The average expat in the United States has an income 60 % higher than the average American, according to a new study, but they find paperwork hard at the start.

It is estimated that every year around three million foreigners from around the world enter the United States on H-1B, L1, L2, J1, and A2 visas, among others, thus creating a multi-billion dollar relocation industry.

Research from expat transportation provider International Autosource has sought to identify who they are and what challenges they face. Its Expat Review surveyed expats who relocated to the US in 2013 and 2014, with the average participant having been in the United States for eight months at the time of the study.

Over 80% of the expats relocated with a family member, identifying a major trend in relocations. The average expat income at $129,116 was 60% higher than the median household average in America, as recorded by the 2013 US Census Bureau.

The biggest group of expats were from the Philippines at 16% followed by 12% from Brazil, then the UK, Australia and Mexico. Some 20% moved to Texas and 18% to California. The next most popular states were Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Establishing a credit history, which is needed for buying a car or a home, for example, can be hard, the research found. Credit scores do not transfer from country to country. Even opening a bank account is not always straightforward. Some 43% said documentation was the biggest challenge, while 18% said it was obtaining a credit score and 18% finding a home.

‘When you first arrive, nobody knows you and you identity is based simply on a social security number or a Driver’s license ID without which it is not easy to get anything unless you pay cash,’ said one respondent.

‘The biggest challenge of starting a new life in the US is to actually go through the process of becoming someone. Credit history is used as a basis to measure people for everything, being new you are basically at a disadvantage on everything,’ said another.

But the lifestyle made up for battles with red tape. The culture, weather and range of activities were all cited as positives. Friends, family, colleagues and relocation companies were all named as being important during the first months in a new country.

‘The global nature of the expat industry makes it difficult to define as a marketplace and these foreign nationals come from thousands of unique cultures and enter the United States to work in a variety of different industries,’ said a company spokesman.