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Ask HN: Immigrate from EU to US?
31 points by eu_moron 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments
How do I immigrate from EU to US ? How difficult is it with changes in US immigration policy ? My general opinion has been that the EU barring Sweden is mostly a blip when it comes to innovation in software. I snapped after today's copyright law. So how do I immigrate ? I dont care if Trump is president, the American economy and innovation seems to be doing just fine. Any suggestions on how to get out of this hot mess ?





I’ve done this. It was the worst decision I’ve ever made. Looking to get out ASAP.

Turns out there’s more to life than tech, and you can tech anywhere.


Lol, love the bluntness. Not surprised as an American who got out. Would love to hear more.

I see. Could you elaborate ?

60h is common standard in US, if you are just doing 40h you are being lazy.

Most companies offer 1 week vacation.

Maternity leave is a foreign word to many companies.

Some have a no limit vacation, but the work culture is such that even less people actually take vacations.

Then you get to be tied up to the company regarding healthcare.

Unions in IT, which exist is a couple of European countries, are seen like persona non grata.

There are lots of wonderful things in US, work conditions in tech not necessarily.


The amount of anti-American FUD on HN lately is getting absurd.

60h isn't just not common, it's basically non-existent. In my 15 year career across multiple companies in multiple cities and states the average I've witnessed is 35-42 hours a week. If you subtract lunch, coffee breaks, surfing the web it's probably around 25-30 hours of work a week.

Vacation time typically starts at 2 weeks for entry-level workers(plus another 2 weeks of sick/personal time plus another 10-15 holidays) and increases to 4-5 weeks (or 'unlimited') for people with more than a few years experience.

The average software engineer will pay a trivial percent of their salary in health insurance premiums.

If you're stocking shelves or working a cash register or cleaning toilets you're probably better off in the EU than in the US. But if you're a software developer, your quality of life is obviously going to be far higher in the US.


Disagree on vacation. Just scan Stackoverflow jobs. Most places cap out at 4 weeks and that's after 10 years.

In a lot of the EU you start with 4/5 weeks rising to 6-8.

Also for some bizarre reason Canada has chosen to replicate America's awful vacation policies. Only difference is there is a min of 2 weeks. US has no min.


As a european married to an american and possibly looking to move to the States, thank you. You give me hope again.

How many places have you worked? 60h is not the standard in my experience. I've never worked 60h. People I know that worked what I considered crappy jobs did on occasion. Vacation and maternity leave are bad, but plenty of us companies offer more like 2-4 weeks. Saying that "most companies offer 1 week vacation is just wrong. As always, it depends what you do and where you work.

Lots of places scattared around Europe.

That is what I get as feedback from American expats over here.


So where do the expats work that they have such terrible experiences?

No idea, I don't recall names of companies, just experiences told at some Meetup or Internations event telling why they decided to move over here.

I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to work in the US, Canada and the UK as a programmer and I've personally never worked anywhere with 60 hour weeks. Assuming they're not coming in on the weekend, that's 12 hours a day, like 9 am to 9pm everyday. Just haven't seen it. Even if someone does it, they can't be working, it's just not possible, after 5-7 hours I am mentally exhausted. They may be in a seat but they're not being productive. I actually do happen to work 60 hour weeks but only 40 or so for the employer. A few hours break after work and then hitting the code again on personal projects, and on the weekend is possible while remaining motivated.

Yup, we have toxic workplace values in the US. Shitty vacation, that you have "earn" through decades of "service", and don't dare too take too much all at once. People outside of the corporate office workplace have it way worse. That said, this is a massive exaggeration. Seven days is shit, even in the US, for an engineer or programmer. They might ask you to stay late from time to time or come in on the weekend, and I'm not saying it's okay, but most Americans don't do that every week. Sorry, if you've had shitty jobs.

For all of these reasons I chose to "work for myself" (product design consulting) nearly four years ago and haven't looked back since. I work very hard, but am able to create for myself a career and work/life balance that no other company could ever provide - my own.

Friend, you just need to get a better job.

From all I've read online, especially HN, that won't help.

Not OP but I have been 2 years in the US. There are many great things in the US, I had a wonderful time, but I'd never swap EU for it. Just two points: vacation time and health insurance. Especially if you are older and/or with kids I'm very thankful to be in the EU.

To be blunt, I don't think you'll find what you're looking for without thinking a bit more about why you feel this way.

What's the problem with your current situation? Is it that your salary is too low? Lack of interesting opportunities? Small development community?

The US tech industry is interesting for a number of reasons, but it's not without it's problems. There are way more companies, higher salaries and more innovation generally. But working conditions can be worse, even at large employers. Housing can be expensive. Healthcare!

There are lots of places in EU countries that are doing interesting things in tech. They don't have quite the same glitz and glamour of FAANG, but you might find something that makes you happy closer to home.

(Disclaimer: I personally am planning to move to the US, but only because my fiancé is a citizen and his family is there. But even having that easy path through immigration does not make the conclusion at all obvious.)


- Easier path is to applying for a job in EU for Google/Facebook/whathaveyou, and then transferring on L1. Google has offices in zurich, london, frankfurt, dublin, etc.

- If you have phd in a related field, you might even apply for immigration right away (don't quote me on that).

- Diversity greencard is coming up, you might want to try your chances (but it's a low one).


Sadly I dont have a phd. I guess I'll take option 1. Thanks !

If you have a strong skill set, just send resumes out to medium/large tech companies in the US. If it clicks, they might phone interview and possibly bring you in for an interview. Often times companies are desperate for good candidates that they will sponsor the paperwork for a H1B visa. My previous employer did this for two candidates and they turned out very good. Make sure the employer pays for all expenses for the legal stuff. They should also agree to moving expenses.

One option i didn't mention is applying for jobs in US locations, but that's hard, has too much demand and happens at specific time of the year.

Another one is coming here as a student, but that's expensive.

Option one is probably the one you'd have the most luck, besides marrying an american obviously.

If you don't mind me asking, how old are you? It is easier to take some decisions in life when you are younger. similarly and more importantly, it's easier to deal with your decisions' consequences.


Granted that you are not a refugee, what about staying where you are and putting up a fight?

Vote a party who supports freedom of speech and spread the word about why this is important in your country/constituency and so forth?

If this law enhance political and corporate power, I assure you that most likely will be adopted elsewhere in some form or another.


Its not the politicians I am worried about. Sadly its the people. No one here protested. With Mozilla's campaigning nothing happened. To stop the law previously Wikipedia had to shutdown. Seems folks here dont really care.

Is moving to Trumpland really the solution?

Hi, Can you elaborate on your desire to leave the EU(/EZ) altogether?

From the data I've seen, an increasing number of Americans are actually leaving the U.S and/or giving up citizenship. The reasons seem to range from tax policy to cost of living/quality of living to 'other'.

In aggregate, the economy may look good, but for many individuals things are actually pretty tough. Even those who aren't all that affected by such problems (think journalist writing uber-positive stories about America's "robust economy", politicians, banking officials, etc.,) will acknowledge this albeit mostly in private settings.

Anyway, rather than leave, wouldn't it just be easier to employ some sort of strategic corporate structuring?


Most of your post focuses on attacking the US, rather than actually answering the parent's question. I understand why you and others in this thread are choosing to do that, however it's still inappropriate.

> From the data I've seen, an increasing number of Americans are actually leaving the U.S and/or giving up citizenship.

2017: "Renunciations [of citizenship] for the year fell 5.1 percent, to 5,133"

So far in 2018, that is down another 8% to 10% on an annualized basis.

While the number has climbed over the years, out of ~245 million adults, a mere 5,133 renounced their citizenship last year. A rate near one in 50,000. In a city the size of San Francisco, 17 people will renounce their citizenship in a given year. A trivial figure.

> In aggregate, the economy may look good, but for many individuals things are actually pretty tough.

> will acknowledge this albeit mostly in private settings.

That's an entirely empty claim. You didn't actually say anything or provide figures. The US economy is in fact every bit as robust as it appears to be. Manufacturing is booming like it hasn't in decades, with persistent employment gains that haven't been seen in 25 years. Wage growth is at a decade high and heading higher.

- The median personal and household incomes are both at new all-time highs on an inflation adjusted basis.

- US household balance sheets are in great shape. Debt service payments as a share of disposable income remain near 40 year lows. The household debt to income ratio is back to pre housing bubble levels, roughly 2003 levels. US households considerably deleveraged, while most other wealthy developed nations have done the exact opposite.

- The U6 unemployment rate is below where it was in 1999 (and far lower than eg 1997), and nearly matches the lowest figure put in during that economic boom. It's still heading lower yet.

- Business investment is booming. The percentage of businesses planning to invest into expansion is scoring at multi-decade highs. S&P 500 capex spending has also jumped dramatically.

- Productivity grew at a solid 2.9% in the second quarter. The fastest rate in three years. You need good productivity figures to sustain wage expansion.

- Consumer confidence is near 20 year highs. It was last this high during the peak of the late 1990s boom.

- Small business confidence is at multi-decade highs.

- Jobless claims are near 50 year lows. You have to go back to 1969 to see these absolute jobless claims figures - the US population was 1/3 smaller then.

- The number of people without health insurance is at record lows. Homelessness is at/near record lows. The poverty rate is at a low level only reached during two brief periods in the last 60 years.

- The gap between the number of jobs available vs the number of people actively seeking a job is at a positive multi-decade high and increasing.

- GDP growth will clock in over 3% in 2018 for the first time (on an annual basis) since 2005.

- Corporate profits for all business sizes are at all-time highs.

- The stock market is at all-time highs.

- Household wealth is at an all-time record high. 100% higher than 2004, at $101 trillion. The US median household net wealth figure, despite taking a hit in the great recession, is still higher than in either Sweden or Germany.

- The best forecasters, people like Ray Dalio (whose firm spotted the great recession far earlier than most), see several more years of expansion left in the tank yet.


Dear adventured: I believe I asked the parent a pair of clarifying questions.

I'm not sure why you view mentioning that there are those who also decide to leave the parent's (possible) target destination as "attacking the US," but okay(?)

Re: and 'my' "empty claim" and your statistical screed-- 1) I noticed you excised my source 'references', which is fine, I guess;

2; your list doesn't actually address the crux of the claim;

3) I think it helpful to think about how the stats are derived and what they actually measure;

4) here's a recent article from "the failing New York Times" on some of those stats you provided [1];

5) and another on the "recovery"[2], most of the commenters don't appear to share your sanguineness, but they're probably Russian bots or something;

6) I remind you that the stock market is neither the economy nor directly relevant to much of the US population;

7) you're probably right about GDP growth [FTR, I was one of few who argued, to seasoned economists, that Trump's targets were easily doable when they steadfastly argued otherwise], but I refer you back to article [1];

8) having already addressed your "renunciation" data in an unrelated HN post, I won't do it again; finally,

9) your econ stats are, pretty much, about the aggregate, which in my initial post, I acknowledged "look good";

10) even if everything that you've stated is absolutely correct, it doesn't explain, for me, why the OP wants to take such a drastic step, which was what my post was actually about*.

All the best...

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/opinion/columnists/great-...

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/business/middle-class-fin...


American dream is long dead. Paradise is here in Europe :)

Each year approximately 140,000 visa are made available for immigrant seeking employees. These E visas are divided into four classes. The H1B visas that are common in tech are non-immigrant visas. You cannot use them to resettle in the US. For immigrant employees, workers must first get DOL approval after an "extensive and unsuccessful" attempt to recruit domestically--this is more rigorous than what employers have to do to bring in an H1B visiting worker.

Best case scenario, you qualify as an E1: that requires that you have "extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise," in which case no job offer is needed, OR you are an "outstanding professor or researcher" w/ intl. recognition, OR you are a "multinational manager or exec" with at least one year employment at an overseas branch of a US company.

Second best is E2, for which you must have a graduate degree or a bachelor's and 5+ years professional experience OR have exceptional ability ("having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business"). This requires a job offer cleared by DOL, or you can apply for a National Interest Waiver which allows you to enter without a job lined up.

If you don't have a graduate degree of 5+ yrs experience, you are relegated to the E3 category. The E4 category is not applicable to tech jobs. The E5 category is an option if you have US$ 1mil (or half that in certain depressed areas) to invest and you are willing to commit to creating 10+ jobs for US persons in 2 years.

So in most cases, your employer must attempt to find domestic candidates, not be successful, file ETA 9089 with the DOL to get a Permanent Labor Certification, and then file I-140 with USCIS. If approved, you must continue the process with the National Visa Center. Your immediate family can come with you. You must bring various documents and medical certifications to your US Embassy for an interview. Then, you would be issued an E class immigrant visa which you take to the US border and request admission to the country. After paying fees, you will receive an SSN card and your I-551 green card, making you a "lawful permanent resident" of the US.


My suggestion is to not immigrate permanently i.e. going for green card/citizenship. Be in US, enjoy higher salaries, network with like minded individuals and than come back to EU and get the best of both the worlds.

Get a job as a manager at a multinational with ops in the US and EU. After a year or more get transferred to the US on an L1A then soon after apply for a green card.

Look, I think the grass is always greener on the other side. Whether you think you can ignore Trump or not, the fact is immigration into the US is hard. It was hard before and it's probably harder now given the current administration's views on migrants.

I moved to the US back in the 2000's and it took me years, I finally was lucky enough to find a contact at a university to sponsor a H1B. That now seems virtually impossible to get unless you work for one of those giant Indian IT companies.

Also, you might be increasingly frustrated with the state of the EU, but it ain't all roses in the US. I for one, value highly the social safety nets other countries provide. Without being incendiary, things like getting healthcare in the US isn't so straightforward.

We get that the US is still streaks ahead when it comes to innovation and capitalism. But there's so many other considerations important to gauging one's quality of life.

In the end, is living in the EU really a hot mess? What about a different part of the EU?


I imagine it's not uncommon to retire early as an engineer in the US, while it's not really a thing in EU (with some exceptions, like doing years of contracting in hot markets). The pay is just low and the taxes are high, sometimes ridiculously high (ex. in Belgium you pay 45% income tax for income above 20k euros...).

Thats the thing. I dont think I want to put years of my life just to immigrate to US. Earlier it was less difficult ( surely not easy ). But nothing of interest happens here. Everybody just wants to preserve the old (old businesses, old ways of thiking) and people are more keen on justifying why what they do is good (and better than US ). For example in Germany people are peoud of their paperwork.

I don't think this is correct. I'm a serial entrepreneur and innovation is something that Germany does on a regular day to day basis.

Why don't you just create your own company in a field you like? In the EU it's easy to do so and there are hundreds of accelerator programs that help doing so.

Innovation is nothing US exclusive. For example, just look how many Israel companies provide innovative products to the US tech companies.


I think you're right. I didnt consider that.

Check out some Eastern European countries. Romania, Estonia, Czech, are very capitalist, business minded, tech driven. Actually, there is a great pool of Libertarians across the region.

If it weren't for Brexit, the UK would make a great choice.

Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, are also decent options.


I had a lovely time interning at a Swedish company in Sweden, but not having Swedish EU citizenship made the company want to hire me at their US facility. Maybe we could trade identities?

I see. At this point I would actually love to hear a few positive stories. Do elaborate on your experience if you can.

I interned at Volvo and it was a very positive experience. Sweden has a very different work culture. And I learned a lot.



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