There are certain things which are to be done mandatorily as soon as reaching US. Just give a thought and what would you think are important ? an accomodation, a phone, a bank account ? But there are more things and the order of execution could matter too at times. Here goes the list below in the Order of importance.
1.) I -9 form - Employment verification form to be done and posted within 2 days starting work in US ideally. Form available in uscis website. (Am told that it can be done within a week :) and i posted it on 3rd day) . I posted it twice as i missed to post it along with the copy of I-94, Visa and Passport. So remember the copies to be attached.
2.)SSN - social security number, an equivalent of ID card in US, though it is of the second highest priority you have to wait for two weeks to apply for one, only then you will find your profile updated to get it. so am yet to apply for it.
3.)Bank Account - On a personal front, the most important for our surviving, you would need to have one and get your employer informed so that your salary gets credited. To my knowledge with inputs from many friends in US, Bank of America (BoFA) is good to have one. you can have easy internet transactions. though you would be dependent on a third party (like sbi or moneytoindia...) to transfer money to your indian accounts, any bank for that matter would depend on a third party. Hey, you need SSN to open a bank account, but dont worry you can initially open it with just your passport and later update the SSN as soon as you get it.
4.)Phone - mm, the fuel for any one living away from his home. to get a connection on contract from any service provider which gives you great phones like black berry or iphone for free, you need your SSN. so one option is to wait till you get your SSN and the other option if its urgent for you, go for prepaid as i have done and you can change it to a contract or even change the service provider without changing the number later getting the SSN. T- mobile is giving better options in "prepaid" than AT & T with a free phone along with the connection. i got a prepaid with basic Nokia phone for around $21. Remember, the minimum contract period is 2yrs and there is high cancellation charges if you break the contract in between. $175 in case of AT& T, but in T-mobile, if the reason is genuine like leaving the country, the cancellation charges are waived.
5.)Accomodation - Though it is of highest need to get one as you step into the country, i assume you would get one easily through your friends for initial days atleast until u get one for you...so in that case you can get this done easily. You would need the SSN here as well to go for the lease agreement, Agreement breaking charges are applicable, but most of the cases, you would have people coming in and going out so that the agreement can be managed. i guess so. You have lots of websites to tell you the available acco (like sulekha...).
6.) Car - To make your life a comfortable one in US, you need this. A car is a very basic necessity in US and i regret that i dint learn driving in India. It is very tough to live without a car especially in suburbs as you will not have any public transportation unlike downtown. You can manage only by being dependent on your friends as i am now. :)
With great help from colleagues here am done with most of the things except items 2 (SSN) and 5 (Acco) and 6 (car) Ofcourse i need to wait for another week to apply for SSN. Have spoken to a colleague from north for taking a single BHK ($885 to be shared). might get that by next week. Until i learn driving i cant think of item 6 :(
Above said things are subject to my limited knowledge and experience. Could vary person to person. Please take them at your own risk ;)
And remember, every one is helping here in US, but you have to ask for!
Note: This post is continued in Mar 13th blog as well....