People relocate from Africa to the United States for many reasons. Among us are educated professionals looking for an economy that would pay more for our worth. Some of us, for a long list of reasons, travel down with no formal education. Any escape from the ill fate associated with illiteracy is oftentimes a good escape. In between is everyone else including those that leave to escape violence in their native African countries, those that come for a better education, and those that stop by briefly for a visit that somehow turned to a stay.
Like other immigrant groups, African immigrants in the US come to explore and/or seek better lives. It’s a difficult journey, however, especially if there is a lack of adequate preparation. Well, actually some of us prepare, but if our preparation is based on misleading information, things could go wrong all the way. Which one is better, a poor information or no information at all? (Leave your answer below).
Here are some points to consider:
1. Basic education such as a high school diploma from your home country is important. Do all your best to get that if you can.
2. If no education, learn a trade and know it well. Okay, I advise caution here because when you are planning to travel to the US, a variety of ‘good’ advice will start to roll in. Please don’t go learn Tie and Dye, (trust me, I did), as you’ll be wasting your money, time and resources. Individuals aren’t allowed to work with chemicals like that here without applying for licenses. Applying for these licenses won’t justify the cost at all. If you insist to get the license regardless, I’m happy to advise that ‘Adire’ making is not in demand here.
-auto mechanic (with a comfort level to service and repair major American cars and other brands that are in demand by American market),
-Tailoring/fashion design (better to upgrade your sewing and design skill to suit American taste and fashion. If not; no worries. You could always cut and sew for our people in the community).
-Hair braiding (there are lots of our people doing this in all major American cities, so if you are planning to make it a career, you’ve got to come with an ‘A’ game with it).
-Graphic design and architectural skills (again, think global when learning this as some of the jobs in this area are now been outsourced).
Please know that the list here is not exhaustive. Do your research.
3. If you are a family woman, or had just tied the knot, don’t bring pregnancy unless you have other reasons apart from settling down. Your first 3 years will be to hustle to learn English language (if applicable), get a job, get a comfortable place to live, pay your bills, send money home, etc. Having to work childcare into these aforementioned priorities would complicate your life. Ignore this point if you have physical, financial, and emotional support from families back home and in the US.
4. If you are well off in Africa, don’t sell your business or property unless you need to. You might discover that you are actually worse off living in America and might want to go back. Instead, leave them in the care of your most trusted confidant. Make up your mind in about a year and act accordingly.
5. It’s good to bring a gift along for your host family, but the best gift they’d appreciate the most, but won’t tell you, is to get yourself set up on time and get your own place. So make this your goal. If moving out is dragging for whatever reasons, insist on joining them to pay some living expenses or house-operating bill for the place you are both staying.
6. It’s better to get a job offer in the US before you actually move down, so make this effort. You may be one of the lucky few. This would help you avoid the common fate of many African immigrants here. Everyone of us-regardless of how educated and skilled we are –always have to start with menial jobs that are laborious, unsafe, and generally pay less. Jobs such as security guards, taxi /cab driver, personal patient care (the ones in nursing homes pay better, but are hard to get without any proven experience in the field.), etc. The more financially responsible you are for other people, the more are your odds of turning these jobs down when you find them. If you had just arrived from Africa and believe you have skills that could get you better jobs and better pay than the aforementioned, please check out this website: or email your resume to me at: victorialolani@gmail.
7. Within your first 2 weeks of arrivals, you should either be getting mails guiding you on which office to go to process your relevant immigration paperwork, or you should be going to various government offices in that city to apply for them. Please take this seriously. Go on time, do the paperwork and keep your documents in a safe place. You could hardly get a job without those documents.
8. If you come to visit or school, and quickly fall in love with this place, thus would like to stay, you must stop by an immigration lawyer ASAP to be advised on steps you could take to convert your status. Failure to do this on time might hurt you later on. If you think seeing lawyer costs money, think what it WILL cost you later.
9. Regardless of what job you start from, keep a focus to get a career. Learn new skills; go back to school if you can, and network, network, network. If you can, read my previous posts for relevant suggestions and support.
Welcome to US, and good luck!
Have you been in the US for a while? If so could you relate to any of the points above? What did you do that we could learn from? Please share by clicking the comment button.