Canadian guide: Relocating to California

Congratulations! You have been accepted at Walt Disney Studios. Now its time to quit your job and start planning your move to the United States of America!
This is just a simple guide that I hope will be useful to those moving into the state for work. Most of the points I make will mostly apply to Canadian, but I’m sure other countries may find them useful as well.
**This guide is based mostly on personal experience and not of the Walt Disney Company.

Your Work VISA
To be allowed to work in the states, you must have a work visa. In order to be approved for a work visa in the states, the company that is hiring you should be willing to sponsor you. This means that the employer will go through the process of filing an application requesting a type of visa for you. Your employer should then send you some paper work along with a letter requesting a work visa. Then, usually you would go to the US embassy in your respected country to receive the Visa but in my case, I had to go straight to US customs at the airport. There, things may get a bit difficult. For Canadians and Mexicans, our work eligibility falls under the NAFTA ACT. Unfortunately, the categories of work are limited in this Act. if you are an artist, the company will try to put you under the ‘Graphic Designer’ category. Now, the border officers will most likely give you a hard time and refuse to grant you the visa. My advice: be patient and respectful. Allow them to call your employer and let them talk it out. If you’re lucky, the border officer will grant you your glorious, glorious work visa!

EDIT: Also, make sure that your passport is updated to ensure that it does not expire too early. Ideally, you want 3 years on your passport.

Your SSN (Social Security Number)
If this is your first time applying for a SSN then this may make things quite difficult. Without a SSN, you cannot get utilities for your apartment, activate a US wireless phone nor can you apply for a US bank account! You usually have to wait 10 days after entering the states before you can apply for a SSN. And even then, you must wait another couple of weeks before the card gets mailed to you. So for a good month, you will not be able to get utilities for your apartment, you will need a roaming plan with your current wireless provider and you will need to hang on to all your paychecks.
After 10 days, head to the nearest Social Security Office. Find the closest one using the Social Security Office Locator.

So what do you do with all those paychecks that you can’t deposit in your non-existent US bank account? I’ve been told that from students from France just had to deal with it. One French student was lucky enough to get the US bank to cash his check for him. Kept it all in a shoebox. The pay checks from Disney do not expire for 6 months, so if you can survive, you can hang on to your checks while you wait for your SSN.

Temporary Housing
Unless you are coming to Disney for the Summer Associate Training program, you will need to find housing. The Summer Trainees are set up with a Temporary Corporate Housing solution. Disney will also recommend that you stay the same temporary housing and I would recommend the same. Save yourself the hassle and take the place for a month or two. Corporate housing will come fully furnished and include everything like utilities. Apartment hunting can be dangerous around here.

Apartment Hunting
Really, you shouldn’t be allowed to sign a lease with an apartment without a SSN but some will sign you regardless. so BE CAREFUL. I almost singed a lease with an apartment thinking I could just use their transit system to get to work. but guess what? LA’s transit system is practically NON-EXISTENT! Unless you have a car (which… you actually wouldn’t be able to drive for the first month as a SSN is required for a California Driver’s License) it would be best to find housing close to your work place.

I was going to include this as part of Apartment Hunting, but this point deserves it’s own header simply because of how ridiculous it is. That apartment you’re looking into? notice anything missing? uh huh. California seems to be the only state where apartments usually do not include REFRIGERATORS! imagine signing a lease and discovering that empty area in the kitchen where your ice box should be. (almost happened to me). Tenants in California tend to travel with their refrigerators. Or they buy a refrigerator and sell it when they move out. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a place where someone decided to leave their fridge. The newer apartments like the ones in North Hollywood will include a fridge and of course corporate housing will provide them as well.

Derp. thats all i can think of right now. leave a comment if you have any questions!

UPDATE: So I’ve looked into applying for a green card! I’ve discovered that you can throw your name into an annual lottery where the US government grants a whole lot of green cards to individuals who are coming form countries that have low immigration rates. The green card would allow me and my family to permanently work and live in the united states. The deadline for the next applications is this november. unfortunately my parents are from a country that cannot participate in the lottery. my next option is to continue to work for 2 years here in the states. then will i be eligible to apply for a green card. heres the website to apply for the lottery and a description of eligibility requirements: WIN A GREEN CARD

3 thoughts on “Canadian guide: Relocating to California

  1. Is there a way to get a work visa without or prior to being sponsored for by a company in the states. I ask because it feels like the hassle of getting someone into the states compared to someone that doesn’t come with this hassle may be the deciding factor in getting the job and frankly, the easier I can make it on people, the easier it is for me to squirm myself in the cracks.


  2. mrschuster says:

    Thanks for this!
    I’m only part time Canadian but this is super interesting none the less!

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