Moving from Germany to USA Guide and Checklist [2023]

Moving Germany to USA
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Editorial Team - HomeAbroad  by HomeAbroad Editorial Team

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If you’re a German citizen considering a move to the USA, you’ll encounter both opportunities and challenges. This guide is tailored to your needs and outlines visa options, eligibility requirements, and necessary documents to successfully transition to a new country. Although moving to a new country can be daunting, our goal is to make the process as seamless as possible for you.

Documents Needed to Immigrate from Germany to the USA

When you immigrate to the USA from Germany, the required documents may differ depending on your valid visa or immigration category. However, some standard documents are typically needed for most immigration applications. It is recommended to fulfill the following requirements to make the process smoother.

  1. A valid passport
  2. Visa Application Form (DS-160 for nonimmigrant visas and DS-260 for immigrant visas)
  3. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  4. Passport-sized photographs
  5. Labor Certification
  6. Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
  7. Job offer letter or employment contract from a U.S. employer
  8. Proof of Financial Support (bank statements, employment contracts, or sponsorship letters)
  9. Educational and Professional Certificates (academic transcripts, diplomas, and professional certifications)
  10. Police Clearance Certificate
  11. Health and Vaccination Records (Form I-693)
  12. Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) from a U.S. sponsor, if required
  13. Proof of language proficiency
  14. Customs requirement for moving household goods

The list provided above may not be comprehensive for your specific situation. For accurate and current information on your immigration application requirements, please consult the official website of the U.S. embassy or consulate of Germany. Also, seek guidance from an immigration lawyer or consultant to ensure that you have collected all necessary documents accurately.

How to Move from Germany to the USA? Step-by-Step

Relocating to America is an exciting adventure that requires careful planning and preparation for a smooth and successful transition. From getting the right visa to finding a place to call home and immersing yourself in a new culture, the process can feel a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, the following steps will make your transitions smoother.

1. Determine Your Eligibility

To find the best way to move to the USA, investigate the different types of visas available. Some common categories include employment-based visas, family-sponsored visas, diversity lottery visas, as well as student visas, or exchange visitor visas.

2. Obtain the Necessary Visa

Once you have determined the correct category, follow the necessary visa process. These usually involve:

  • Filling out online forms
  • Collecting supporting documents (such as your passport, photos, birth and marriage certificates, diplomas, and work experience letters)
  • Scheduling an interview at the U.S. embassy or German consulate

The interview is an essential part of the process, as you will be expected to explain your reasons for traveling to the U.S. and demonstrate that you meet the eligibility requirements.

3. Finding Housing

Search for suitable housing options in the USA that align with your preferences and budget. It is advisable to engage a CIPS real estate agent with expertise in assisting immigrants to find homes. When exploring potential housing, take the following factors into account:

  • Temporary Accommodation
  • Understand Rental Agreements and Lease Terms
  • Research Neighborhoods
  • Virtual Tours and Online Listings

Connect with us to find the best CIPS real estate agents who can help you find the perfect house suiting your budget and requirements. CIPS agents are real estate agents with special training to work with international clients.

Even newcomers can buy a home in the US because there are mortgage options available for foreign nationals with no US credit history.

Find the best real estate agent and mortgage lender with international expertise.

Connect with a local international real estate agent and mortgage lender

4. Apply for a Work Permit (if applicable)

When you move to the USA for employment, you may have to get a work permit in addition to your visa application. This work permit, also called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), lets you work legally in the USA according to the conditions of your particular visa.

5. Plan Your Move

When your visa is approved, begin to plan your relocation to the USA. This includes:

  • Arranging travel and booking flights
  • Finding a place to stay
  • Hiring a moving company to help transport your belongings

6. Attend Visa Interview

U.S. embassy or consulate may require you to attend an interview, depending on your visa category. To prepare for the interview, make sure you have all necessary documents well-organized and be ready to answer questions about your background, planned activities in the U.S., and your connections to your home country.

7. Register with the U.S. Government

If you intend to work in the USA, you must register with government agencies such as the Social Security Administration to get a Social Security Number (SSN). The SSN is crucial for tax and employment-related matters. You may also have to register with the United States Selective Service System if you are male between 18-25.

8. Familiarize Yourself with U.S. Laws and Culture

To ease your transition and adjustment to life in the USA, it is recommended that you learn about the country’s laws, customs, and cultural norms beforehand. Make sure to also become familiar with the local laws and regulations.

9. Establish Bank Accounts and Utility

Once you arrive in the USA, it’s important to open a bank account to manage your finances. Also if you are moving into a new residence, make arrangements for:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Internet Services

10. Obtain Customs Requirements

Customs clearance is essential for international moves, allowing your belongings to enter the United States legally. To meet requirements, provide a detailed inventory and estimated values of household items. You may also need to complete specific forms and declarations as mandated by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

When moving to the USA, finding the right house is crucial. A CIPS agent specializing in international transactions and the needs of German immigrants can be a valuable resource. They help you find the perfect home that suits your preferences and budget, providing peace of mind and assurance in your decision-making process.

Moving from Germany to America Checklist: Check It Off!

Research and Plan

Research immigration laws and visa requirements

Determine the purpose and duration of your stay

Create a budget for the relocation

Visa and Immigration

Choose the appropriate visa category

Gather required documents and information

Complete the visa application

Prepare for the interview

Familiarize yourself with U.S. immigration laws and regulations


Research housing options

Contact CIPS agents (cretified real estate agents to work with international clients), if you are buying a home

Arrange temporary accommodation for your arrival

Sign the lease agreement or purchase property

Financial Preparation

Ensure your German bank offers international services

Open a U.S. bank account (if needed)

Notify your German bank about your move

Transfer funds to your U.S. account

Set up online banking and payment methods


Book flights for you and your family members

Consider shipping or selling your belongings

Check transportation options within the U.S.

Apply for an international driving permit


Research healthcare options in the U.S.

Obtain health insurance coverage

Transfer medical records or obtain copies

Legal and Administrative Tasks

Inform relevant authorities in Germany about your move

Update your address with the German embassy in the USA

Update your address with Indian banks, insurance providers

Obtain required U.S. identification documents (SSN, driver’s license)

Research U.S. tax laws and understand your tax obligations

What are the Visa Options Available for Germans Immigrating to the USA?

If you’re a German citizen planning to move to the US, it is important that you understand the available visa options. There is a wide array of visa categories available for ex-pats ranging from employment, education, family reunification, and investment. Thus, you can choose a visa based on your purpose and planned stay duration.

1. Work Visas

German nationals can work in the US through employment-based visas that are available for temporary and permanent job opportunities. To qualify for a work visa, foreign nationals need to have a job offer from a US employer that the Department of Labor has approved or meets specific criteria set by immigration regulations.

  • H-1B Visa: For skilled workers in specialized fields with a job offer from a U.S. employer.
  • L-1 Visa: For intracompany transferees, managers, executives, or specialized knowledge employees
  • O-1 Visa: For individuals with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics
  • J-1 Visa: For exchange visitors participating in cultural exchange programs. Did you know you can qualify for a mortgage on the above visa programs? Read about How to Qualify for a Mortgage on a J1, O1, F1 Visa / OPT, and EAD here!

2. Investor Visas

The USA offers investor visas, which enable foreign investors and entrepreneurs to establish or contribute to a business in the country. These visas aim to encourage foreign investment and boost economic development.

  • E-1 Visa: German investors and traders who conduct substantial trade between the US and Germany can apply for the E-1 treaty trader visa.
  • E-2 Visa: German investors making a significant investment in a US business and actively managing it can apply for the E-2 treaty investor visa.
  • EB-5 Visa: German investors investing substantially in a new commercial enterprise that creates or preserves at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers can obtain PRLearn More: EB5 Visa: How to Get Investment Green Card

3. Family-Based Visas

US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can sponsor close relatives for green cards through family reunification. Eligibility requirements vary based on the petitioner’s relationship with the beneficiary. Family sponsorship involves applying for and obtaining visas or residence permits based on the family relationship and meeting eligibility criteria set by the host country’s immigration authorities.

Moving to another country for family reunification means relocating to be with close family members who are citizens or permanent residents there. If a German citizen wishes to relocate to the USA, there are various family-based visa options available to them, enabling them to reunite with their family members who are either US citizens or LPRs.

  • Immediate Relative Visas (IR):
    1. IR-1 Visa: For spouses of US citizens
    2. IR-2 Visa: For unmarried children under 21 of US citizens
    3. IR-3 Visa: For orphans adopted abroad by US citizens
    4. IR-4 Visa: For orphans to be adopted in the US by US citizens
  • Family Preference Visas (F):
    1. F-1 Visa: For unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens and their minor children
    2. F-2A Visa: For spouses and unmarried children under 21 of LPRs
    3. F-2B Visa: For unmarried children over 21 of LPRs
  • Diversity Visa Lottery: Randomly selects individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the US to obtain a permanent residence permit

Apart from the above options, you can also move based on family reunification.

Note: Family visas have certain eligibility criteria, waiting periods, and restrictions that depend on the relationship between the petitioner (US citizen or an LPR) and the beneficiary (German applicant). Consequently, the availability of these visas may differ depending on the demand and the preference category.

4. Student Visas

To apply for a student visa as a foreign national, you must show that you have been accepted to a US academic institution and can financially support yourself. You also need to prove that you have PR in your home country and intend to return after finishing your education. As a German, you must be accepted by a SEVP-approved school in the US and follow the US embassy or consulate’s application process in Germany.

  • F-1 Student Visa: For academic studies at SEVP-approved institutions in the US. You might also want to read about International Student Mortgages: F1 Visa Mortgage Guide
  • J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa: Participate in approved exchange programs, including study, research, and cultural exchange.
  • M-1 Vocational Student Visa: Pursue non-academic or vocational programs at SEVP-approved vocational schools.
  • F-2 and M-2 Dependent Visas: Accompanying visas for spouses and children of F-1 or M-1 visa holders.

Make sure you know the differences between visa types and check if you meet the requirements before applying. To have a successful outcome, it is essential to be aware of all the requirements. Consider seeking help from immigration services or qualified professionals for assistance during the application process.

Cost of Moving from Germany to the USA

Here’s a detailed table of estimated expenses for moving from Germany to the USA. It covers visa fees, airfare, accommodation, and daily living expenses. Keep in mind that these figures are approximate and the actual cost may vary based on individual circumstances.

Whether you’re reuniting with family, pursuing career opportunities, or seeking new experiences, this breakdown will help you plan your budget and settle into your new home across the Atlantic.

Cost of moving from Germany to USA

Cost of Living: Germany vs USA

In terms of cost of living, Germany is cheaper than the United States by 35%, with an average price of living of $1442 compared to $2213 in the US. Though the salary after taxes can cover living expenses for 1.9 months in Germany and the US, attending a German university is more affordable than attending an American one.

This is because German public universities provide free tuition and affordable housing for students. The monthly living cost for students is approximately $1,215 in Germany and around $1,500 in the USA, not including an additional $10,000 per year for tuition fees.

Cost of Living: USA vs Germany


Top 5 Moving Companies for Germany to USA

When you’re moving from Germany to the USA, it’s really important to choose a reliable and experienced moving company. That way, you can have a smooth and stress-free relocation. So, here are the top five moving companies known for their expertise in international moves and excellent customer service:

1. AGS Froesch

They are an international moving company with roots dating back to 1927. Part of the Mobilitas Group and a member of AGS Worldwide Movers, they are accredited by FIDI. With branches in Koblenz and Berlin, AGS Froesch collaborates with 142 AGS branches in 94 countries to provide international removals and relocations.

They offer complete or partial solutions, including door-to-door service and a self-pack option along with:

  • Door-to-door service
  • International moves
  • High-quality packing service
  • Road, rail, sea, and air transportation
  • Customs clearance
  • Insurance
  • National moves
  • Corporate relocations
  • Residential moves
  • Secure storage


2. Andreas Christ Logistik

Andreas Christ Logistik, founded in 1914, provides logistics, moving services, and trade fair support. They have a global network of moving agents for international moves with branches in Heilbronn, Stuttgart, Boblingen, Frankfurt, and Bern (Switzerland).

As a member of IAM for 109 years and accredited by FIDI, they offer free consultation and a non-binding proposal. Their services include professional packing, furniture assembly, electrical and sanitary work, and the following solutions:

  • International moves
  • Door-to-door service
  • Customs formalities
  • Transport insurance
  • Secure storage facilities
  • Road, sea, and air freight
  • National moves
  • Packing services
  • Residential removals
  • Commercial removals


3. Confern

This is a consortium of 60 German moving companies collaborating under the Confern name for national and international moves. Founded in 1967 by 12 companies, their goal is to enhance efficiency. With 56 years of service as an IAM member, they work with a global network to facilitate moves worldwide.

They offer personalized door-to-door service, including packing, unpacking, and handling customs formalities. They find the fastest routes and affordable transport options and also provide:

  • Tailored door-to-door service
  • International moves
  • Packing service
  • Handling of customs formalities
  • Residential moves
  • National moves
  • Vehicle transportation
  • Office moves
  • Relocation insurance
  • Storage facilities


4. Corporate Logistics

They specialize in employee and diplomatic relocations. With locations in Neuwied, Hamburg, and Berlin and global partnerships, they offer personalized door-to-door moving services. They are a member of IAM.

Their comprehensive offerings include a personal account manager, initial needs inspection, professional packing, furniture assembly, and additional services like electricians, carpenters, plumbers, car transportation, insurance, and storage. They are well known for:

  • Car transportation
  • Employee relocations
  • Tailored door-to-door moving service with a personal account manager
  • Short to long-term storage
  • Customs assistance
  • Packing service
  • International removals
  • Diplomatic relocations
  • Pet transportation
  • National removals


5. DB Schenker

They are a global freight forwarder and logistics company with over 150 years of experience and 1,850 locations worldwide, including Berlin, Braunschweig, Cologne, and Munich. They have an extensive international network of logistics agents and are a proud member of IAM with 151 years of service.

They offer comprehensive moving services with specialist packaging and air-suspended vehicles, ensuring safe transportation. They also handle:

  • International moves
  • Own fleet of moving vehicles
  • National moves
  • Packing services
  • Residential removals
  • Professional packaging
  • Company moves
  • Specialist moving services
  • Storage facilities
  • Customs clearance


The top five moving companies mentioned above specialize in national and international moves and residential and commercial removals and offer reliable solutions tailored to your needs. They provide high-quality packing and transportation options by road, rail, sea, and air. Moreover, they have expertise in customs clearance, ensuring your belongings enter the United States legally.

Can Germans Obtain Green Cards in the US?

Absolutely! Germans have several ways to obtain residence permits in the USA, tailored to their unique circumstances. This coveted United States Permanent Resident Card not only grants the holder the right to live permanently in America but also opens doors to endless opportunities. Just like citizens from other countries, Germans are eligible to apply for a Green Card through various immigration pathways.

  1. Employment-Based Green Card
  2. Investment-Based Green Card
  3. Family-Based Green Card
  4. Refugee or Asylee Status
  5. Diversity Visa Lottery

It’s crucial to research available pathways and seek legal advice to determine the best option for your situation. For help with the application process, documentation, timelines, and eligibility, contact the US Embassy in Germany or consult a US immigration attorney. Their expertise will support a successful application journey.

German Communities in the USA

German-American communities are located across several states and cities in the USA, with notable concentrations in specific regions. The Midwest and Texas are the areas with the largest German-American communities. The following are some prominent German-American communities:

  1. New York City, New York: NYC has a strong German heritage, including a variety of German restaurants, cultural centers, and beer gardens. The Yorkville neighborhood on the Upper East Side is known for its history as a thriving German immigrant community.
  2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Also known as the “German Athens of America”, the city hosts one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the US, attracting thousands of visitors each year. German traditions, music, and cuisine are well-preserved in various neighborhoods.
  3. Cincinnati, Ohio: This city has a deep German history, which has left a lasting impact on the city’s architecture, culture, and cuisine. The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, named after the Rhine River in Germany, still retains its historic charm with German-inspired buildings and restaurants.
  4. Germantown, Pennsylvania: As the name suggests, this is one of the oldest settlements in America with German roots. It played a significant role in the early history of German immigration to the US. Today, visitors can explore historic sites and landmarks that showcase the area’s German influence.
  5. Fredericksburg, Texas: Founded by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, the town has preserved its German culture through festivals, events, and traditional practices. The main street of Fredericksburg is lined with German-themed shops, restaurants, and beer gardens, attracting tourists from all over.

What Changes Await Germans Moving to the USA?

Germans who want to immigrate to the US should prepare themselves for significant adjustments. Despite the strong German presence in many parts of the country, it is crucial to understand and adapt to the American culture and way of life. Adapting to a new environment may bring about various changes for Germans settling in the US.

1. Cultural Differences

As a German in America, you will notice many cultural differences, in everyday life, including social norms, communication styles, customs, and interpersonal interactions distinct from the ones you are used to in Germany.

  • Credit is King: Using cash is still prevalent in Germany. While credit and debit cards are accepted in many places, cash is often preferred, especially for smaller purchases. It’s part of our traditional approach to payments and financial transactions.
  • Language and Communication: Germans take language formality seriously, and it’s an essential part of their communication culture. They use “Sie” for formal situations and “du” for close acquaintances. In the US, people are more relaxed about using first names and informal language.
  • Punctuality: Germans, who highly value punctuality, may need to adapt to a more relaxed approach to timekeeping in American social settings.
  • Tipping Culture: Understanding American tipping norms and leaving gratuities for various services may be new to Germans accustomed to different customs in their home country.
  • Food Culture: Germans might need to adjust to larger restaurant portions and a different variety of foods, including more processed and fast foods, in American cuisine.
  • Personal Space: Americans’ preference for closer personal space during conversations and their everyday use of physical contact, like hugging, may differ from what Germans are used to.
  • Holidays and Celebrations: Participating in American holidays and celebrations may introduce Germans to new customs and traditions they may not be familiar with.
  • Driving and Transportation: Germans accustomed to efficient public transit systems may find it necessary to adapt to driving and relying on personal vehicles in many parts of the USA due to limited public transportation options.

2. Healthcare and Education System

The healthcare system in America operates on a private insurance model, unlike the public healthcare system in Germany. Thus, you will need to research beforehand the following:

  • Medical service costs
  • Healthcare coverage options
  • Healthcare options
  • Insurance regulations Finding an international removal company

For families with children, gaining knowledge of the education system, including the curriculum, grading system, and extracurricular activities, can help their children thrive academically.

3. Work Culture

Germans may encounter differences in the work culture, including work hours, office dynamics, and management styles. In some industries, the work-life balance may be different, and there may be greater emphasis on networking and self-promotion.

4. Social Support System

Building new social networks and support systems is crucial for immigrants in the USA. Germans may need to proactively seek community groups, cultural organizations, or expat networks to find like-minded individuals and create a sense of belonging.

It can be challenging to navigate the legal and administrative procedures when moving to the US. Thus, you need to understand immigration regulations, tax laws, and residency requirements. Germans looking to relocate should note that taxes may differ significantly between countries. Therefore, it’s crucial to familiarize oneself with the US tax system and ensure timely payment of any owed taxes.

Relocating to a new country can bring about many changes. But with some research and preparation, adjusting to life in America can be easy. To make sure your move goes smoothly, it’s important to learn about local customs, healthcare and insurance rules, entertainment options, and tax laws. Give yourself enough time to adjust to your new lifestyle.


If you’re a German citizen and planning to move to the USA, it can be an exciting opportunity to explore a new life with various possibilities. It can be for work, education, reuniting with family, or starting anew.

However, it’s crucial to plan and prepare carefully. You can follow the steps given in this guide for guidance and support and seek professional assistance whenever required to make your dream of living in the USA possible.


  1. Can a German citizen become a US citizen?

    The process of naturalization allows you to become a US citizen. To be eligible for US citizenship, you must satisfy certain criteria, such as having a green card, living in the US for a specific time, showing good moral character, and passing a citizenship test.

  2. Can I move to America without a job?

    Several visa options enable you to move to the US even if you don’t have a job. For instance, you can opt for a family-based visa if you have immediate family members who are citizens or permanent residents of the US. Alternatively, you can choose to apply for a student visa to pursue your studies in the US or even an investor visa if you plan to invest a significant amount of money in a US business.

  3. How many German citizens live in the US?

    Academy for Cultural Diplomacy reports that German-Americans constitute the largest ancestry group in the United States, consisting of around 49 million individuals and representing approximately 17% of the population.

  4. How long can a German citizen stay in the US?

    If you are a German citizen visiting the US for tourism or business reasons, you can stay for a maximum of 90 days without getting a visa, provided you’re using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). However, if you plan to stay for a longer duration or engage in other activities like work or study, you must apply for the relevant visa. The visa you receive will depend on its type, and it will have specific validity and duration.

  5. How much money do you need to immigrate to the USA?

    The cost of immigrating to the USA depends on the visa category and individual circumstances, with family-based immigration potentially having different financial requirements compared to employment-based visas. The range of costs is between $1,200 and $8,000, and the variation is due to the various available immigration options with different financial requirements.

  6. What is the process for obtaining a Green Card through family reunification in the USA?

    Obtaining a Green Card through family reunification involves a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsoring a close family member. Eligibility and requirements depend on the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary. The petitioner must submit the necessary forms and supporting documents to USCIS.

  7. Are Germans migrating to the US eligible for the affordable care act?

    ACA is a healthcare reform law in the US. It provides comprehensive health insurance for U.S. citizens and legal residents. German citizens aren’t eligible for ACA benefits unless they become U.S. citizens or green card holders.
    Once they become U.S. residents, they will be subject to the same healthcare laws and requirements as other residents. This means they may qualify for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid, or employer-sponsored plans.

  8. Can German citizens apply for dual citizenship if they become US citizens?

    Indeed, Germany is among the few countries that permit dual citizenship, enabling you to maintain your German citizenship even after acquiring US citizenship. Similarly, the US also allows dual citizenship, allowing German citizens to hold both German and US citizenship concurrently.

Editorial Team - HomeAbroad
About the authors:

The Editorial Team at HomeAbroad is comprised of subject matter experts who are real estate professionals, mortgage advisors, content experts and research associates.

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