From Africa to the United States -Now You Know!

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 ‘Admire’ making is not in demand here.

Instead, learn:


-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.

Thanks in advance.

USAIG Attends “African Voices: DACA” at the City College of New York

Barely a year has passed since the arrival of the Trump administration into the White House, yet a myriad of issues have already ensued with the introduction of multiple unjust policies and legislation. But one of the most criticized policies passed by the administration would have to be the ending of DACA- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that protects undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. as children from deportation.

USAIG had the pleasure of attending African Voices: DACA, a panel hosted by the Black Studies Program at the City College of New York, featuring several guest speakers including Amaha Kassa from the non-profit organization African Communities Together. The speakers covered a variety of issues ranging from the DACA program and the effects of its removal on the African immigrant population, to the intersection of Black Lives Matter and issues affecting African Americans with the struggles that African immigrants face.

Asylum Procedure and Limitations

An individual seeking asylum applies directly to the United States government. U.S. law generally requires that an application for asylum be filed within one year of the person’s arrival in the United States, although there are very limited exceptions. In addition, there are dangers of applicants being held in detention while their request is being considered, if they have entered the United States illegally. Asylum applicants will receive work authorization after a certain period of time.

Eligibility of Family Members

In addition to the asylum applicant, immediate family members may also be eligible for asylee status, and will receive all of the benefits enjoyed by the applicant, provided that those family members were named in the asylum application. Family members do not need to be present in the United States when the application is filed.

Immigrant Parents, Don’t Be Afraid To Teach Your Children Your Native Language

In a Trump era, it is not surprising to see why immigrant parents would be reluctant to teach their children their native language. A country once commonly referred to as the ‘Land of Immigrants’, the rhetoric of hate and xenophobia surrounding the Trump Administration has demonized the diverse cultures and languages that immigrants have brought to this country.

Growing up in New York City meant that most of my friends had immigrant parents just like me. But there were also a few of them whose parents never spoke to them in their native language. Why? The reasons vary. One friend confided in me that their Ethiopian mother wanted them to assimilate as much as possible, which meant there was little to no Amharic spoken in their household.

My Ivorian mother, on the other hand, spoke to me in English and French but not her native Bambara. But who could blame her? To try and teach me a third language on top of being a single mom would have required far more free time than she had on her plate. So, she taught me what she thought would be more useful; after all, French IS the official language of many West African nations.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say there is a part of me that detests the fact that one of my only connections to back home is knowing the language of our colonizers. I envy children of African immigrants who can proudly speak their parents native language that isn’t English or French. In the quest for identity among many of us within the African diaspora, language is culture. And when coming across other children of African immigrant parents, I have always sensed a lurking feeling that I must overcompensate and prove my African-ness in other ways because of the fact that I don’t speak nor understand Bambara.

Which is why I think all African immigrant parents should put in effort to teach their children their native African language. It is definitely much harder for me to try and learn Bambara as an adult, and I crave and envy the ease at which children can naturally pick up languages. Although you might not think it will be useful for them to use in the outside world here in the U.S. or even Europe, your children will grow up to thank you for keeping them connected to their culture and ethnicity. Let’s not forget that spreading our native languages from back home is just one but absolutely necessary component to preserving our culture and identity as a community abroad.

Seven Ways to Get Jobs Quick upon Arrival

Seven Ways to Get Jobs Quick upon Arrival into the US

Amazing! You just arrived in the United States of America, ready to live the American dream. Your intention might be to live off your sponsors or get a job to support yourself. But whatever you may have had in mind before coming, getting a job is the best option – an indication that you don’t want to become a liability to anyone. Securing a job in a foreign country, no doubt, won’t be an easy task. Remember you are a foreigner and there would be competition from other job seekers too. But you can stand out and become the preferred candidate. What you need is the right information on how things work. So read the seven ways to secure jobs fast upon arrival into the US.

  • Be employable (What skill or qualification do you have?)

When you start planning your trip to the US, think of the skill you have or can develop that would enable you to secure a job. You can obtain a degree or learn something. You may decide to develop a skill even though you have a degree. There are many skills to learn; mechanic, fashion design, graphics design, plumbing, and carpentry. In fact, the list is inexhaustible. Just think of something that will make you employable. And build it up to the point where you stand out from the crowd.

The Donald Trump administration is tilting towards an era where highly skilled immigrants will be given more priority to work in the country. It seems like the president is on a mission to reduce the numbers of immigrants and those with no skill would be at the receiving end from the look of things.Most immigrants without skills end up taking menial jobs like the washing of plates, clothes, farming, and so on. So developing yourself before moving down to the US is the best decision.

  • Get Your Work Permit

It is against the law, no individual or company would want to hire someone in the United States of America without a work permit. So if you don’t have, then securing a job will almost be impossible.So your first target, when you get into the US, is to get your working permit ready. If you are not a citizen or lawful permanent resident, an Employment Authorization Document or working permit is a must-have. It tells your employer that you have right to work in the country. You can do your research to find out how to get it done.

  • Use your network

If you have friends and families in the USA, then you can use their influence to secure a job. They might have a contact at a company they can refer you to. Even if they don’t, ask them how to go about job hunting in your city of choice. They might have clues that would make things easier for you. If you are settling in New York City, here is an event you could attend to network and develop contacts  If you don’t have friends or family who abased in the USA, try making new friends through social media. You might be lucky to find immigrants from your home country who are documented. They might help connect you to a job.

USAIG get job support service is another great network to use. They connect immigrants to jobs and offer free screening to make them a good fit. Even if you don’t have a resume, US African Immigrants Gist can assist you to build one. You can submit your resume or fill up the form to get started.

  • Get Clues

There might be areas where the skill you possess is in high demand. And you don’t need to struggle that much to secure a job in such places. Keep tabs on the US labor market by reading the news and check job search directories. Is an area experiencing a sudden tech boom and you think you would excel in such a place? If yes, then that should be your destination. You can ask your friends and family living in the USA about areas where someone with your skill or qualification would thrive. If your trip has been slated to take place in 3 years time, ask yourself, what skill would be in high demand at that time? Think of a skill you can develop and take action.


  • Localize your documents

Your resume needs to be perfect and error free. There is going to be a high competition, especially when you are going for a professional job. You might be made to compete with the locals and other immigrants like you who came to the US to search for greener pastures. The words in your resume should match with the local language. For instance, if you are applying for USA jobs, change words like ‘recognise to ‘recognize.’ Edit your resume to eliminate spelling errors like the example stated. Additionally, you might be used to referring to resume as C.V. People in US will hardly understand what you are talking about. Your C.V from Africa is called ‘resume’, and most employer will expect that you have one.

  • Apply for jobs before moving

Though not everyone is successful at it, most people secure jobs abroad before traveling. They start applying before leaving their country. Ensure that your Skype skill is exceptional before applying. During the interview, you need to perform like you are having it physically. Remember that your written and oral communication skills must be above average. If not, then do something about it. Your proposed employers will test these skills during the interview. You will need to have excellent communication skills and experience when applying for professional jobs like customer relations and the others in this category.

  • Pick your dream city

Have a destination you want to base in mind. But if you don’t, then think of any city that you’ll become an asset in because of your skills. Will your background and skill attract potential employers? Will it set you apart from other job seekers? It would be great for you to find out the opportunity that lies in the city or state you plan to base. Find out from people who live there. For instance, if you are a fashion designer, New York is a place you would want to base in. You can design clothes for immigrants like yourself, even if you cannot compete with the fashion heavyweights in the city.

Wrapping it up

Think hard about  securing a job and starting your life as soon as  you arrive into the US. Even if you have friends or family you can depend on, it would be better if you have a job to take care of your expenses. Many immigrants in the US end with menial jobs partly because they didn’t get the right information before embarking on the journey. But these seven tips will help you nail a job faster as you arrive into the US.

World Refugee Day

As the world watches in terror as undocumented children are forced to separate from their families and held in detention camps along the U.S./Mexico border, pressure amounts from all sides for the Trump administration to end these inhuman ‘immigration centers’. Today, we honor World Refugee Day in honor of this crisis and the families affected by it. It is a gross injustice to forcibly separate families from children under the age of 13 who are especially vulnerable. The U.S. has long since ended traditional orphanages because of the backlash against inhumane institutional practices, but for some reason the government has decided that “detention camps” are not of the same cruel nature. The Trump Administration is quite literally tearing families apart and placing children in highly dangerous and vulnerable situations.

So on this day, USAIG stands in solidarity with the families who are being affected by the crisis. We plead with the world and the Trump Administration to end these brutal practices. The U.N. published a report today that stated there are currently over 69 million displaced refugees. This is a human rights crisis that the U.S. is complicit in perpetuating. And until we see change, USAIG will remain both a sanctuary and a community of support for refugees and immigrants. Make sure to like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram to stay updated on our work with the African immigrant community here in the U.S..

Popular Jobs Among African Immigrants

To survive it is a must to get a living. This is  regardless of whether one is a natural or native born in the US. There is a vast employment competition globally. Immigrants living in the U.S as well as native born strive hard to land a job to sustain life. It oftentimes sound like there is competition as native born Americans often charge that immigrants are taking away their jobs from them. What is now well documented is that immigrants go for education. When they can’t because they must work graveyard shifts or work round the clock to support families, they make sure that all their earnings and sweat go toward educating their children. These  children are the first generation immigrants who are well  prepared to  usher the family to the promised land of America dream. It works for many, and Google Co-Founder, Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin is one example.

But if education isn’t the sure way to get ahead in labor force, what it is? Through education, people develop critical knowledge and skills that will most likely become the basis in getting a better job opportunity. A quality education that is well researched before a student commits to it should not only be based on passion but also chosen from  employer demand driven data.  Although African immigrants tend to pursue education without giving much thought to  labor and occupational intelligence analysis, the truth is, as it has been well documented, African immigrants particularly the recently  arrived Sub –  Saharan Africans have higher rate in the labor force because of higher educational attainment.

In 2009, most men and women of the African immigrants are in the civilian labor force (either employed or looking for an employer) compared to those who were foreign born.

Take a look at the figures below:

  • 7% = African born men (16 and Older)
  • 2% = African born women
  • 0% = Foreign born men
  • 4% = Foreign born women

Meanwhile, African immigrants of both gender participate in the labor force compared to the native born men and women.

In the Year 2015, based on the MPI Tabulation of Data from the U.S Census Bureau, ages 16 and over of the Sub-Saharan immigrants were in the civilian labor force. That is 75% of the African migrants. Higher percentage compared to the 66% and 62% of the total number of population including foreign – and native – born.

African Immigrants in the U.S were employed in different fields based on their educational attainment, work experiences and acquired skills. Among the total foreign – born population, the Sub-Saharan Africans have higher employment in the fields of Management, Business, Science and Arts Occupation which is 38% and only 3% in Natural Resources, Construction and Maintenance Occupation. For Management Positions; 62% of South African immigrants and 53% of Nigerian immigrants get the opportunities. Somalia immigrants are at 37% in Production, Transportation and Material Moving occupation.

Percentage Rates of 10 Popular Jobs among African Immigrants in the U.S

  1. Management 38%
  2. Business, Science and Arts Occupation 38%
  3. Services Occupation 26%
  4. Sales and Office Occupations 18%
  5. Natural Resources 3%
  6. Construction 3%
  7. Maintenance Occupation 3%
  8. Production 15%
  9. Transportation 15%
  10. Material Moving Occupations 15%

African Immigrants in the U.S have a big contribution in the economy because they most likely participate in the labor force in different fields. Do you know other jobs that African immigrants tend to do, but not listed