Relocation as a professional couple can cause reassignment failure

Relocation as a professional couple can cause reassignment failure

Relocation as a professional couple can cause reassignment failure

Relocating along with your partner to the USA presents a good number of personal challenges for the majority of spouses.

Changes in the day-to-day lifestyle and long-term cultural integration are perhaps the trickiest issues for spouses accompanying their partners on relocation to the USA, especially if the accompanying spouse is planning to work as well. It’s not just getting to know the neighbours that can pose problems, especially for spouses who’re planning to enhance their own professional careers as well as supporting their partners’ efforts. Highly-qualified expat professionals invariably encounter challenges in both sectors of their lives, at work and in the home, with disorientation and isolation often the result.

Inbound expat spouses on relocation have the practical details taken care of by their employers, relieving them of concerns over visas, work permits, tax and other necessities and allowing them to take up their new positions as soon as they arrive. For their spouses, it’s a different story entirely, as the USA’s work authorisation process takes time and doesn’t start until the applicant is actually resident in the country. Oddly, dependant spouses can apply for the necessary documentation before they arrive, whilst spouses wanting to get work can’t start until they’re there. The process takes around 90 days to complete, with active job searches not able to be undertaken until the documentation arrives.

Some dependent visas don’t even allow expatriate spouses to work – even restricting volunteering in some cases - thus leaving spouses with an unfulfilled career trajectory and, in some cases, an understandable but distressing bout of stress-related depression. and recent efforts to cut the numbers of visas granted to foreigners are only making matters worse. Another problem is that many spouses were not aware of these restrictions when they decided to move to the US along with their partners, leaving those who’ve had successful careers to date out on the limb of being forced to do nothing. The end result of this dilemma often results in a failed relocation for the employed partner and, even worse, some couples decide divorce is the only answer.

A reassignment to the USA can be an amazing career opportunity, but stress at home can affect not just the relationship but also wreck both partners’ career paths. Couples relocating to major cities have a slightly easier adjustment time, but those taking on jobs in rural areas can have more problems, especially if city life was the norm before they relocated. The only solution to these issues is for the relocating company to realise the accompanying spouse is actually an equal partner in the deal, and has personal and professional needs which must be taken care of before the move takes place. This awareness is an essential part of relocation, and can ensure both the company and the couple get the most out of the move.

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