What is a good faith deposit?

A good faith deposit is sometimes required by landlords in New York. These deposits are paid to the landlord before the application has been processed and approved and proves that the applicant is serious about wanting to rent the apartment.

Good faith deposits are reimbursed to the applicant if the landlord decides to rent the apartment to someone else. If the application is approved, the good faith deposit is put towards first month’s rent or is used as a security deposit depending on the landlord’s policy.

Apartments in New York City are rented extremely quickly, therefore it is good to act fast when you find an apartment you are interested in. When applying for an apartment, submitting a good faith deposit with your application means that the property is taken off the market while your application is processed and ensures that the apartment will not be snatched up from under you.

Submitting a good faith deposit therefore has its benefits; however you should be sure about wanting to rent the property as you can lose the deposit if you decide to back out once you have applied. If you are hesitant about a couple of apartments it may be best not to put down a good faith deposit on one of them, as if you decide to move forward with another losing your deposit can put a dent in your plans.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, formally known as Decoration Day is a day of remembrance to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

This holiday originated after the Civil war to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers but was extended to honor all American soldiers by the 20th century.

Memorial Day is observed every year on the last Monday of May. It typically marks the start of summer, with Labor Day at the start of September marking its end.

Americans honor fallen soldiers on Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and placing flags and flowers on graves, visiting memorials and wearing red poppies. 

Cost of Living index

It is sometimes hard to estimate the financial impact moving to a new city will have. Using cost of living indices allows you to compare the financial differences between two cities and get a better idea of what to expect.

The consumer price index is an indicator of the price of consumer goods, which includes groceries, restaurants, utilities and transportation, however this index does not include expenses linked to accomodation. Rent, restaurant and local purchasing power indices can also help can a bet overall view of the cost of living in a new city.

In the following table each index is relative to New York City, which means that all indices for NYC are 100. Therefore for example, if rent in another city has an index of 80, it means that on average rent in that city is 20% less expensive than in New York City.

Source of data: Numbeo

The advantages of Renter’s insurance

A lot of uncertainty surrounds renter’s insurance. What is it? What does it cover? Is it worth the money? Despite its advantages, a 2014 Insurance Information Institute poll conducted by ORC International found that, among renters, only 37 percent said they had renters insurance compared to 95 percent of homeowners who had homeowners insurance. Being covered can make a huge difference in the event that something happens to your home and makes getting back on your feet a lot easier.

Renter’s insurance can be defined as a form of property insurance that provides coverage for a policyholder’s belongings and liability within a rental property. In short, renter’s insurance covers a great deal, (Liability, theft, damage to property, repairs, etc.)

The major points of coverage are Personal Property, Liability and Additional Living Expenses.

Personal property coverage is there to cover the expenses linked to replacing your personal belongings following a fire, burglary or other incident in the apartment. It applies to all daily use items, from the basic kitchen utensils to more expensive belongings.

Renter’s insurance also covers smoke or fire damage, vandalism, electrical issues, property stolen outside the property & damage from windstorms. It does not cover damages caused by earthquakes, floods or insects, nor does it cover damages done to the property by a guest.

Renter’s insurance, through its liability coverage also covers the cost of injuries sustained by guests in the tenant’s home. For example, if a guest injures themselves while in the property, the tenant is liable for medical costs and for costs linked to any potential lawsuit. Renter’s insurance can be used to cover the expenses when the accident was caused by the tenant’s negligence or actions

Additional living expense coverage protects from expenses caused by the inability to stay in the apartment. This includes the cost of living arrangements, eating out, and other expenses that stem from the fact that the apartment cannot be lived in. 

Compared to other insurance policies, renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive. An average policy costs around $16 per month in New York City and covers up to $30,000 in damages, which means that for less than $200 per year, a renter can be protected from unexpected damages and burglary. 

Insurance is a service we pay for and hope we never need to use. It is important to weigh the cost of going without coverage and the renters insurance cost; spending a little each month now may save thousands of dollars in the future. Coverage differs policy to policy so it is important to compare offers and read the small print in order to be sure that all needs are covered. Once you have found your new home, Expat US can assist you with taking out renter’s insurance.

Diversity, the overlooked advantage of relocating employees

Corporate relocations of employees has drastically increased over the last decade with more and more companies deciding to send their employees abroad. The reason motivating Human resource departments to relocate employees is often to address imbalances in their work forces, however it can also stem from a need to hire new employees for a new location or as a way to develop an employee’s competencies to improve their career path.

As mentioned in our previous article Global mobility: beneficial for both employees and employers, relocation is beneficial to all parties and increases a company’s effectiveness and productivity. However, a key factor that is often overlooked is the fact that it brings diversity to the workforce.

A Gallup study of more than 800 units from two companies from two different industries showed that businesses with a more gender diverse work force have on average 57% better financial outcomes overs workforces dominated by one gender.

Gender diversity is not the only type of diversity in the work place that leads to beneficial results. An age neutral work force, where different generations work hand in hand can lead to better communication between different age groups and the business reaps the benefits of the strengths and values of each group.

According to research led by the Harvard Business school, companies with diverse work forces made 18 to 69% more net income and 91% reported that customer satisfaction was higher. Sales performance was also proven to be higher at companies with a diverse team.

Through diversity a company appeals to a larger customer base, which improves the image of the business. Furthermore, this diversity allows the company to have different perspectives on issues both internally and externally and source ideas from a larger more creative group. Diversity in a work force also proves that the company does not discriminate which can increase its appeal to new candidates.

Increasing diversity in a work force can be a challenge as conflicts between the different members of the group can occur. Differences in opinions and work styles can lead to difficulties with teamwork and unproductive arguments.

By communicating with the workforce and giving all employees time to adapt, the difficulties companies encounter should be minimized. Relocating employees and adding more diversity to a business are a great way to improve effectiveness and are worth considering. 

The H1B Visa

The H1B Visa is a United States nonimmigrant visa. It allows a U.S. company to employ a foreign individual for up to six years and it may lead to a Green Card.

The purpose of the H-1B visa is to give U.S. employers the opportunity to hire foreign professionals if a U.S. citizen or resident is not available. In order for the H-1B visa to be issued, both the employer and employee must satisfy specific requirements.

Individuals are not able to apply for an H1B visa to allow them to work in the US. The employer must petition for entry of the employee. H1B visas are subject to annual numerical limits. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa. Employers can apply as soon as April for the FY cap, but the beneficiary cannot start work until October. In general, the cap is reached within the first week of applications, therefore emplyers must apply for their employees as soon as possible in order to be in with a chance of being included within the cap.

Employer Requirements

The job offer must be in a specialty occupation such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, etc.

There are criteria for wages offered and the actual job performed

No U.S. citizen or resident must be available for the job

The petition must be submitted by the company (not the employee)

To successfully complete this process, the employer must first attest that the H-1B visa worker is being paid, at minimum, what is called the “prevailing wage” for the job. The “prevailing wage” is defined by DOL rules as the average rate of wages paid to workers similarly employed in the area of intended employment. The prevailing wage is determined through the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). The following factors determine one’s prevailing wage:

Job title;

Educational and work experience requirements;

Job description;

Job location; and

Type of employer, (i.e. academic, government or private.)

Employee Requirements

The employer must show that the alien worker meets the specific educational requirements to be engaged in the specialty occupation. As a general rule, the alien worker must possess a Bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited college or university and the degree must be a requirement to qualify for the specialty occupation.

Duration of stay

The duration of stay is three years, extendable to six years. An exception to maximum length of stay applies in certain circumstances.

H-1B holders who want to continue to work in the US after six years, but who have not obtained permanent residency status, must remain outside of the US for one year before reapplying for another H-1B visa. Despite a limit on length of stay, no requirement exists that the individual remain for any period in the job the visa was originally issued for. This is known as H-1B portability or transfer, provided the new employer sponsors another H-1B visa, which may or may not be subjected to the quota. Under current law, H-1B visa has no stipulated grace period in the event the employer-employee relationship ceases to exist

Congressional yearly numerical cap

The current law limits to 65,000 the number of foreign nationals who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status each fiscal year. Laws exempt up to 20,000 foreign nationals holding a master’s or higher degree from U.S. universities from the cap on H-1B visas. In addition, excluded from the ceiling are all H-1B non-immigrants who work at (but not necessarily for) universities, non-profit research facilities associated with universities or government research facilities. This means that contractors working at, but not directly employed by the institutions may be exempt from the cap. However, if these reserved visas are not used, then they are made available in the next fiscal year to applicants from other countries. Due to these unlimited exemptions and roll-overs, the number of H-1B visas issued each year is significantly more than the 65,000 cap, with 117,828 having been issued in FY2010, 129,552 in FY2011, and 135,991 in FY2012.

Family & Dependents

H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H4 Visa category as dependents. An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status. While, an H4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US, they may attend school, obtain a driver's license and open a bank account while in the US.

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