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What’s an expat do?

Welcome to New York, but only if you plan for it.

Finding an apartment in New York if you’re an expat can be very difficult. Part of the problem is that the companies that do credit reports for renters aren’t able to access credit reports in most other countries. (Canada is an exception, as it is now tied in to Experian’s credit database.) Without a credit report, how is a landlord to know how trustworthy and credit worthy you are?

Plan ahead before you arrive . . .

  • Have your employer prepare a letter of employment for you, stating the US dollar value of your salary and benefits package.
  • Bring references from previous landlords. But sure to have their address and phone number if possible.
  • Bring several personal and business reference letters.
  • Have your banking account information with you, including a contact at your bank. Be sure to open a New York bank account a quickly upon your arrival in NY as you can.
  • Have a list of your credit cards and balances owed.
  • Have a photo copy of your passport that you can leave as identification.
  • Apply for a social security number before you arrive in the US. There is more information about applying here.
  • Have cash/certified checks at your disposal when you start looking for an apartment. Most landlords will require a certified check for at least the first month’s rent and a month’s security. Depending on your finances, you may be required to post more than that.
  • If you might need a guarantor, contact before you arrive. They may be just the ticket for you. If approved, it will make your searching easier.
  • Read the other sections of this Essential Guide for Smart Renters to get a good idea of what the rental process in New York is like.
  • There is now a corporate guarantor who will guarantee your lease - for a fee - that is generally less than a month’s rent. The company is We have a little more information about them here.

Remember, with, you can start your apartment search before you arrive in New York. You will be able to start discovering the neighborhoods of the city and figuring out which areas provide the most convenient public transportation to your work.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your apartment needs.

TIP:  You will only need a social security card if you plan to work in the US and your work visa has been approved. If you are planning on living in the US, but you will not be working, you do not need a social security number.

TIP:  To obtain your social security number, you will need at least two original documents proving your identity and immigration status, your work eligibility, age, you will need a completed application form.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies and notarized copies are not accepted.

TIP:  To prove your identity and immigration status, you must show your current U.S. immigration documents and your unexpired foreign passport. Acceptable immigration documents include your:

  1. Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport);
  2. Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record); or
  3. Forms I-766 or I-688B (employment authorization documents).

Exchange visitors: If you are a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, you need to show your DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.

International students: If you are an F-1 or M-1 student, you need to show your Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. For information on other documents students must provide, ask for International Students And Social Security Numbers (Publication No. 05-10181).

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