It looks like we might be moving to San Francisco. Help!

(28 Posts)
markymark Thu 13-Jan-11 19:49:35

DH and I have been casually chatting about the possibility of a move from London to San Francisco, where his company's head office is based. This has turned into something much more real today and now I am panicking!

Have any of you made this move? How did it work out? Were people friendly? Any tips?

From the little bit of research I've done it looks like spouses of people on working visas can't work. Does anyone know if this is always the case? Are there any work arounds? I'm going back to work next week and had begun to look forward to it!

DD will be 3 and DS 1. Do people generally use nurseries or child minders? Anyone got any info on how it compares to the UK?


OP’s posts: |
said Thu 13-Jan-11 19:52:02

No help but envy Lucky you!

BluddyMoFo Thu 13-Jan-11 19:54:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

happypotter Thu 13-Jan-11 20:03:47

How exciting! I love San Francisco. We relocated to New York early last Spring with our toddler ds and love living in the US.
I can't help with details about SF but I might be able to help with your visa question.
I'm guessing that your DD's work will submit your application with your DH being the 'main' person as it's a company transfer. I think that is an L1 visa and your visa will be based on your DH's visa. You cannot work on that visa as it is linked to your DH's job.
However, when you are in the US, you can apply to have your visa changed to allow you to work. I'm currently thinking about this but I'm not sure if I can just do it or if I need to have a specific job in mind first. When you get your social security number, it will state on it that you cannot work without authorization.

Good luck!

markymark Thu 13-Jan-11 20:07:37

Thanks - I went there for a couple of weeks with my old job about 5 years ago and loved it, but that seems like a long time ago and a very different place now that we're talking about childcare and more domestic things!

OP’s posts: |
redflipflops Thu 13-Jan-11 22:27:27

If your husband is transferred within the same company (at senior level) he will likely be on an L1 visa. Spouse can work on L1/2 visa (but takes a few months after arriving to sort out).

Other types of visa the spouse can't work. H visas etc..

Whether you can work depends on type of visa!

redflipflops Thu 13-Jan-11 22:40:28

happypotter you can work on an L2 visa. You need an extra form from the immigration dept. It takes them a few months to sort this out. Then you'll get permission to work.

visa info

"You have a multinational employer who is willing to transfer you, but even then the employer has to make a good case for you. Your dependent spouse may work. Dual-intent visa. Search for: L1 Visa, intra-company transfer."


markymark Sun 16-Jan-11 20:56:43

Brilliant - thanks redflipflops.

Things got interesting this afternoon when we told my Mum, turns out she'd overheard her sister taking about it (she has some experience with US visas so had discussed it with her) before I got to talk to her about it directly. She was quite upset - not how I would have liked to break the news!

Time to update my CV!

OP’s posts: |
anonymosity Wed 26-Jan-11 00:50:35

I'm afraid the US VISA office is quite a bit stricter at the moment due to recession and other factors.

If your DP has an L1 and you have an L2 you can only get a "permission to work" status change if either of the following apply:

a) they die suddenly and leave you holding the responsibility of rent etc or

b) they divorce you and you're stuck.

Sorry to be damp squib. Have faced this myself in the US recently. Really the only way forward is to apply for a greencard - and that's a wait with no guarantee.

However I expect you can have a splendid time in San Francisco anyway! Enjoy!

WilheminaAteHer Wed 26-Jan-11 01:02:34


WilheminaAteHer Wed 26-Jan-11 01:02:40


WilheminaAteHer Wed 26-Jan-11 01:03:03

And, just in case I didn't make my point clear earlier,



Have fun!

ChippingInSmellyCheeseFreak Wed 26-Jan-11 01:08:12

How exciting grin

Will it be a permanent move or for a fixed period.

I love San Fran & think it will be great.

If DH is getting paid enough you can just look forward to spending time in a new and interesting city Or maybe look into running your own business? It depends what you do I guess.

Your poor Mum though - I'm sure she will miss you all very much and to find out the way she did Have you sent hugs & flowers?

Slightly Wed 26-Jan-11 01:40:44


just wanted to say we did the move in September (from Wiltshire to SF Bay) and we LOVE it. Its a fabulous place to live and have children

We live in Foster City, if you want to google it, right on the bay.

We're on L1/2 visas and I can work if I want to (but I'm not at the mo)

PM me and I'll give you my e-mail if you like. Or if you'd prefer to chat here...

Would it be a permanent job or a fixed contract? Housing is SUPER expensive all over the Peninsula, so good to find out employers policy on helping you with that. I would say get a copy of employeers relocation handbook asap.

Can you get a visit out here before you move? We were lucky and got two, and it made the world of difference.

I have a friend here who moved out around the same time as us, she has her 5yr old in nursery and she has found it pretty expensive, not sure about in the city, she is in Palo Alto. Kids start school later here too. Mine are in school so not a concern.

Ask away! I'm happy to help smile

Slightly Wed 26-Jan-11 01:42:44

oh, also meant to say, show your mum skype - its fab for relatives to see the kids and your new surroundings

redflipflops Wed 26-Jan-11 03:23:48

anonymosity that's interesting to hear... (I guess not so surprising during a recession?). Did you get declined 'Permission to work' fairly recently then?

I'm here on an L1/2 and not working (as baby) But if we stay much longer that will change. I know several spouses who got the Permission to work status last year - perhaps this is new change?

markymark SF is amazing but CA is expensive (housing, living costs etc..). Also be aware they start school much later here so the cost of childcare needs to be taken into account etc...

Agree with Slightly Skype is really great for relatives/friends

mathanxiety Wed 26-Jan-11 03:50:07

Childcare is 'daycare' in the US unless you hire a nanny. There are home daycares and rather grim looking storefront premises. It's all regulated by the local county afaik. Quality is extremely patchy. Waiting lists are long for good ones (or they used to be before the recession hit).

If you want something much better, a Montessori preschool would be lovely for your older child, and most Catholic parishes that run a school have a preschool where you can send your DCs usually beginning at age 3, but for only a couple of hours a day in the classroom at that age. Some (but not all) run an extended day programme where you can drop your child off at 7 am or whatever and pick him or her up in the evening; last call is usually 6 pm. You have to pay for every preschool and daycare option - no such thing as subsidies or free childcare or preschool education in the US unless you go to Headstart, which is not aimed at someone in your income bracket or designed with the needs of children in your socio-economic group (given what you have revealed about your circumstances). Public schools are free but do not take children until kindergarten which is for 5 yos. There may be classes or other options at your local YMCA and Park District - but rarely full-time childcare, just classes/ groups.

For a baby, preschool is not an option so daycare or a nanny or au pair might be your best bet - not cheap though, and hard to get into (daycare) and not cheap (nanny/ au pair).

Don't worry about your children falling behind their UK peers despite the later start and apparent lack of focus on formal learning. They will all even out at around age 7 or 8, and may even be ahead in areas such as grammar and writing skills.

SF and northern CA are lovely and very hip. But expensive. Look carefully at your relocation package and try to compare it with others.

anonymosity Wed 26-Jan-11 05:10:25

I haven't applied for "authorization to work" as you can ONLY apply when on an L2 VISA if you qualify one with one of the two circs I mentioned - look it up on the US Embassy site - its all there in teeny tiny print. Took me ages, but its there -sad

redflipflops Wed 26-Jan-11 16:50:11

are you sure? sorry - not trying to start an argument but this is my current status so am interested! I know lots of wives working on L2 Visa. You just need EAD.

London Embassy "Working on an L-2 visa
Spouses may seek employment authorization on derivative L-2 visas. For further information, please contact the USCIS on your arrival in the United States."

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for L2 visa holders

anonymosity Wed 26-Jan-11 17:35:50

No problem at all - I suggest you look up on the US immigration site - they make the decisions - you can seek the status, certainly but only with the prerequisite circumstances I've listed- its just in the finer details which the thing you're quoting doesn't include unfortunately.

anonymosity Wed 26-Jan-11 17:39:43

I'll see if I can find it too for you - but I am no good at posting links...

Hassled Wed 26-Jan-11 17:43:27

How bizarre to see this - my DH's dream job has just been advertised, in San Francisco. And we got completely sucked in, had a lovely little fantasy about moving there until we remembered his elderly parents, my adult DCs, etc etc. We'd do it for a year, but not forever.

But you should go for it - would be a fantastic place to live.

redflipflops Wed 26-Jan-11 22:35:30

yep the visa stuff is bloody complicated! confused

mathanxiety Wed 26-Jan-11 23:24:58

That bit about contacting USCIS on arrival in the US is actually a little joke by the State Department. USCIS is notoriously difficult to contact and receive appropriate advice from. All employees seem to take a perverse delight in driving the immigrant public crazy.

expatinscotland Wed 26-Jan-11 23:29:30

SF = expensive as hell.

I hope it's a really good job.

I lived in the US for 31 years, but would never move back there again unless it was for an amazing, extremely well-paid job.

And even then, probably not . . .

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