Setting up as Temporary Legal Aliens
By: Claire Coleman •
A couple of months before navigating our way through customs in Los Angeles, we had applied for a B1 tourist visa that would be valid for a year. The American Embassy in Perth, Western Australia was very helpful and said, “if you go to the next window, and pay an extra $143, you can actually have a B2 visa, which is valid for 5 years.”
He also explained that Border Control in Los Angeles Airport would only give us the 5yrs in 6-month increments, but we would be fine to just pop over the Canadian or Mexican border and get a consequent 6-month stamp. No problem – we could do this for the full 5 years – or so we thought!
This was the first of the mis-information or mis-understandings that we would come across as we navigated years of rules and regulations, border control guards and visa renewals. Nothing is ever as easy or as straight forward as you want it to be, and there are always more I’s to dot and T’s to cross, no matter what!
We chose Oregon as the starting point of our adventure, since it is one of the few States that is sales tax exempt, and this saved us many dollars on the numerous purchases we had to make before turning the key, starting the engine and laying rubber on the road.
Our plane touched down exactly on time in Portland at 3:00 p.m., and Don was there to pick us up in our new truck and take us to our new home—our caravan (known here in the States as a Travel Trailer)—to be known from here on in as 3T—The Travel Trailer.
Don was an unknown quantity to us as he was a used car salesman that Nick had only ever talked to on the phone, and our only point of contact in the US, but we had trusted him to acquire and fix up a damaged Chevy truck and get a good deal on a caravan (sorry—travel trailer) that we could live in for twelve months. Thankfully Don did not disappoint, and he set the standard for the wonderful people we have been blessed with ever since, and the ignition point for our love affair of everything American.
Our introduction to shopping in the USA was directly across the road from the RV park – a Super Centre — where we found everything we needed with which to set up our new life . . . Camping World, Target, Home Centre, Sports Authority and Best Buys. . . we lived in these stores for days, embarrassingly so, to the point where we were greeted with a smile and “you’re back again!”
Don very kindly let us use his home address for US officialdom - bank account, phone sim card, license plates, registration and insurance for the vehicles, and most importantly a US Driver’s License, as it meant cheaper car insurance and registering the truck in our name.
We studied up for our Driver’s License and sat the theory test, which was pretty nerve-racking as many of the road rules were very different to what we were used to. Having turning lanes in the middle of the road, 4 way stop intersections where ‘first in, best dressed” is the name of the game, and being allowed to turn right on a red light made perfect sense to us, but driving on the left after 35yrs of driving on the right proved almost suicidal whenever we pulled out of a gas station or shopping center driveway.
But we both passed with flying colours and then waited round for a week to sit the practical. I was first up at 8:30 a.m. – total cannon fodder on an empty stomach - Epic fail !L, but Nick was up to the task and therefore scored an insurance rebate, and luckily I could still drive on my Australian license—it just meant I had a bigger deductible, and Nick a bigger head!
Next on the must-have list was portable wifi so we found a Verizon kiosk in a local shopping center, but as we had neither credit rating nor social security numbers, they demanded a $400 deposit, but after pleading exemptions on all requirements and agreeing to a two-year contract, we negotiated the deposit down to $275 and walked out convinced that meeting their sales quota spoke a lot louder than following their rules.
The last major purchase before we hit the road was a mountain bike each, so back to our favorite Super Center and into Sports Authority where we chose a couple of pretty flash units, and then to seal the deal they gave us each a $100 gift card for every $300 spent. Yay – It was so easy to love this American way of shopping!
Back to 3T, where Nick attached the bike rack to the back of the trailer, the bikes to the rack, and the trailer to the truck - all ready for a quick getaway in the morning…..our journey was about to begin, and we were very excited.
Claire Coleman is the new guest columnist at InvestUSA360 and is happy to now share on a series of posts all the trials and tribulations they have discovered on their journey to living life as legal aliens under the E2 visa. Stay tuned for the next chapter!
If you are considering applying for an E2 Visa we recommend that you speak to an Immigration attorney. Our recommendation for knowledgeable and esteemed experts to guide you are the attorneys at www.ColomboHurd.com
If you are already in the USA on an E2 Visa please feel free to contact Zoe Adams with E2 Visa Reform to meet like minded individuals who are lobbying to have changes made to the rules around this visa E2VisaReform.org or email