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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I'm a US Citizen living overseas, lived in Korea and now the Netherlands over the past 8 years. Masters degree comes from Korea, and currently working at an American Fortune 100 company at one of their HQ in Europe for around 3 years. My only professional work experience is from overseas, and I've never worked in the US or had an adult life there.

Due to various personal circumstances, my wife (non-US Citizen) and I may be looking to finally go to the US (again for me, first time for her). Naturally, I have some concerns and was hoping to hear some advice from anyone on here who is familiar with repatriating. FYI before anyone asks, I have kept up on my Tax returns while living abroad + FBARs so i'm clear there, and my wife has already an approved i-130 petition that we did in advance in 2019 and so she's roughly halfway through the IR-1 visa application steps already + i've kept enough proof of domicile / re-establishing domicile along with my mother as a joint sponsor for this, so I have no concerns with the spouse visa.

My biggest concerns:
1. How does one deal with the lack of US references - such as when getting an apartment to rent? All of my references/landlords/etc are abroad and non-American. Is renting an apartment back in the US really that strict when I've never had an adult life there so far?
2. Any tips for lining up a US job before moving back? I thought with my experience and education level + 'unique' international background that it would open lots of opportunities, but I'm finding that I just get ghosted because I'm maybe too different, and too abnormal for them? Most companies seem to just want to hire inside their city locally. I've always been pretty strong at writing CVs and Cover Letters, and have a crisp format + strong bullet points. How do you become hire-able despite the distance?
 

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Have moved you over to the US forum as I think you're likely to get more responses here.

My experience is somewhat dated, but I can mention a couple of things I discovered after doing a tour overseas, then returning to the US and then trying to find another job back in Europe from the US.

1. As far as things like renting an apartment are concerned, that can depend quite a bit on where you wind up settling in the US. It was for a time, mainly in big cities (like NYC) where you had to have a current credit rating in order to rent an apartment. That seems to have changed over time and may very well be the norm currently. The key thing is that not having been in the US (and more importantly, not having spent or borrowed money there) you basically don't have any kind of credit history or credit rating. That can be a major hassle.

2. Lining up a job before you get back there takes patience and a plan. Your strong suit is definitely your "international experience." Depends a bit on your line of work how to play that card most efficiently. But the other factor is to convince a potential employer that you really are coming back to the US to settle in the area. It may wind up being necessary to plan for a couple of "reconnaissance trips" back to the US so that you can tell people that you will be in their area "in the near future" - this assures them that you're making the big part of the trip on your own dime so that, if you're of potential interest to them, they would have no excessive costs to bring you in for an interview. No one is likely to fly you in from Europe for an interview - but if you're going to be in the area, they are more likely to set up an interview to speak with you. (I did that in reverse when looking for a job in Europe from the US. You have to be prepared to spend some $$ on this kind of trip, but if it pays off, you're ahead of the game.)

The alternative is to do some prospecting and then to move to the US and contact those employers who indicated any level of interest once you're in place. But for that it would be a good idea to indicate when applying for jobs roughly when you plan on repatriating (and where you are planning on being when you do so).

Obviously, the current state of the pandemic is going to make much of this kind of long-distance job hunting more difficult - but think like the employer and you may well come up with some ideas how to make it easier for them to extend you an invitation to stop by. Also, don't be afraid to answer any and all job postings that are obviously agency or head hunter placed ads (in Monster, Stepstone or LinkedIn, whatever online site you prefer). With the right CV (done in US "resumé" style) they may come back to you with some other ideas. I found my all time best headhunter that way (back before the online days, when you responded to ads in the Wall Street Journal and other "national" newspapers).

Anyhow, that's how things worked back in the last century. Adapt as needed to your own situation. I'm sure others will have a few ideas.
 

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In regards to point 1...

My experience on an aborted return to the US more than half a lifetime ago was that a reference letter from my immediately prior rental agency (I had the advantage that it was in English) plus the offer of a multi-month deposit / bond was enough. About 15 years ago when my parents went back to the US to work (having found themselves just shy of the 40 quarters required for a full social security benefit), they had difficulties finding someone willing to rent them an apartment until they offered to pay I don't recall whether it was the full amount of the rent for the year, or whether it was 6 months in advance .. in short... money seems to talk... that is the American way.

As to obtaining a local credit rating, I found that dealing with a small local bank or credit union was the easiest path. It seems that the local branch manager had far more latitude and autonomy. I was able to say to him that yes, I did have a credit rating, just not a US one, here is the most recent statement showing the current balance and credit limit I had there and that if required, I could show him say a year of statements that showed it was paid off on a monthly basis. I also offered that they could in escrow an amount equal to the line of credit that they were offering so as to mitigate any risk of default. I was offered a low-ball line of credit and used it extensively, paying off the full balance and for larger purchases using my Australian credit cards...

Today, I might bring a credit report (the three main credit reporting agencies are all US multinationals Equifax Experian and illon) , but in those days, credit reporting in Australia only recorded defaults so it would not have helped.
 

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It depends on where the OP has lived the last few years. Here in Europe, for example, there don't seem to be any centralized credit rating agencies. Here in France, for example, your credit history is evaluated by your bank when you ask for a loan, but that information is not normally shared with any other agencies or companies. It seems to be only the anglophone countries that do the sort of centralized credit "rating" that they do in the US.

One other thought, though. if you say that you are currently working for a US company, you may want to ask your current employer about the possibility of a transfer back to the US. It would make things considerably easier (on both sides) for re-integrating yourself into the US environment and the employer would be dealing with a "known quantity" as far as transferring you. You may have to negotiate the moving costs issue (since you would be the one requesting the move) but it would certainly be the most beneficial situation all the way around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks both for the reply and to Bevdeforges for moving the post to the appropriate section.

1. I think I might be covered well on the credit rating area; I have kept up with student loans while overseas so I do have a 'credit score' - which last I checked was around the 670 range..so not amazing but not terrible. And yes, here in the Netherlands even though I have a mortgage and borrow, none of that information transfers back to the US as far as I know. I think Moulard gave a good answer on the apartment renting, money talks and if I'm willing to spend X amount of months up front then maybe people will bite. I think I was mostly concerned about the references on the apartment stuff, but i guess there are ways around this from what I'm understanding. I could maybe even get my Dutch mortgage provider (ING Bank) to write me a letter in English stating that I've made X months of mortgage payments on time via automatic bank transfers?

2. I've thought about transferring with the US company to the US. I started my employment with them in Europe (so, local hire and not an expat contract). The only reason I'm keeping this as more of a last resort is because their major locations in the US are less than desirable to live in - and I'd prefer not to expose my wife to a "bad location" as her first impression of the US - mainly because she needs employment opportunities too and she won't be driving right away until she gets her license. One thought I've had though is just to use them as a bridge to return to the US, and then scope out further opportunities once I'm back stateside.

I've also considered inquiring with my company about the ability to transfer my contract to a US one with the option to work fully remotely - something that we've all proven that we can do well during the pandemic and my company seems to be more open to remote work now. Would also be a good way to set up base somewhere in the States if I'm unable to find another job beforehand.
 

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Here in France, for example, your credit history is evaluated by your bank when you ask for a loan, but that information is not normally shared with any other agencies or companies
That is pretty much the way it was in Australia when I returned to the US .. so while I may have said I had a credit rating, it was far more complicated than that (I won't bore you with the internesine history of credit in Oz) .. but not something I was going to nuance in the middle of trying to get something I wanted which was probably against bank policy in any event. But unless things have change (and of course they have changed, its was about 30 years ago) I suspect a strategy of politely challenging a No, by asking for a tiny line of credit, offering to place an equivalent amount in escrow and other signs of reasonableness cannot make it any worse
 

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I've also considered inquiring with my company about the ability to transfer my contract to a US one with the option to work fully remotely - something that we've all proven that we can do well during the pandemic and my company seems to be more open to remote work now.
That may involve other sorts of issues. Unless things have changed considerably over there, US jobs don't always involve "contracts" as such. If you work remotely for the Dutch branch of your employer, you'd more likely be considered a "contractor" in the US, which involves invoicing your "employer" (i.e. so that you aren't being paid on the Dutch payroll) and setting up your own payments for federal, state and local taxes plus "self-employment tax" (i.e. US Social Security) and your own arrangements for health cover. There used to be an issue in the US of being paid as a "contractor" if you only had the one "customer" (i.e. your employer) though people here on the forum seem to indicate that that isn't much of an issue nowadays. You want to consider your billing rate carefully, as the added costs of the self-employment tax plus health care coverage can eat into your income pretty quickly when you're a contractor rather than an employee.
 

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My biggest concerns:
1. How does one deal with the lack of US references - such as when getting an apartment to rent? All of my references/landlords/etc are abroad and non-American. Is renting an apartment back in the US really that strict when I've never had an adult life there so far?
Hi! If it is of any help I can share my experience of moving back to the states after mostly only visiting for the past decade+.

I had let me last credit card unrenewed after it's expiry date (nearly a decade ago) and was concerned what my credit score might have been. Surprise of all things, it was excellent. Not sure why or how. But will take it thanks. It seems that everyone will run a credit/background check which you will pay for of course.

I moved to an extremely high rental demand mid-size city in the mountain states (where I had gone to grad school) at the beginning of the summer without any active local contacts. I was able to accomplish the initial move by renting with a 'corporate' agency with accompanying super high rents but it was possible to book from overseas, with their credit and bg check run remotely and contract signed also online, and as i was just going to use it for the first month just put the high rent as cost of doing business in this circumstance.

This also will give you a local reference for your subsequent long term rental.

The search was beyond despairing, as although I was willing to pay a lot more than what I paid here during my grad student years, it was pretty much the very same apartments offered to this much higher rents lol. And I am woman in my 40s and I never thought I would have to be doing the 1BR rental in the US ever again.

Luckily I ran into an old friend literally the moment I finished quarantine and was able to use her as a reference and just enjoy the reconnection while being amazed at the synchronocity.

Finally after quite a few hopes and failures (it was so stressfull, i took up smoking again) I found this furnished flat direct from landlord who could see for themselves that I was a responsible mature woman and with a show of bank balance, and a second reference from a chance meeting of someone who we discovered to have have mutual connections back in NY.

Hope this is of help.
 
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