Now you have immigrated to New York, you need housing, healthcare, childcare, a job… Where to start?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you find an apartment to rent in New York City?

From the NYC government housing website: “Finding an apartment in New York City can be a daunting process…. How do apartment hunters actually find a place to live in New York City? Check out our Top Ten List to see the most common ways New Yorkers find apartments.” Through brokers, word-of-mouth, classified ads, walking around, the housing office, apartment referral service, finding a vacant apartment in the same building, going on waiting lists, community groups, apartment guides… Click here to find out more about each of these ways.

Most landlords will ask to check your credit history. Since most recent immigrants do not yet have a credit history in this country, it is quite an obstacle… You may want to get recommended by someone to a landlord, or have a financial affidavit letter signed by a friend or a relative who have a credit history.

How can I apply for free healthcare insurance?

Immigrants with legal permanent status can apply for public health insurance like Medicaid. Income limits apply as Medicaid is intended for low-income individuals and families. Read more about health insurance on our previous post here.

How do I find free or low-cost childcare?

Child care services can be pretty expensive. You may qualify for EarlyLearn subsidized childcare services for children between 6 weeks and 5 years old: check the eligibility here. On the same website there are lists of subsidized childcare centers in each NYC borough.

You can also search a general directory of unsubsidized (regular) child care facilities here.

New York City children who turn 4 years old are eligible to attend pre-kindergarden (pre-k). Pre-k is free. Apply for pre-k online here.

How do I register my child(ren) for school? 

Any school-aged child can go to school for free in New York. Please check how to do it here. For children who need English there are additional classes at most schools; there are also special schools for English Language Learners (ELL). Check with your local school how to find a better program.

Who can help me to find a job?

Looking for a job is a little like looking for an apartment. There is not one way of searching for a job. First you need a resume to show employers and apply online. Here and here are some examples of good resumes.

Second, you need to research what skills and what professions fit your education, skills and background. Look at some of daily job announcements here.

Look at occupations/professions descriptions here – learn about required skills, terms, conditions and median salaries.

There are also several organizations in New York City that help immigrants to improve skills and find jobs – all services are free: UpwardlyGlobal;

B’nai Zion; CAMBA iBridge and others. Look for more organizations at HiteSite.

Where can I improve my English for free?

You can always call The English-Speaking Union and apply for the Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center programs or English in Action.

We have also compiled a list of schools and organization as well as databases where you can find both English classes at various levels and conversation groups. The list was published on this blog earlier here.

Can I apply for government jobs?

As legal permanent residents immigrants can apply for city and state government jobs. There are two ways to score a government job: either take an exam (information about city civil service exams is here and about state civil service exams is here); or apply directly to open vacancies in various city and state departments. Make sure your resume and cover letter clearly and directly describe the required qualifications and skills for every job you apply to.

How do I choose a college?

There are many colleges in New York City. Here is the list of colleges and universities in NYC. You need to search for program descriptions, degrees granted and courses taught, as well admissions requirements and foreign transcripts evaluation requirements for each separate program. Each academic program, school and college have their own websites. Make sure the program you are applying to is accredited. Check the school’s accreditation status here.

What about financial aid to pay for college tuition?

Anyone can apply for special loans and financial aid once you are admitted to any academic program. Generally, you have to prove you have been a resident of New York State for at least one year before applying for study grants/financial aid. Please do not hesitate to speak to Admissions office and Financial Aid office at any college/university and ask them about available options.

How do I evaluate my foreign university degree?

Foreign degree evaluation is not free and is not required by most employers.  But many college programs, civil service jobs and large companies can require you to bring your degree evaluation.

Since degree evaluation services are not free, choose carefully. First, decide why you need an evaluation – for college/university admissions? for government job applications? for general job search?

Many colleges and Universities have specific requirements about your degree evaluation. For example, CUNY Baruch College Zicklin School of Business have these requirements.

The New York City government provides a useful guide about foreign credentials evaluation here. The New York State government also offers information here.

Where can I get legal consultation about immigration and other issues?

There are great resources online. At LawHelp New York find information about free and low-cost legal assistance.

The New York State Office for New Americans Hotline responds to general questions about immigration and naturalization benefits, requirements and procedures. The Hotline provides information and referrals to all NYS programs serving refugees and immigrants, other immigrant-related public and private programs, and relevant mainstream service programs available throughout New York State.

In New York City call 212-419-3737. Outside New York City call 1-800-566-7636. The New York State Office for New Americans Hotline operates from 9 AM to 8PM, Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays).

What other assistance do I qualify for? What social services are available for immigrants in New York?

There is a new special government website with information about various social services available for immigrants. Information about  financial assistance program, food and nutrition programs, healthcare insurance, housing, programs for children and tax credit programs is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Bengali, Creole and Korean language.

Do museums in New York charge entrance fees?

Some of them do, some have suggested admission fee (pay any amount) and some museums are free on certain days or evenings. The whole list of all free days at all museums is here.

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2 Comments on “Now you have immigrated to New York, you need housing, healthcare, childcare, a job… Where to start?”

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  2. […] See more information on resources for immigrants in our previous post here. […]


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