-whatever days processing) or more, and i765 is probably 30-45 days ish. So if he wants to work earlier, you might save a month or two (depending on AOS timing) by doing that. OTOH, i765 costs $380 to file.

My wife came in on K-1 2 years ago, we did not go that route as she did not plan to work anytime soon. It took 6 months from arrival to AOS, and we got married after 2 weeks. So for us the AOS wait was about 5 months.

One thing to think about is emergencies --- explain how to react/handle various things (medical emergency, natural disasters, what numbers to call, etc). Depending on what country he's from things may be very different here and thats good stuff to know in advance (my wife is from Japan, and the way we handle earthquakes in CA is very different than there, for example). This is good stuff to explain before or on arrival.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:54 PM on November 21, 2016

When my husband first came to the US and moved in with me, we had similar financial circumstances. I'm sort of sloppy about my bill paying and recordkeeping, and he's quite diligent, so he ended up taking over care and feeding of the household bills. He'd review them, organize them, and even write the checks. I would then sign everything and he'd send them out. This was an extremely valuable contribution to the household, and got us aligned on how we were handling financial matters (and has persisted to this day, 18 years later, though now we have a joint checking account).

I ended up on the other side of the equation when we relocated a couple of years ago to his home country, and after years and years of working it was nice to have an enforced bit of a break. By then we had kids, so I used the time to be a stay at home parent, but I also used it to get involved with some volunteer work, make new friends, and get to know my new city in a leisurely way. It's a nice chance for your fiance to settle in and for both of you to adjust to living together!
posted by gateau at 3:59 PM on November 21, 2016

Where is he from? Does he speak English well? Is there a strong presence of people from his home country in your location? Is he interested in/capable of volunteering or joining meetups to begin forming his own social network in your location? Will he want to find people who speak his own language?

You should plan to do grocery shopping together for the first month or so - both as a 'this is the brand of x I like' learning time, and because groceries are always subtly different in different countries.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:38 PM on November 21, 2016

When my ex went through this, we planned his arrival flight through JFK specifically because they are known to stamp work authorisation (90 days). They did stamp it, though he didn't end up using it.

Expect that things will be difficult for quite some time. Particularly if the culture where you are differs from his home culture. Memail me if you want to hear more of my personal (not successful) experience. I definitely learned a lot and would do a lot of things differently.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:06 PM on November 21, 2016

I just want to say this is wonderful for you to be thinking about. I just about went crazy waiting for my AOS and while my husband was great about encouraging me to do things, not earning any money made me extremely leery of spending any money, despite his encouragement. A bus pass and schedule (or similar), perhaps a Lonely Planet guide to your city, seeing if there is a community of ex-pats from his home country....all of those would help. Also movies filmed and/or set in his home country or even better town....believe me, I was so homesick (moving Toronto to Texas) that David Cronenberg movies and Project Grizzly made me cry because *sob* there's the Science Centre and *cry* there's a Country Style Donuts...

Just be prepared, as has been said, for things to be weird and fraught for a while. I say all the time (14+ years on) that we were spared many of the ravages of early marriage stress because my homesickness and culture shock more than outweighed any marriage stress we could have had. Be patient, he may not be back to being himself for a while.
posted by biscotti at 12:48 PM on November 22, 2016

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