Category Archives: News

We Were Chosen as a Top Corporate Training Company in Virginia!

We here at Golden Beacon USA are always honored to be featured in the media, and this time is no exception! We are so excited that Boove Online Book Magazine selected us as one of 2021’s Top Corporate Training Companies and Platforms in Virginia!

You can check out the article here!

Our training solutions, including our webinars and free YouTube videos, not only serve individuals, but also organizations and companies who have immigrant clients and/or employees. These include non-profits, government agencies, libraries, real estate agencies, International Student Offices at colleges and universities, Workforce Development Centers and Adult Education Centers. Our videos cover a variety of topics, including American culture, laws, and local social, education, legal, and healthcare resources in their community, in order to help newcomers feel more at home in their new country.

Interested in setting up a custom webinar for your organization or company? Contact us today with a call or text to (866) 403-7173 or e-mail Laura at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com. If you are interested in enrolling in one of our webinars, the 2021 webinar schedule and registration instructions will be available on the website in the coming weeks. Please check back soon!

How Immigrants Can Stay Safe in the US

The US is a dream destination for so many people around the world. But with protests, gun violence, and natural disasters such as wildfires always in the news, more and more immigrants are realizing how essential it is to make safety their number one priority in their newly adopted country.

Your safety and security depends on where you choose to start your American dream. Quality of life, crime rates, and weather conditions vary widely across the nation. For example, more crimes are committed in urban, metropolitan areas than in rural ones.

How safe is the USA?

The US is no stranger to crime. The Global Peace Index of 2019, which measures the peacefulness and general safety of 163 nations worldwide, ranks the US 128th.

But, when you look closer at the statistics, US crime rates have been falling steadily since the 1990s. With this decrease in crime comes an increase in foreigners’ trust in America as a safe place to work, live and travel. According to the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, there were 37 million foreign tourists in the US in 2019. British nationals alone account for 3.8 million visitors to the country per year.

No matter if you are an immigrant, asylum seeker, or native-born American, you can help keep America’s reputation as a safe place to work, live and travel by following the tips below. Please keep in mind that these tips are not to scare you but to avoid your becoming another crime statistic in a country with which you may not be entirely familiar.

Pay attention to your surroundings

Everyone these days walks around either looking down at their phone or with earbuds in to listen to music. Little do these unsuspecting people know that they are prime targets for theft and possibly violence. Therefore, we advise that you always stay alert to your surroundings, especially in large towns and cities. In addition, keep your belongings close to you with money belts or anti-theft purses. Men should carry their wallets in their front pocket to avoid pickpocketers. If you do get robbed (also known as ‘mugging’), just give them your belongings. Fighting with the robbers could result in violence.

Visiting a popular tourist site in the U.S. or using the local transit system? Be hypervigilant here, as theft is more commonplace in these areas. Do not leave your bags unattended either, giving a thief the perfect opportunity to steal your belongings quickly. Always take your bag(s) with you wherever you go or, if you are with someone, ask him or her to watch your bags. Do not ask someone you do not know to look after your bags.

Do your research

Read up on the area you’re staying in. You should be aware of any recent incidents that have happened in the neighborhood or city. Laws also differ between states so if you’re constantly on the move, you should do your research on every new location you visit.

If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, for example, it’s worth noting that the US – in general – is a very safe and progressive nation. However, smaller and often rural communities tend to be more conservative when it comes to same-sex couples. So again, do your research beforehand.

In addition, the legality of marijuana varies between states, so it is essential to learn the laws of the state you are in. In California, recreational use is legal, but other states may have stricter laws. Stay away from other drugs. Anything other than weed is considered illegal under state and federal law. Simply having illegal drugs on your person can get you deported or put in jail.

Be street smart

Always think twice before you put yourself in a vulnerable position. Lock doors to deter intruders and never give out your Social Security Number to strangers. Only use ATMs in safe areas, during the day, or in well-lit surroundings at night. Remember to stay aware of your surroundings. Do not give anyone your PIN, or personal identification number, which accesses your bank account. Only you and you alone should know that number.

Try to avoid taking shortcuts at night if you don’t know a neighborhood very well. Do not walk through small, dark alleyways. Google Maps will usually direct you along the safest routes.

You should not only stay alert to your surroundings but also to the local culture of the area. Everyday life and points of view in California, on the west coast, are very different from everyday life and points of view in Iowa, which is located in the Midwestern part of the United States. It is imperative to do your research on the local culture and learn about the issues that may be affecting the community you will be living in.

Pay attention to weather warnings

Certain parts of the country are often victim to extreme weather events like earthquakes, storms, forest fires, or tornadoes. Earthquakes and forest fires often happen out west while tornadoes and storms tend to occur in the Midwest. States along the Atlantic coast, such as North Carolina, and the Gulf of Mexico, such as Florida, tend to experience the highest number of hurricanes.

To adequately plan, look up weather forecasts online for your target area before you travel. The impending arrival of a natural disaster will be featured everywhere, from weather websites to the national and local news stations, in order to give residents fair warning. Remember that travel to the affected areas may be halted as well, so you may not be able to fly or take a bus or train to your destination if there is a severe weather warning. The weather in the US can change drastically, so don’t just check by looking out your window.

Don’t go off the radar

You should always let someone know where you are at any one time should any problems occur. Share your plans with your family or friends, text or call them when you arrive at your destination, and give them the name and address of the place where you will be staying. If you were to ever get into trouble, this information will allow them to come to your aid as soon as possible.

Let Golden Beacon USA help you!

Are you looking for more guidance when it comes to learning about life in America? Golden Beacon USA is here to help make your transition as easy as possible, even in the midst of COVID-19! Our Resource Referrals and e-learning videos on American culture and resources are here to help make your transition as easy as possible! Contact us today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!

How Immigrants Can Prepare For a Job Interview

If you want a job in the United States, chances are you’ll have to go through the job interview process first. Most job interviews are face-to-face, usually at the employer’s office, but others may be conducted remotely over the internet. No matter the medium, we have some tried and true rules to follow when preparing for an interview that will give you the best chances of success!

What should I wear to a job interview?

Ensure the clothes that you’ll wear for your interview are ready and laid out the day before. The last thing you want is to be stressing over clothes on the morning of your big day. Most job interviews require a formal dress code unless they specifically say otherwise. Formal is just another word for business wear, so a suit is appropriate for a man and a woman, or for the latter, a dress with a blazer.

Suits and dresses should not be flashy. You should be making a statement with your personality, not your clothes. Keep your outfit muted with colors such as black, grey, white, or navy so it doesn’t serve as a distraction. The same rule applies to accessories, including scarves, ties, tights, shoes, and bags.

Women should keep jewelry to a minimum and wear shoes with a heel no more than three inches. Do not show cleavage as this can be seen as unprofessional.

For men, ties should be appropriate (no cartoon characters, for example), and shirts should be white or pale blue. Your suit needs to fit you well, so get yourself measured by a professional tailor. Tailored suits can be expensive so ask about sale items and shop around.

What is business casual?

On the other hand, your interviewer may ask you to dress ‘business casual.’ This may sound confusing and counterintuitive, but there are a few rules you can follow to make sure you dress the part. Do not wear jeans or sneakers but try black, navy, or khaki pants. Start with formal wear and work backwards. For men, you may not need a suit jacket or tie, but a collared shirt is a must. For women, pair a nice blouse with formal trousers or a skirt. A dress that is not too showy is also a great option.

What questions will I be asked in the interview?

You won’t know ahead of time the exact questions the interviewer will ask, but taking adequate time to prepare for your interview beforehand is essential to your success. The interviewer will be able to tell rather quickly if you have come unprepared, which implies that you have no motivation or enthusiasm for the job. To get an inkling for the potential questions the interviewer will ask, start by researching the company yourself. What’s their main selling point? What will you be doing in this role? What is their workplace culture like? What are their values? Better yet, if you know someone who works at the company or find one of their employees on LinkedIn, you can always send them a message or chat with them to get a better idea of what to expect. It’s also a good idea to reach out to your interviewer to ask if there are any specific tasks they would like you to complete ahead of the interview.

What is the best way to prepare my answers?

Practice makes perfect. Most interviews are only 30 minutes long. That may seem like a vast amount of time when you’re waiting for a bus, but at a job interview, it races by. Make sure you know your best qualities and can share these in a short but meaningful way. You shouldn’t be rambling or coming up with new ideas in an interview. Instead, prepare answers in your head beforehand that share your strengths.

You should also be aware of one of the most common question that employers like to ask: “What are your weaknesses?” The interviewer is checking for two personal traits with this question: your self-awareness and your approach to obstacles in the past and how you overcame them. There is no ‘right’ answer and you can choose between a hard skill such as writing and a soft skill like delegating tasks. Make sure it is workplace-related and don’t use a weakness wherein you essentially compliment yourself, such as “I am a perfectionist” or “I work too hard.” Pick a weakness that is unrelated to a critical skill or task you will be performing on the job. For example, a person interviewing at an advertising agency should not highlight his inability to be creative.

Turn your weakness into a positive by explaining what you are currently doing to improve it, with concrete examples. For example, maybe you have trouble delegating tasks and have realized that doing it all yourself actually slows down progress on a project. To work on this, you have enrolled in a management seminar or started delegating one or two small tasks a day to someone else.

In addition to the weaknesses question, there are several common interview questions that you can prepare for that are specific to your industry. For example, if you’re hoping to work in the hospitality trade, google ‘most common hospitality job interview questions’ to get started.

How do I make a good first impression?

A great first impression is vital in interviews. Get to the interview early so you have enough time to park, find the place, check in, and prepare yourself. When you enter the interview room, make sure you arrive with enthusiasm and passion. Thank your interviewers for their time. Remember, they could be interviewing many candidates throughout the day. If your interview is in-person, usually you would greet your interviewers with a friendly handshake. This may not always be the case, especially because of COVID-19, so instead it’s best to follow specific instructions given to you by your interviewer.

If your interview is online, make sure you have prepared adequately beforehand. Does your web camera and microphone work? If you know your interview will take place over Zoom or Skype, ensure you are already familiar with these applications so you can quickly handle any potential issues. Your webcam must be switched on. Employers would like to see your face and may not feel comfortable without video. Be sure to sit in a quiet area, alone, and without any background noise. Turn off your cell phone notifications and if you are in front of a computer, close any websites you may have up that could distract you.

What about my immigration status?

If you have a green card or an approved H-1B visa, then you are authorized to work in the US. If this applies to you, tick this box on the application. If you are unauthorized to work in the United States, tick the ‘other’ box and explain your situation to the interviewer when asked. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against candidates, but they’re also not permitted to offer jobs to candidates who are not authorized to work in the US.

During your interview, use your experience as an immigrant to your advantage. You have already proven that you are willing to take risks and be independent. Though you don’t want to focus on any negatives, share the obstacles you’ve encountered in moving to America and how you’ve overcame them. The fact that you are searching for a job suggests that you want to stay here and build a life for you and your family. These are all positives unique to you. This shows the interviewer your tenacity, loyalty, and experience, which are all valuable traits employers are looking for in today’s workplace!

What should I do post-interview?

Before concluding the interview, be sure to ask questions of your own. Prepare 2 or 3 questions beforehand about the topics that matter the most to you. This could be about the workplace culture, the specific projects you will be working on, and what a typical day on the job looks like. Not asking any questions tells the interviewer that you’re not really interested in the job. Show them your enthusiasm!

At the end of the interview, the interviewer may give you a timeline regarding when you should expect to hear their hiring decision. Keep in mind that employers in America are not required to notify interviewees who were not selected for the job. Usually, the Human Resources department of large organizations, or sometimes even the interviewer, send their regrets through e-mail or you may not hear back from them at all. It is up to the individual employer’s policies whether or not they notify you about the decision.

In corporate America, it is usually frowned upon to call employers and ask for an update on your hiring status. Companies may say “no phone calls, please” on the job application or remind you at the end of the interview that only the job candidate to be hired will be notified. If the interviewer doesn’t give you a timeline, don’t be afraid to ask! Before leaving, remember to thank him or her for their time and reiterate your interest and enthusiasm for the job. Post-interview, it is not uncommon to send a thank you note or an e-mail to the interviewer to once again thank them for their time and remind them of your interest in the job.

As a new immigrant or refugee to the United States, you will find that our robust economy offers a wealth of job opportunities. Following these interview tips will help increase your chances of landing your dream job.

Want to practice a mock interview? Looking for a job? Golden Beacon USA’s career coaching services are here to help you find, apply, and interview for your dream job! Contact us today at info@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173 to get started!

5 Must-Have Phone Apps for Immigrants

DISCLAIMER: Besides the links pertaining to our own products and services, Golden Beacon USA does not endorse nor is it affiliated with the companies, organizations or agencies and/or their products or services whose links are included in this post. In addition, we cannot control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in these links. Golden Beacon USA does not earn commissions from any of these entities. 

Life in the United States can seem incredibly confusing from the moment you arrive. From our greetings and culture to our healthcare system and grocery stores, everything in America will be very alien to you. Understanding a completely new way of life is going to take some time. However, there are tools out there to help speed up this process and are readily available anytime, anywhere!

Whether you’re new to the USA or are still trying to settle in, here’s Golden Beacon USA’s round up of the five best apps for immigrants. You can download all of the apps below for free, although some may have premium features that require a small fee or subscription to access. Each app is available on both the App Store and Google Play.

Tarjimly

If you’re struggling with the language barrier, then we can’t recommend Tarjimly enough. Tarjimly means ‘translate for me’ and was founded in 2017 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the US Refugee & Travel Ban.

The app allows any multilingual speaker to remotely volunteer their time and skills to act as a translator and interpreter for any immigrant or displaced person. A refugee, asylum seeker, or humanitarian worker can request a translation for a specific language. Then Tarjimly uses its algorithm to select the ideal volunteer. The volunteer is connected via live chat and can exchange texts and documents with clients and even accept video calls.

Notifica

This app acts as a virtual panic button for undocumented immigrants experiencing an ICE raid anywhere in the US. In an emergency, family, friends, and immigration lawyers can all be contacted quickly and securely.

A user can add pre-written messages into the app, which are secured with a PIN or personal identification number. If a user is in a compromising situation, they can send all the messages with the quick tap of a button instead of typing them out individually. Once all the messages are sent, the app’s data is erased. You can also share your location privately, making it easier for your Defense Network to defend you.

Unit Converter

Did you know that less than 10 countries — including the United States — use the Fahrenheit scale for measuring temperature, and only three countries measure distance in inches and feet? Chances are, you’re used to the metric system. Sadly, most Americans aren’t.

Unit Converter quickly solves this problem. The app quickly calculates the conversion on your phone, making it easier for you to gauge the temperature outside or set your oven correctly for baking.

And what’s more, the free version of the app still converts plenty of the most common conversions including currency, area, data, mileage, power, pressure and speed.

USCIS: Civics Test Study Tools

This app, made by the USCIS Department of Homeland Security, is the perfect tool for anyone studying for their naturalization civics exams. The app provides flash cards on 100 different civics questions, covering topics like U.S. history and geography.

You also have the option to take a practice civics test to see if you can pass the real exam. A must-have app to calm any pre-test nerves!

Google

OK we’re cheating a bit here and we’re going to put three apps in one. Many of these applications may already be downloaded onto your phone, but it’s useful to have all three as handy shortcuts on your home screen.

First, Google Translate. Chances are you’ve probably used this app before, as it’s a great resource with a straightforward interface that translates over 90 languages instantly. It’s not always grammatically perfect, but it’s ideal if you want to be understood in an unfamiliar language in real time.

Google Maps and Google Streetview are perfect for anybody moving to a new city, whether you are from the USA or not. You can look up local bus and train routes and view the waiting times at each stop. If you’re feeling hungry, you can check the opening times and menus of restaurants nearby. You can even download maps ahead of time to save your data.

Living in an entirely new country means having a lot of questions. Google Assistant has the answers for you (literally!) Ask the Assistant anything and it’ll search the answer for you and read back the top result. This is incredibly useful if a local person is describing something to you and you want them to show it to you on Google, but you don’t want to give them your phone. Simply ask if they’ll repeat their words into your phone’s microphone and Google Assistant will take care of the rest.

New to America and looking for guidance? That’s where we come in. Let Golden Beacon USA help make your transition as easy as possible, even in the midst of COVID-19! With our e-learning videos on American culture and local resources, career coaching, ESL tutoring, and resource referrals, we’ll have you feeling at home in your new country in no time! Contact us today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

 

How Do Immigrants Open Up Bank Accounts in the United States?

DISCLAIMER: The following content is for educational and informational purposes only. Laura Marenco is not a financial professional and the following is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice. Each bank has its own unique requirements. Always seek the advice of a financial professional with any questions you may have. Besides the links pertaining to our own products and services, Golden Beacon USA does not endorse nor is it affiliated with the companies, organizations or agencies and/or their products or services whose links are included in this post. Golden Beacon USA does not earn commissions from any of these entities. In addition, every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of this content. However, the content below and in the links is subject to change at any time without notice. Laura Marenco and Golden Beacon USA assume no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content provided below. The information contained in this blog is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness and without warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied. Reliance on any of the information found in the content below is solely at your own risk.

Wondering how to get a head start financially in your new country? Open a bank account! A bank account is a service offered by a financial institution that holds your money safely and records any activity made between you and the bank, such as putting in (depositing) or taking out (withdrawing) money. If the bank fails or loses your money during an economic downturn, for example, up to $250,000 of your money is insured by the US government and will be replaced. In the United States, everyone, including immigrants and refugees, can open a bank account. Banks will not ask and should not ask for your immigration status. To help you get started with this important first step, we encourage you to read our guide below on the ins and outs of how to open a bank account in the U.S.!

What Are the Different Types of Bank Accounts?

A checking account and savings account are the two common types of bank accounts offered in the United States. A checking account is a deposit account that allows you to make daily transactions such as deposits and withdrawals. This account can be accessed using checks, automated teller machines, or ATMs, and electronic debit cards issued by the bank. On the other hand, a savings account stores money for use at a later time, such as during an emergency. You can also earn interest through savings accounts. Interest is what a bank pays you in exchange for letting them hold on to your money. Just like your checking account, you can access your savings through ATMs and your debit card. Please note that if you are under the age of 18, banks will require an adult to open the bank account with you.

What to Know Before Opening a Bank Account

Before opening a bank account, make sure you do plenty of research online first. We recommend that you choose a bank local to you. During your search, check that you have picked a bank without any hidden fees or annual fees. There is no reason to pay for a bank account. The bank is already holding your money!

Also, look for an account with good interest rates. Remember, for credit cards, you want the lowest interest rate possible so you don’t pay more than you already owe. But for bank accounts, you want the highest interest rate possible so you can accumulate more money into your account.

What Do Immigrants Need in Order to Open a Bank Account?

Every bank is different, and each one will have different requirements for opening a new account. However, in general, banks are required by law to obtain the following information from you in order to open an account:

  • Proof of Identity (Name and Date of Birth)
  • Proof of Address
  • Identification Number

Proof of Identity and Address

Banks will generally ask you for proof of identity (name and date of birth) and address, for example, through a valid, government-issued photo ID. If you have lawful status, then a green card, driver’s license, or unexpired passport is a simple way to show both your identity and address. If you are undocumented, you can still open up a bank account by providing your birth certificate or passport from your home country to prove your identity. In addition, some U.S. cities, such as Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, provide municipal identification cards to undocumented immigrants or those without a driver’s license or passport in order to prove their identity and address. A utility (water or electricity) bill or lease agreement that lists your address can also serve as proof.

Identification Number

Banks will also request an identification number from you. Your Social Security Number (SSN), which is the most common identification number in the US, will suffice in most cases. An SSN is a unique 9-digit number the US government assigns to U.S. citizens and eligible residents. The number helps the government keep track of your lifetime earnings and the number of years worked, so that when you retire or if you become disabled, you can start receiving Social Security benefits as income. You are eligible for an SSN if you are a(n):

  • Lawful permanent resident (“green card holder”)
  • Asylee
  • Refugee
  • Immigrants on certain types of work visas
  • Naturalized US citizen

Visit your local Social Security office to request a Social Security Number.

If you are undocumented, do not have an SSN or are not eligible for one, another option is to provide the bank with your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. ITINs are given out by the US government’s tax agency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS will give ITINs to foreign nationals who are working in the US and paying taxes. You can apply for an ITIN at the same time that you file federal taxes to the IRS.

Once I provide this information, then what?

The final step in opening your bank account is to fund it! You can make your first deposit with cash, a check or money order, transferred funds from another account, or through direct deposit from your employer. Direct deposit allows your employer to transfer your earnings directly into your bank account instead of mailing a check to you.

After funding your account and before you leave the bank, remember to ask the bank associate when you should expect your bank debit card to arrive in the mail and how to order personal checks. Checks are usually an additional fee, but you can compare costs by checking out the prices at your financial institution, online check printers, and at big-box stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club.

Opening a bank account is one of the smartest financial moves you can make when you move to America. If you need assistance taking this big step, such as finding a financial planner, or learning more about life in America, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Golden Beacon USA’s Resource Referrals and e-learning videos on American culture and resources are here to help make your transition as easy as possible. Contact me today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!

 

The 7 Best Cities in the U.S. for Immigrants

The United States is home to some of the world’s most famous cities. From the metropolis of New York to the bright lights of Las Vegas, there’s something for everyone across our 50 states. While every city has its unique charm, some places are friendlier towards immigrants than others.

When researching a relocation destination, make sure you know the rights you have there, what the community is like, and the local cost of living, or the amount of money needed to cover basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes, and healthcare. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 best cities for immigrants to start living their American Dream.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee’s affordability is its biggest selling point. The average living costs are well below the national average, meaning you can save a significant amount of your salary as you climb up the earnings ladder.

Another plus for Milwaukee: it is one of the few cities in the U.S. with a municipal I.D. program for undocumented immigrants. This program gives all residents of Milwaukee photo identification, providing them with another form of proof of residency and access to city (not state) services regardless of immigration status.

And, according to Business Insider, Milwaukee’s immigrant-friendly policies don’t end there. A city policy limits law enforcement officials’ cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by refusing to honor the agency’s non-legally binding requests to detain suspected unauthorized immigrants in certain cases.

Baltimore, Maryland

Looking to live near a body of water? Check out Baltimore, another U.S. city that has become increasingly immigrant-friendly. At the beginning of her term in 2010, former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake set a goal of increasing the city’s population by 10,000 families over the next 10 years by opening the door to more immigrant families.

The city has also established rules that prohibit police and other government officials from asking residents about their immigration status.

San Francisco, California

This city is a must-have on our list. Although its cost of living is 62.6% higher than the national average, the Californian city boasts some of the most immigrant-friendly programs and initiatives.

As a traditional hub for immigrants, the locals are some of the friendliest in the nation when it comes to helping foreigners. In addition, the city hosts a dedicated Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs where immigrants can receive assistance with legal, financial, and citizenship application matters. Like Milwaukee, it has a strong municipal I.D. program that provides discounts at local businesses and access to city services such as public libraries. In case of emergency, each resident’s I.D. card also lists his or her medical conditions, allergies, and emergency contact information.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s population has a high proportion of immigrants, with one-fifth of residents born outside of the U.S. One of Seattle’s biggest attractions for newcomers is its citywide Ready to Work program, which helps build basic job retention skills and get students into the city’s workforce quickly.

The program is so successful the Department of Labor described it as a “best practice model on how to leverage workforce funding to support immigrant integration in the labor force.”

New York, New York

New York may be one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. and in the world, but its immigrant-friendly city programs make it a top attraction for newcomers.

The Big Apple offers a wide range of language access policies requiring state agencies that provide public services to offer interpretation and translation services for those with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). In addition, New York hosts the nation’s most extensive municipal I.D. program. This free program for residents ages 10 and up provides access to a wide variety of city services and programs plus benefits and discounts offered by businesses and cultural institutions across the five boroughs. It’s no surprise New York is often seen as the gateway to the U.S.

San Jose, California

For the last decade, San Jose has rolled out several measures to assist immigrants who have settled in the area, whether legally or illegally.

In 2017, according to Mercury News, Santa Clara County supervisors agreed to invest about $1.5 million over two years toward legal aid for undocumented immigrants in danger of deportation by the then-incoming Trump administration.

Chicago, Illinois

Want all the sanctuary policies of New York, but without the incredibly high cost of living? Then Chicago might be the place for you.

Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance means the Windy City, as it is commonly called, will not ask you about your immigration status, disclose that information to authorities, or, most importantly, deny you City services based on your immigration status.

 

Are you looking for guidance when it comes to learning about life in America? Golden Beacon USA’s Resource Referrals and e-learning videos on American culture and resources are here to help make your transition as easy as possible! Contact me today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!

Top 7 Sights to See in the U.S. Post-Lockdown

With the announcement of a COVID-19 vaccine that is currently 90% effective, it appears there may be a light at the end of the tunnel in the final months of 2020. And as lockdowns and isolation periods around the world are beginning to end, it seems like travel may indeed be a possibility in 2021. So, with our fingers crossed, we here at Golden Beacon USA recommend the following seven must-see sights to visit in America post-Covid19.

The Empire State Building – New York City

There is so much to do in the Big Apple, or the nickname for America’s largest city. The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway, Central Park – you can spend days visiting all of NYC’s attractions! But the one place where you can see all of this magnificent city is at the top of the Empire State Building, formerly the tallest building in the world. Take the elevator to the top deck of this 102-story building to take in a sensational view of New York City. Afterwards, be sure to check out the building’s rich history and art deco design that has also made it a famous landmark.

The Grand Canyon – Arizona

Speaking of unforgettable views, very few will beat the deep ravines of the Grand Canyon. Carved by the unforgiving Colorado River, this steep-sided canyon in rural Arizona is a must-see. It will give you and your family a chance to witness the pure, earth-moving power of Mother Nature. It’s a fantastic trip no matter the time of day or year, but if you want the unparalleled beauty America has to offer, visit this natural attraction at sunrise or sunset. You’ll thank us later.

Yellowstone – Wyoming

Keeping with our theme of natural sights, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Yellowstone National Park. Hike a trail, watch for wildlife, hop on a bike or a horse; there’s so much to do in this vast corner of Wyoming. On the site of a supervolcano, Yellowstone is also home to some incredible geological features. Explore the thermal basins to witness hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and geysers up close.

Fenway Park – Boston

Few things are more American than going to the ballpark and watching a game of baseball. If you’re a sports fan and you want your fix of US pastimes, a visit to any baseball field is a must. But if you want to visit an iconic American baseball field, we recommend Fenway Park, home of the Boston Redsox. Few stadiums have more prestige and history spread throughout its corridors than Fenway. Book a stadium tour to learn about the heroics of Babe Ruth or purchase a ticket to a Major League Baseball game and experience an atmosphere like no other.

The White House – Washington DC

There’s something almost otherworldly about Washington DC. This purpose-built city hosts the most powerful person in the world, along with the US Congress and the Supreme Court. But if you’ve only got time to snap up a shot of one building in the capital, make it the White House. Generations of prestige and history are all squeezed into one place that symbolizes both American freedom and democracy. Want to take a look inside? You can even take a tour of this historic building! If you are a foreign national, contact your embassy in Washington, D.C. to submit a tour request.

French Quarter – New Orleans

A place most Americans hope to visit in their lifetimes, the French Quarter is the heart and soul of New Orleans. It’s a must-visit for its architecture, unique energy, street performers, jazz clubs, restaurants, and nightlife. If you want to experience a lively culture celebrating the very best of our nation’s diversity, then the French Quarter is the place for you.

Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco

It was extraordinary when it was built, and it still holds that accolade today. The Golden Gate Bridge is the most famous landmark in San Francisco for a reason. The Frommer’s travel guide describes the Golden Gate Bridge as “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.” Sure, you can cross it by car, but how about booking a ferry trip to travel right under the famous landmark and take in its beauty?

Are you looking for guidance when it comes to learning about life in America? Golden Beacon USA’s Resource Referrals and e-learning videos on American culture and resources are here to help make your transition as easy as possible! Contact us today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!

Why is America Called the Melting Pot?

Have you ever heard of the phrase “the melting pot” to describe the effects of the American immigration system?

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the United States of America became known worldwide as the great melting pot. Immigrants came to this country with the idea in their hearts and minds that they could become Americans no matter their origins.

Symbols like the Statue of Liberty represent this idea, but nothing quite sums up what it means to be an American like the concept of a “melting pot” of cultures, mixing, merging, and becoming stronger than each individual one. It’s a celebrated part of the American national identity and a reason why the United States is one of the most attractive countries for immigrants and refugees around the world.

But what IS the melting pot? And how did the phrase fall into common usage?

What is the Melting Pot?

The melting pot is at the heart of the American immigration system. The melting pot comes from the idea that all of the cultural differences in the United States meld together, as if they were metals being melted down to become a stronger alloy.

Rather than embracing multiculturalism, as is the policy in Canada and some other countries, the United States encourages different cultures to assimilate into its own. In fact, this philosophy demonstrates how American culture got its start.

As immigrants came from all over the world to the United States, they brought pieces of their own culture with them. Their music, food, fashion, religion, and much more slowly became part of America’s culture.

For example, pizza came from Italy, but it’s hard to think of anything more American than a slice of New York pizza. Rock & Roll, Blues, and Jazz all came from the African American musical tradition, but they are thought of as American today.

Where Did the Phrase Come From?

The phrase “melting pot” has been used since the 1780s, but entered into common usage because of a celebrated Broadway play.

“The Melting Pot,” written by Israel Zangwill in 1904, was about a Russian Jewish refugee immigrating to the U.S. to escape ethnic cleansing in his homeland. Here he finds love, acceptance, and belonging, as the differences between ethnicity “melted away” due to cultural exchange becoming the norm.

The play was a massive hit, and even received the praise of then-President Theodore Roosevelt. The idea of the “melting pot” was embraced and soon became a central part of the United States of America’s cultural identity.

What Does the Melting Pot Mean Today?

Today, immigration to the United States is considerably more complicated than it was over a hundred years ago, but the philosophy is still the same.

This country welcomes people from all over the world and encourages them to integrate themselves into American society. The only problem is that American society is more complicated than ever!

When an immigrant moves here, they will need to learn about all of America’s societal, economic, and cultural norms. For example, if their understanding of English is limited, they’re encouraged to take an English as a Second Language class (ESL) to better communicate with other Americans. That’s the reason why Golden Beacon USA exists. We want to help immigrants and refugees learn about the United States so they can succeed here.

We know how scary it can be to move to a new country, which is why we offer resources like career coaching, workshops, resource referrals, and much more. We will be with you every step of the way on your journey to becoming an American!

If you’re looking for more information about how Golden Beacon USA can help, we invite you to contact us. With our extensive educational videos and other services, we can help make the transition to your new home an easy one! Just send an email to laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. We can’t wait to help you begin your journey!

 

How Do I Vote for the First Time in the United States?

DISCLAIMER: Besides the links pertaining to our own products and services, Golden Beacon USA does not endorse nor is it affiliated with the companies, organizations or agencies and/or their products or services whose links are included in this post. In addition, we cannot control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in these links. Golden Beacon USA does not earn commissions from any of these entities. 

In the United States, the government gets its power to govern from the people. American citizens influence the government and its policies, so it’s vital that U.S. residents learn about critical public issues and get involved in their communities. U.S. citizens vote in free elections to choose essential government officials, such as the president, vice president, senators, and representatives. Our government and laws are organized so that citizens from different backgrounds and different beliefs all have the same rights. No one can be punished or harmed for having an opinion or belief that is different from that of other people. And no one can be denied the right to vote based on their sex, race, ethnicity, or religious background.

Why is It Important to Vote?

Your vote can decide who becomes the next leader of the United States. It may seem like small numbers of votes won’t make a difference when elections can be won by a candidate with votes in the millions. Still, we only have to look at the most recent elections to realize just how different things would be if more people had voted for an alternative candidate.

In 2000, Democratic Presidential nominee Al Gore narrowly lost the Electoral College vote to the Republican Presidential nominee George W. Bush. The winner of this election was determined by a recount in Florida, where Bush had won the popular vote by such a small margin that it triggered an automatic recount and a Supreme Court case (Bush v. Gore). It was decided that Bush won Florida by 0.009 percent of the votes cast in the state, or 537 votes. Had 600 more voters gone to the polls in Florida that November, there may have been an entirely different president.

Voting is a fundamental process in a democratic system. It is a chance for a country’s citizens to have a say in the people who represent them or an issue that impacts them. Informed voting and participation in elections is one of the responsibilities of citizens of the United States.

How Do I Register to Vote?

In the United States, the voting process is relatively simple. First, an eligible citizen who is 18 years or older registers to vote in their state, studies the candidates and issues, locates their local polling station, and then casts their ballot on Election Day, which is always the first Tuesday after November 1st.

To register to vote, visit vote.gov. Depending on your state’s voter registration rules, the site can help you:

  • Register online. This is available for 40 states plus the District of Columbia.
  • Download the National Mail Voter Registration Form. You can fill it out online and print the completed form, or print the blank form and fill it out by hand. Remember to sign the form before mailing it to the location listed for your state. The website provides this form in 15 languages.
  • Find guidance for states and territories with different registration procedures.
  • Start your Voter Registration.

 

 

What Do I Do at a Polling Station?

Remember, you can’t vote online and you can only vote once. To vote, you’ll either have to request a postal ballot (also known as an ‘absentee ballot’) or vote in person at a polling station. To find your polling place and its hours, contact your state or territorial election office. You can also check the Can I Vote website. Your polling place is based on your address. Only go to the one you’ve been assigned. Your name will not be on the roster at any other location.

Two-thirds of states expect you to provide identification in order to vote at the polls. Your state’s laws determine whether you will need to show an I.D., and if so, what kind.

Once in the polling stations, follow instructions on which voting booth to use and read the ballot carefully so you don’t vote for the wrong candidate! You can bring in notes to help you vote, but some polling stations will require your cell phone to be turned off.

When is the Next Election?

Federal elections take place every 4 years and the next federal election will take place on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. In this election, Americans decide on the president and vice-president, one third of the Senate, and all of the House of Representatives. State and local elections will also be on the ballot in many areas.

Who Should I Vote For?

That’s entirely up to you! Make sure you research the candidates and decide which ones best reflect your opinion on the issues you care about. Beware of voter intimidation, or when someone tries to influence your vote or prevent you from voting by creating a hostile environment verbally or physically. This is illegal and you should report it if you see it or it happens to you.

Voter intimidation encompasses a wide range of behaviors, such as questioning you about your criminal background or U.S. citizenship. Someone who spreads lies about voter requirements in order to deter people from voting is also considered voter intimidation. For example, you are not required to read, write, and speak English in order to vote in an American election and you have the right to a ballot in your native language.

If you have recently become a U.S. citizen, take advantage of your right to vote and influence the future of America. Let your voice be heard on November 3rd!

Are you looking for guidance when it comes to learning about life in America? Golden Beacon USA’s Resource Referrals and e-learning videos on American culture and resources are here to help make your transition as easy as possible! Contact us today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!

How to Prepare and Study for Your U.S. Citizenship Test

DISCLAIMER: Besides the links pertaining to our own products and services, Golden Beacon USA does not endorse nor is it affiliated with the companies, organizations or agencies and/or their products or services whose links are included in this post. In addition, we cannot control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in these links. Golden Beacon USA does not earn commissions from any of these entities. 

Is 2020 the year you plan to become a U.S. citizen? How exciting! Taking the U.S. Citizenship Test is a momentous occasion for immigrants and one that requires plenty of preparation.

As part of the naturalization process, an applicant for U.S. citizenship must pass a two-part test. The first part is an English test that assesses an applicant’s ability to read, write, and speak in the English language. The second is a civics test, evaluating an applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government.

Each applicant has two chances to take the exam, which usually takes place on the same day as the citizenship interview. It can be incredibly daunting but your friends at Golden Beacon USA are here to help you succeed! Keep reading for our useful guide on preparing for your U.S. Citizenship Test.

What to Expect on the English Exam

The English exam consists of three parts. The first test evaluates your English speaking skills. Here, an immigration officer will ask you simple questions about your application and evaluate your ability to speak and understand English.

Next up is an English reading test. An immigration officer will give you a digital tablet that will show three sentences, and you will be asked to read these out loud. You’re not expected to know every word, although it’s important that you don’t replace words with ones you do know. The immigration officer is looking to see if you understand the full meaning of the sentence.

Finally, you will complete a writing test where an immigration officer will read a sentence and ask you to write down what he says. A few misspellings or capitalization errors are allowed. Also, you can write out numbers, like seven, in word form or use symbols, i.e., 7. However, remember not to use any abbreviations as these will not count.

What to Expect on the Civics Test

With the Civics Test, you must demonstrate sufficient knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government by answering at least six out of 10 questions correctly. You will be asked questions randomly from a list of 100. You can see the complete list of questions asked on the civics test here (you may be able to find them in your own language too). You must study all 100 questions on the list — unless you’re aged 65 or older, in which case you’ll need to learn only the 20 questions marked with an asterisk (*).

How to Prepare

Studying well for these tests is critical if you want to become an American citizen. Our first piece of advice: start studying right away! The sooner you begin to familiarize yourself with the likely questions and necessary answers to these tests, the more confident you will feel when you take it. Starting early will give you a better chance of fixing any weaknesses you may have.

Another recommendation: read children’s books. Since most of the words and sentences you’ll come across on the English exam test your basic English skills, reading children’s books is an easy and fun way to prepare. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out English grammar videos on YouTube to help you understand the language better.

Finally, create some flashcards that’ll help you with the civics test. Write down any information you’re struggling to remember and study these cards whenever you have spare time – while eating breakfast, waiting for the bus, or at bedtime, for example. Write only one topic on each flashcard. When it comes to memorizing, it’s best to learn new information in smaller pieces.

Summary

Taking the U.S. Citizenship Test is a milestone in any immigrant’s journey towards making America his or her home. If you prepare well and in advance with the tips from our guide, passing this test will be easy for you. Looking for help preparing for the citizenship test? Check out Golden Beacon USA’s Resource Referrals to be matched with a tutor. Familiarize yourself with American culture by signing up for our e-learning videos subscription too! Have questions? Contact us today at laura@goldenbeaconusa.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!