BY: NILÜFER LEUTHOLD
Entering the professional sphere in a new country can be scary, but remember that your foreign heritage and experiences are your strength! There are many employment opportunities in the US for foreign nationals, and these opportunities can be advantageous experiences as they give the chance to work in a different culture and meet new people.
Most foreign military spouses come to the US on a fiancé (K-1) visa. As a K-1 visa holder you can immediately apply for work permission by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS Service Center. This work authorization will be valid for only 90 days after entry. If you need to extend the authorization you will need to file Form I-765 and Form I-485 together as soon as you get married. Once you have your green card - you can work for however long that green card is valid for.
If you have a pending Form I-485 you may apply for an employment authorization by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS Service Center. The Application fee is $410 + $ 85 Biometric services fee.
Waiting for your green card or work authorization to be approved will most likely be a slow process. If you’re used to staying busy with work or other professional activities you may find yourself struggling during this period.
It’s OK – we’ve all been there. Try to stay busy by exploring your neighborhood, learning how to bake, playing an instrument or finding a new hobby. Remember to enjoy this time of your life as well, look at it as a well-earned vacation!
Volunteering/Internship is one of the best ways to stay busy and finding new friends while building your resume. It helps you meet new people and to establish a professional network. Remember one of these contacts could be the key to your dream job! Most military bases offer multiple volunteering opportunities – browse their website to find them.
Teachers: for foreign military spouses who are willing to teach in the US, they are required to be certified by the state where they want to work. Keep in my mind that each state has its own certification requirements. Also, as a foreign-educated spouse, you will need to get your diploma evaluated. Some states ask the foreign-educated teachers to take an exam or a list of exams to demonstrate reading, writing, speaking proficiency in the English language. Some states ask foreign-educated teachers to complete a certain number of university-level credit hours in education.
Lawyers: practicing law in the US can sometimes be difficult. Each state has different requirements. As a foreign-trainedlawyer, you will fall into two categories: 1) either your foreign education transfers to the US system, 2) or your foreign education does not transfer to the US. If your education transfers to the US system, you need to apply for permission to take the bar exam. If your foreign education doesn’t transfer to the US system, you will need to complete the LLM program with a certain qualification. Please check the requirements for the state where you wish to work.
Doctors: in order to practice medicine in the US, as a foreign- educated (doctor) spouses; 1) You need to have graduated from a foreign or US medical school, 2) you are required to be licensed by the state where you want to work, 3) you must have an unrestricted license to practice medicine in your own country, and 4) pass the appropriate examinations.
Engineers: foreign educated engineers must have their diplomas evaluated and get licensed for engineering in the US. License requirements differ from state to state, or; one engineering field to another. Please check out the requirements of the state where you wish to practice engineering.
Starting over is hard, but not impossible.
Being a military spouse is a graceful role, but it can get difficult when it comes to maintaining a career. You will live a life of uncertainty, making it challenging to be strategic. In addition, starting your new life with your servicemember did most likely put you in a situation where you had to quit your job and leave everything you've worked hard for.
Working or volunteering, whether it's serving coffee at Starbucks, walking dogs, or thriving in a big corporation, will help you assimilate and find purpose in your new home country.
Benefits of working
· Boost your confidence and give you a sense of identity and meaning
· Lead to new skills and improve your English
· Connect you with people and maybe a new friend
· Earning your own money is always a rewarding feeling. Treat yourself with a flight to go visit your family! Yes please!
So here you are. A foreigner in a new country. Maybe you have a degree and some work experience, maybe you don't. Either way, you will have great opportunities as a foreign military spouse! Why? Because the journey you've just accomplished shows how great you are!
Documents you need for employment:
Permanent Resident Card, or Employment Authorization Card
Driver’s License (not all employers request it) but try to get one as soon as you can, because for some employers it’s a must-have.
Social Security Card
Diploma translated or evaluated as some employers ask for an evaluation
Reference letters from former employers.
Most military bases offer FREE resume workshops and employment support. Browse the base website or ask your servicemember for help!