The United States is full of fantastic opportunities for travelers. Filled with different cultures, traditions, events and things to see, you can go from state to state and find yourself with an entirely different experience every time. Which is why it is such a popular international destination, both for holidays and relocation.
But like going to any foreign country, it can be a little overwhelming. Which is why it can help to have a small arsenal of resources to help you prepare. The American government offers a number of these, giving you places online to learn about border regulations, customs, emergency assistance and just things at your local destination to do and enjoy.
Here are six of the most popular US government websites for travelers who are looking for either short or long term stays in the country.
Planning on attending school in the United States? Maybe you are entering the country for some kind of research project and need access to university records, libraries or official statistics centers?
All of these things can be found through this search feature from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
To search, you put in a institution name, city, state or zip code. Then select at least one of the institution types from the left side bar. You can choose as many as your like for the search.
This will give you a list of options, with the address, phone number, official site and specification such as grade level or type of library. When you click on the name it will bring up another window, which has various stats like enrollment, graduation rates, student/teacher ratios and more.
The official border control website has a great deal of useful information for travelers. However, the most used tools on the site are the border and airport wait time feeds.
For those who are coming in or out of Canada or Mexico, the border time will give you the most up to date and accurate information on the web. Separated by country, they have each border check applicable for commercial, vehicle or pedestrian travelers. This includes the average wait time, when they are open and any special instructions.
As for travelers coming in through airport customs, you can check by arriving terminal. You simple select it from the drop list, then select a report option, such as seasonal monthly average or a date range average.
Next, you will be given a selection for the time period you will be checking for. Specific days are available, or you can do the entire month. Once you make your selection, it will take you to a new page for this time period.
The stats are based around time of day for arrival. It will give you the minimum, average and maximum wait times. It will also tell you the average number of arriving passengers for the time, and the average number of booths open. This is very helpful if you want to set a flight that will beat a rush.
Trying to figure out the exchange rate when you visit a new country is always a pain. Especially with the frequent currency fluctuations that can shift it by a few cents, or a few dollars.
This is a quick way to check the current exchange rate, with a spreadsheet showing all world currency stacked against the American dollar. It is updated on an average of once per month, though if there are significant changed before that point it will reflect them.
If you are looking for historical exchange rates with any country, you can call a historian listed on the site for information.
Probably the issue that travelers or immigrants worry most about is their visa. You can find our all you need to know about temporary, permanent or semi-permanent residency here.
They have sections for visitors, students, workers or people hoping to become citizens of the US. There is a full list of petitions and paper work, information on getting in touch with aides and attorneys, exchange programs, help for tourists and more.
Other sites you might want to keep on hand are your country’s local embassy and anything related to your travel such as hotel and flight websites. But these government specific tools will help ease some of the strain of your trip, no matter how long it is expected to last.
Annie is the US traveller who blogs on the American sights and local events including San Diego attractions, NYC concerts, etc.