My experience of returning from USA to India | NRI Checklist

Rakhi AcharyyaPhD grad school doesn’t pay me enoughI’ll need to graduate soon with a decent job in linewill my company sponsor my H1B?…will I be able to find a job in time before my student visa expires and my temporary work permit runs its course?…I’ll need to read the last two hundred pages of “The short version of US Immigration laws”…What if I have to leave the country?…Will I be able to take my pet cat along?…This is too complicated…I wish I was home now, basking in the winter sun, having peanuts and yapping with my cousins…

These were the last months of my PhD grad school, churning my brain with how-to’s and what-if’s and desperately looking for a job. These are the last few months of anyone who is finishing school in the US. The cat might be my added frill.

A lot of Indian students, who go to the US for a higher degree, end up working there after. Well, actually not just a lot but pretty much every. Going to the US, for a higher degree, has a set defined process, summarized by many before. GRE, AGRE, TOEFL, TSE, GMAT, SAT to name a few.

Once you graduate, there are the other rules about getting an Optional Practical Training (OPT) to get a work permit, for a year, towards getting your H1B visa. Then there is an OPT extension period for STEM field. There are the rules to apply for H1B for academia vs non-academia. Then there are lotteries for H1B. Green Card applications follow after and you are slotted in either one of an EB1, EB2 or EB3 category.

I have never attempted to figure all of these out cause I like myself too much to go through the pain of understanding the details. And, of course, there are people who have made careers out of disentangling the web of the US Immigration system. But this article is not about how to get to the US, this is about how to get back.

After graduating and getting my title, you know, the one that cannot save lives, I got a job at Intel. So I set out to drive my car a distance of 1500 miles, from Michigan to New Mexico, with a comforter, three pots, clothes and a cat.

In a few months, after joining, Intel started processing my H1B and Green Card and I was well on my way to changing my status from a “Resident Alien” (trust me, that’s a term in US Immigration) to a “Resident Earthling”, an immigrant worker’s drool-worthy scenario. But after almost three years of working and nine years in the US, I decided to come back. The decision was personal and I am not here to say why to return home, but rather how.
 

Thinking of returning back to India for good?

Let’s say you are thinking about coming home. Of course or else you would be surfing vfsglobal.com and not reading this. But you haven’t decided when to…but that’s alright. It just gives you time and if I have learnt anything, as someone who was brought up in India, you need time to get things done.

So, you have been in the US long enough to say woa(t)er instead of water. But an accent-change isn’t really a fair metric. Is it? It can take from a few weeks for some people to a few years for some.

Maybe another measure could be that you have spent most of your adult life in the US, never having voted in India. So you probably don’t have a Voter Card, no PAN card since you have never paid taxes here, no AADHAR card since you don’t have the other IDs to get that started.

In other words, if you were to return home now, you wouldn’t be able to open a bank account, or rent an apartment, or even get a phone connection on your name without a KYC. I used to think KYC is an Indian take on KFC, Kentucky Yam Chicken. It led to some very embarrassing moments when I walked into a bank and got asked for a KYC and I replied, “but I have already eaten!”.

 

Must-have items on the relocation checklist

Know Your Chicken..err Customer.

Well before you decide to make the trip back home, get your documents in order. Apply for the very handy PAN card through the Income Tax Department, online. Voter Card can be applied online too, through the (National Voter’s Service Portal).

These are sufficient to get you started. Almost all your accounts, phone cards etc can be verified using these two. They basically tell the service providers that the Indian Government knows you exist and they have your permanent address to send you your birthday cards.

 

Transferring your money to Indian bank accounts

The next thing, on your list, would be to get your hard earned, US Govt. taxed, money back home. Get your NRI accounts set up on any Indian bank and use ICICI, Axis Bank or many like them, to transfer your money to your NRI accounts.

A tip is to keep an eye out for a good day for the exchange rate in favor of Rupees. Once you return home, convert the NRI accounts to normal savings account and start paying taxes on your interests accrued in India.

 

Finding a job after returning to India

There is nothing amazingly different about job hunts in India, but my experience suggests there is still a strong gain to be made from networking, here. Passing on your CVs to people you know, helps. Employee referrals help. So, even if you don’t like that guy from college, the one who used to laugh at his own jokes, now working in that company you like, you send a friendly poke on facebook and ask him how he is doing.

Academics need to become visible here in India. The research community, here, may have never heard of you or your collaborators. They have their hands full with their colleagues and collaborators. So, start writing to them and arrange to give job talks at various institutes. I know of people who would even get their vacation, home, signed off as academic leaves, thanks to a few presentations here and there.

Anyway, getting jobs in India is tough. Competition is in people’s veins. People here are facing it everyday and trust me when I say that they have honed the skill of competition to a second nature. Still quite unused to it, I had someone push me out of the way to grab a plate of dessert, at a family wedding of all the places. I mean we could have been related, who knows…I hope not. So be prepared for some frustration.

Offers are few and communication is minimal. You might get lucky and get a rejection letter but don’t count on it. Most places don’t bother with letters. But rule of thumb is, no news is probably bad news. After you do get a job, don’t start comparing your salary, in the US, to India. That’s fatal and more so, pointless. Compare it with the Indian pay scales and see where it fits in your lifestyle.
 

Tips to manage the move back to India

Get rid of stuff. I cannot insist on this more. The less you bring, the cheaper, better still, faster the move will seem. I sold my furniture, my electronics and my car, on craigslist. Of course you have to be beware of scammers in online dealings.

Selling your car might be tricky. If you are going for a private sale vs dealer sale, you might get a better price but then again beware of pesky scammers.

Always check the credentials of the individual. Get a bill of sale from your local DMV and get the Title transfer procedure checked out thoroughly. Also always make sure you get a copy of the individual’s signature on the bill of sale and inform the DMV after the sale is completed. I know, it’s a lot to take. So I dragged a coworker along to double check whatever I did.

And never ever deal in cash. Insist on a Cashier’s cheque. It is just much safer and cleaner. If you sell your car to a dealer, the process will be simpler but you will most definitely get an under-priced quote.

I donated my books and clothes. My conscience was very grateful that week. As for my kitchen, I called my friends and coworkers over, asked them to cook a feast at my house and they could take whatever they wanted, on their way out. They were happy to relieve me off my pots and pans and I got to eat finger-licking good food. A pretty good deal.

Now, airlines charge an arm and a leg for extra bags. So, I found a cheaper way to send things that I didn’t want to get rid off. US Postal Service can send international parcels at a reasonable cost. So, I sent home a few and it may have cost me about $50 to $100 bucks per parcel, depending on the size and weight of the box. Now if you go for cargo shipping, it may cost you upwards of $2000 bucks. You do the math.
 

Getting pets to move with you

Here comes the part where I made no compromises. I wanted to bring my pet cat along to Delhi. She had been with me for 5 years, at that time, and I simply didn’t want to hand her over to the animal shelter.

I hired an international pet mover, Animal Land Movers (Petmovers.com/). Her move was expensive but extremely well organized. These guys have been doing this for a while and on a multi-continental scale, taking care of all the following (quoted directly from their correspondence):

– Provide customs clearance.
– Work with your schedule to book the most convenient, most direct flight for your pet. Airfare is included in the quote.
– Provide you with the paperwork the airlines require.
– Provide you with the labels and documents required by IATA and the TSA.
– Provide you with detailed directions to the facilities you will need to visit at the airport.
– The day of your pet’s move they track every minute of the flight. They make sure the plane takes off on time, make sure all connections are met if there are any, and make sure that your pet is off loaded, as soon as possible, upon arrival. Make sure that the cargo, your pet would be flying in, is environmentally conducive for a safe flight.
– Most importantly they provide you with a 24 hour number where you can get someone on the phone to answer your questions.

So my cat flew in separately, a day after I arrived and was brought to my house by one of their agents. Apparently my cat layover’d at a pet spa for ten hours, at the Heathrow airport, where the staff played with her to exercise her body and a Vet checked her out for any discomfort. Meanwhile I flew with low leg space, long hours of layover at a terminal where all the restrooms where getting cleaned at the same time.

 

Managing the culture shock after arriving in India

Even if you grew up here, it is still a culture shock. Everything around seems to be chaotic and yet functioning somehow. The cities aren’t as clean as the one you were living in, the roads have no lanes, no one gives any pedestrian any right of way.

Not claiming to pass a judgement, I think what you need to prepare yourself for, is a difference. Don’t expect the same kind of lifestyle. That would be ridiculous. A few months may go by before you start seeing a home grown order in that chaos.

Things just function differently. You don’t yellow page the plumber or electrician or the handy man, like you used to. You ask that guy who knows that guy and soon you will be a phone call away from any service. People don’t drive in lanes or stay at a distance of 10 feet from other cars, but instead they drive bumper to bumper. It’s different. Give yourself that transitioning time.
 

Looking back at my relocating experience

It has been over a year since I have come back and I am still in the process of settling in. Moving is harrowing. It is harrowing enough when you move houses, let alone continents, but if your end goal is what is driving you to move, then it is just worth it.

Having an idea, of the steps to take, is a good place to start. It took me about a year from the time I decided I would move to when I actually did. It was hard, all by myself, scavenging for information for everything.

Sometimes I would even wish I hadn’t decided to come back at all. But now, as I am sitting here on my patio, sipping coffee with my cousins, having done exactly what I had set out to do two years ago, I think it was worth it.
 
Read these related posts:
Reasons why NRIs are returning to India – Reverse Brain Drain
Best ways H4 dependent visa holders can work in the USA


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Rakhi Acharyya //
Rakhi Acharyya
Rakhi is a freelance writer, a Physics PhD from Michigan State University, an ex-teacher and a former employee of Corporate America. Follow her on Twitter.

73 Comments

  1. Aditya says:

    Thanks for sharing. A very uncommon topic, so thanks for jotting down your experience.
    Did you have to file anything special with IRS? I’ve heard of a sailing away document which basically certifies that you have taken care of your dues to IRS.

    • Pavitra says:

      Thank you Rakhi for this wonderful post. I too am planing to move back “home” soon and your post helped greatly!
      @Aditya, I too have the question about the IRS / 401(k). Can you please provide some input on the process?

    • There is a documentation that was recommended by one of the readers. Here’s the link https://www.irs.gov/businesses/departing-aliens-and-the-sailing-permit.
      But in case you do forget or are unable to work on it, IRS can correspond with you through your permanent address in India.
      As for 401 k, contact the services and register your permanent address with them. If you are leaving US before you turn 57, a penalty will be deducted before they return the savings. And do keep a bank account active until your taxes and 401k returns are all cleared.
      Thanks for liking the article btw 🙂

      • Bhumi Davé says:

        Hi Rakhi,
        Good morning. Thank you for sharing. I am currently in process of moving to India myself after living in USA for 20 years. My situation is different in the sense – my dad lives with me and i am only earner so been having hard time in trying to find job in India from here. Having lived i US from college onward – I lack network and connection in India which of-course adds further frustration to the whole moving process.
        I am a bioanalytical researcher progressed into project management profession with total of 10 years of US corporate experience. Any tips on what other job sites to reach out to or NRI group who can help with network? As of now I am resorting to LinkedIn, Naukri.com premier, indeed, and flexjobs.
        Thank you

      • Kumar says:

        Hi Rakhi,
        Thank you for wonderful blog. I have a question about 401k account. I am thinking to move India permanently but keep my 401k account in USA and after my 60 years I will take my fund. I have talked to the “service provider” and they are okay to change my address to my Indian address and also agree to send money if I need before my 60 years. Do you know anyone who has moved out USA and keep his/her 401k in USA?

        • JD says:

          If your plan allows it, I’d suggest you leave your 401(k) in place.
          If your plan DOES NOT allow it, just roll it over into a Rollover or another tax sheltered retirement account.
          In either case, make sure you have your beneficiaries set up, in case something does happen to you.
          After having lived here for a while and having built up substantial savings, I would think twice before pulling all my money into cash, paying a 20% penalty AND taxes on it.

      • chanchal says:

        Thank you for wonderful blog. I have a question about 401k account. I am thinking to move India permanently but keep my 401k account in USA and after my 60 years I will take my fund. I talked to the “service provider” and they are okay to change my address to my Indian address and also agree to send money if I need before my 60 years. Do you know anyone who has moved out USA and keep his/her 401k in USA?

  2. Arun says:

    “Anyway, getting jobs in India is tough” …………………… doest that mean getting a job in US is easier for indians?

    • narendra Jaiprakash Mane says:

      getting job in india is tough is not very conclusive statement.. depends on what job you are looking for and how good connections you have in your field ? getting job in usa is difficult too.. its not simple at all.. If you have decided to move in india , start making your contacts in india early and get the job you need.

  3. @Aditya: Thanks for liking the matter. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of that. But IRS anyway has a nifty way of maintaining records. So last year I received a letter at my permanent address, from IRS, about some $36 bucks offset in my calculations!

    In other words, if IRS can contact you for $36 bucks, they know how to reach you. It is in those pesky details, you fill in, in your tax forms. But curiosity sake, do share the link, with everyone here, where you can contact IRS, for their farewell goodbyes.

    @Arun: Nope it is not easy in the US, as well. But what is easy is that the process is seemingly more streamlined and well organized. Since I mostly meant this from my own experience and that of people I know, it seems like India works very well with networking.

    Unemployment, among the highly qualified, is much lower in the US, as compared to India (read this). Leaving numbers aside, Indian graduate students are generally sought after, especially in the STEM fields, in the US. That doesn’t mean getting a job is easy in the US.

    It just seems easier than having a Post Grad degree, in India, and seeking a job when there could literally millions with similar qualifications. Of course, the odds of getting a job in the US, for Indians applying from India, is not in their favor. That’s a different story.

  4. Praveen says:

    Very interesting read. Have been living out of India for the last 8 years and do have it at the back of my mind to come back. Your post, especially the details, gave an insigh into what I will have to go through in the process of moving back to India.

  5. dibyendu dey says:

    Another great article. I guess the job search in India gets easier if you are in software industry as that is lion’s share of Indian jobs. For other fields as you said, you have to be genius or well-connected with right people – that part hasn’t changed in last 30 years. What about the hundreds of new IITs,IISER etc. build these days – getting faculty position is difficult there?

    • Bhumi Davé says:

      @dibyendu – If you know process on how i can go on applying for Project management and business analysis position in software industry in India – Please do advise as i am definitely struggling to get one

  6. That is true, while software industries have way more options, the other fields are still struggling.
    As for IITs and IISERs, their coming about has been both favorable and unfavorable at the same time. By that I mean that while the vacancies have become more probable, the pool of candidates for vacant positions have increased. Also with the recession hitting Europe and US, there are more candidates returning to India. Another reason, from a subjective view on my part, is the tendency of these institutes to create jobs among people who have been reared in the same environment, as the job. So things can get very competitive.

  7. shruti says:

    great read. I always thought what it would be like moving back and you summed up pretty nicely. thanks for sharing this! and my anxiety of moving my dog has now laid to rest from your story 🙂

    • Thanks Shruti. You can talk to the guys at petmovers anytime. They are really friendly and helpful. I spent months badgering them for information and they never complained. Good Luck!

  8. ajaya pai says:

    regarding IRS. sailers permit.. google it..

  9. Divya says:

    Well articulated and good information! I have been here for close to a decade and am considering moving back to India for good. While I’m nervous, the last few lines of your blog made me smile 🙂

    Being away from home (India) sucks while I am here but I am curious, do the positive things like the warmth of family around, food, movies, the fact that you are among your own people, the familiarity itself compensate for the negative experiences?

  10. Thanks Divya. I am not going to claim that things are going to be quite as perfect all the time.
    However I have realized, as I am sure you have too, that we have negative experiences no matter where.
    Ultimately, however, it will largely depend on ones’ personality. Some people could face a larger hurdle in adjusting back, while some, like me, may be able to focus more on the positives. What is true is that there are now quite a few Indians who are choosing to come back home. And it certainly helps that people in India are now a lot more global than they used to be. So it doesn’t feel like you are returning to a land set back in time. As I said, it will just feel different in the way it functions. With time the negative experiences themselves will take on a different form as you get more and more transitioned back into the Indian ways. At the risk of a rant, here’s one of my personal observations. Earlier it used to bother me how no official business could ever be completed in a period of a day. There was always “Madam please come back in a few days” or “You need the five different signatures here” and so on. Well now I am just pleasantly surprised if things do get done, rather quickly, and celebrate the mini-victory with a Golgappa.
    That’s how it is really. Just a shift in focus, from your US ways to the Indian.

    • Divya says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I feel the positive feelings will compensate for the negative experiences. Life in US as you are more than aware isn’t as rosy as it seems to the outside world. Riddled with issues and with NO golgappa rewards 😉

      I think the bottom line is I miss home and its familiarity that’s the main reason to return! 🙂

  11. Sampat says:

    Hello Rakhi
    I am from India and living in Canada for more than 9 yrs. I and my wife both are working in our profession and have 2 kids (7 yrs) who are born here in Canada. We always wanted to go back to India in the back of our mind. You can say due to Family ties and professional reasons. We feel that we are not able to grow professionally here in Canada in spite of having adequate qualifications and experience. We have been offered good jobs with decent pay as per Indian Market. We see lot of potential for growth in the job profile we have been offered in India. However, when everything has fallen in its place, I am not sure whether to move back to India or Not at this time. Although, My wife is quite confident, I am scared of moving to Metro such as NCR, population, work style, pollution, traffic, crime etc. I know people are living happily there but we have been out for many years. Also, I am worried about kids adjustment as they have been born and brought here and they are happy here. I don’t know what is the right step to take. Can you please share your opinion please. Thanks

    • Ashish says:

      Hello Sampath,

      We are a family from canada too. Please advise, hows your move going and have you moved yet to india. we are in the same plate as yours.

  12. Hi Sampat,

    In my opinion, it seems like you have the possibility of a fresh and better start, in India. Not just personally but, as you said, you are looking at getting into a decent position, professionally. You and your wife, that is. In that sense it’s a great opportunity to come back. Of course there is the complication because of your kids who were born, and so far brought up, in Canada. But in case you really wanted to come back, this would be an ideal time. 7 years is young enough that they can come back and adjust to the ways, here, in good time. Any older and you might have more trouble. A lot of immigrants who probably want to come back, are usually held back out there because of grown up kids who have never known a life in India. 7 years is an impressionable enough age that they will be able to transition back better than teenage or adult kids.

    Now, about your other concerns. Pollution and traffic are problems in India. In fact, when I used to travel home, while living in the US, the polluted haze everywhere and lack of any traffic obedience used to bother me quite a bit. As for traffic now, I have learnt to avoid long commutes during rush hours and generally try to live close to work. That saves my traffic and road pollution time. As for general pollution, that is something unfortunately you cannot do anything significant about. Well, you can try to live in a community which has a lot of green around and perhaps even make your own contribution to join societies that help plant trees, clean neighborhoods etc.
    As for work style, you will definitely feel a difference. Maybe less so if you are in the private sector. Sometimes when it comes to having to depend on someone else for getting something done, it can get frustrating. Having been in the west, you are used to a level of efficiency which is different here. So it is all about that paradigm shift. Once you know how to get things done, you will be fine.
    Crime, just like any other country and place, is there but you can choose to live in communities which are considered safe. Actually violent crimes are really not very common here. You just have to be careful. Best approach would be to find a residence and talk to the local people, there, to gauge how safe the neighborhood is.
    And well, population is something which is beyond your control. All I can say is that you will get used to it. After all 9 years is not a very long period to have completely obliterated your Indian ways!
    So good luck in your decision. And hopefully everything will fall in place, in time.

  13. sampat says:

    Thank you Rakhi for your quick and detailed response. I will share my experience in couple of months after I have moved to India.

  14. Rahil says:

    We went with a hope to a distant land for untold riches riches, fame and fortune. We achieved our goals, we grew up! And when it was all said and done the realization hit us half way through our life, the happiness that we seek in riches fame and fortune was nothing more than the smiles support and good times with our loved ones. The answer finally strikes the dream that we dreamt that eluded us for so many years was the love of our family.

    Rakhi a very well written article. The last sentence seems like your real dream was fulfilled a decade spent searching and it was right where you left it 🙂 The Moments that make life precious.

    • DeDe says:

      Brilliantly said!!! Very moving

      • Ameya says:

        Rahil, its actually NOT the way you put it. The thing is, as we grow older, our goals, aspirations and requirements change. What was cool and sexy when you are 20 is not so when you are 40 and is again not so when you are 60. What riches and fame and fortune you wished for in your 20s doesn’t attract you anymore, mostly because you are older now and not necessarily because you actually achieved those things (you might have or might not have — its moot) or that those things dont have value anymore. Values change and what your perceive as valuable also changes. The things that your age now needs, you think you will get them most in India and yet again you follow your own selfish interests (rather than a new found burst of love for your motherland) and you back “home”. And that is OK, I just don’t like this euphemism put on it. Its always your self-interest that you follow- nothing else. And by you, I dont mean literally you as Rahil, but we all.

  15. SK Malladi says:

    Great decision. I can understand the position you are in and how you might be feeling as I am on my move back to India. I found a job already and will be starting mid next year. I agree with your views on how chaotic it might be, but this great nation is on the cusp of a massive change and you’ve decided to move at about the right time. Myself being a PhD holder, I can understand how frustrating it may be at sometimes while you hear things like “over qualified” or “this type of research/study won’t work here”, I am sure you will soon find a wonderful job very soon.
    With your exposure abroad, if you join the synergy and work towards the change, we can minimize the chaos. And the best part that will keep us (all those who want to return back) happy is like you mention “I am sitting here on my patio, sipping coffee with my cousins”, nothing beats it. Home is where the heart is and wishing you all the best in your future endeavors.

    • Rakhi Acharyya says:

      Thank you Rahil and S K Malladi for such uplifting reviews.
      It has indeed been quite amazing for me to have experienced the best of what the US had to offer, in education and work, and then return home to experience a life surrounded by what makes me happy. And it is just a fabulous feeling to find people whose thoughts, on this, resonate with mine.
      Good luck with your journey!

      • M says:

        I have nothing to loose expect a torn underwear and smelly socks. Sleeps in floor a donkey life in US infact every year I go to India to assess the situation, my travel usually with a back lack. After landing there just wearing a lungi and slipper me one among slum dogs :). Still I can’t used to weather change. But this time being a school drop out from India staying in Us for 10 years I decide to go for good let’s see since I start with a tea shop my career horizons has wide perspective to a power systems engineer
        Any way life is one and lived with pursuit of happiness. No more donkey life
        It was a good article
        M

  16. krupesh says:

    Great article and truly inspiring. I hope everyone’s move back to India is as smooth as yours.

    “Excellent quote”

    But now, as I am sitting here on my patio, sipping coffee with my cousins, having done exactly what I had set out to do two years ago, I think it was worth it.

  17. Mohan says:

    Good Article Rakhi! For me the personal touch you bring in to the article, and the ease with which you broach a relatively stressful topic is impressive. Book marked :).

  18. Rahul says:

    Dear Rakhi,
    Your post really help me to feel good about my plan to go back to India. I must say you are full of positive thoughts. As you mentioned, negative things can happen anywhere Even in USA. You do celebrate your victories with Small cup of ice creams. You don’t need bucket of ice-cream at home 🙂

  19. shyam says:

    Clear , concise, helpful and entertaining – I especially can relate with your flight experience versus your cats’s :).

    I went through the experience of applying for PAN, aadhar – this process is amazing for a country of 1 + billion people who have been mobilized to seek the same with the recent demonetization schemes as well.

    Any ways please do continue your writings and sharing your experiences with you

  20. Aditi says:

    Hi Rakhi,
    It is indeed a very helpful article. Two questions, how did your cat adjust in India? Can one find canned food, hairball control food, etc. easily? Thank you.

  21. Avani Agrawal says:

    Hi Rakhi!! Your article is me and my husband’s story..well almost. The first part of it anyway, where we have finally decided to make the move after being in US for 7 years. Your article was extra special to me as you can probably relate to our dilemma here: travelling with a cat. I cannot bear to leave my cat behind so I read through your suggestion of taking the help of petmovers.com. However, my another concern is, how did your cat adjust to the change in India, regarding food (wet and dry), litter etc. I do know how the facilities are in India to keep a pet cat, so any help on that would be awesome.
    Loved reading your article. Its a hard step to take, but every pain is worth it.

    • Thanks. I am happy that you could relate to my story. Don’t worry about your cat. Petmovers is excellent and they really took care of my cat. And she adjusted back just fine. Food, litter and everything essential are easily available in almost all the cities. If not, Amazon stocks them too.
      So just relax and try to keep the worries aside. Your cat and your family will hopefully have a smooth trip back home.

  22. Sonam Sahni says:

    This article brought a smile to my face…it is so truthful and real! Thinking of coming back home after 5 years of living in the US seems like a daunting task. Your post sure made me see things I was not ready to see but not ‘the slap in your face’ kinds..more like hey, ‘slowly you will adjust to this’! I am so happy that you got to take your cat with you, I wouldn’t dream of leaving Sushi behind (my dog). Thanks for the tip on the USPS parcel service 😀 It would be great if you wrote some more on your transitioning process, and how you coped with the initial stages of regret.

    Wishing you lots of happiness and contentment over your decisions. You go girl!!

    • Thank you very much, Sonam. It was just an attempt to put down a checklist for information which was not readily available to me. I am glad you liked it. Hope your move turns out to be great for you and Sushi. Good luck to you too :).

  23. Shambhavi K says:

    What an amazing article ,I am also planning to move back to India.
    Time to return back to roots where there is warmth of the loved ones ,festivals makes sense and most importantly to contribute something to our motherland .No matter how chaotic ,unorganised it is ,it’s “OURS” ,I want my kids to know our culture and I personally feel Indian system of education is good enough to make them competitive.

    Your article has really inspired me,Keep us updated .

  24. Priya says:

    Hi Rakhi,
    A well-written, insightful article hitting most of the pressing issues about making the move back to India. Among others, I have your article bookmarked ever since my husband and I started talking about the possibility of us moving back 🙂

    I do however wish to note that your (and a couple of other writers’) views about “not having a PAN card, Aadhar card, and hence not being able to open a bank account, rent an apartment etc…” seem like an overstatement. My husband has been in the US for 11 years now, and personally I have about 7 of those behind me, spent for education or otherwise. Both of us have sufficient legal documentation to not “feel lost” if we do indeed come back one fine day. In my case, even before I left for US for graduate studies, I had a PAN card, voter ID, Indian driver’s license, a relic of a ration card, a separate bank account (connected to my first job in India and consequently the tax documents filed at the time), a joint bank account with my father, a telephone (internet connection) bill bearing my name & address. Moreover, during my last trip to India, I got my aadhar card formalities done at a local center in less than an hour! The point I’m trying to drive home here is that for a person who’s spent at least a good 23-25 years in his/her home country as opposed to 8-10 in the US, it is incredibly hard to believe that they might not even have at least a couple of legal, acceptable documents that could get them started with a new (or a continuation of the old) life in India.

    I apologize, I do not know the details of your situation when you returned home (although you do mention your relatives/cousins – in short, some form of familiar support & comfort system), but in my opinion, although there will be a lot of adjusting to do with respect to noise, pollution, facilities, one needn’t be too intimidated about getting started on buying/renting a house, or a gas connection, telephone, opening a bank account and the such. A bit of promptness and planning should put things in order, as you too mention in your article!

    All in all, I appreciate your efforts put into a good article 🙂

  25. Chetan says:

    Nice read~ I moved back March 2016, and its been an amazing year so far. Got my first bike, first job in India, family settled in well. I never had problem with the traffic, crowded general compartments of the trains, the roads, water and electricity problems even after living 15 years in the US since I was 18, as I am closer to my parents now, it is more than enough and my wife is closer to her parents, so it is good. The only problem I have here is with certain ppl, who do not spend money for drinks, lol. I think its funny….They all want to meet and drink, but they do not seem to share the bill, may be I need to try to understand their reason behind all that. 😉

  26. Santosh says:

    Hi Rakhi, Thanks for sharing your information! A green blooded Spartan myself!!!! Been thinking of returning back home since a long time and in all seriousness, there is no perfect time for that. Despite having convincing reasons to come back home, the mother of all decision cognitive traps – “Status Quo” and “Anchoring”, keeps a lot of Indians, including myself, away from taking this decision. Amongst, professionals who have wholeheartedly embraced the US culture, be it social, academic or corporate, I actually have found quite a sizeable population of Indians (that I really sympathize) who subconsciously are aware that US is not a place where they want to live the rest of their lives, but being in the aforementioned traps, just live their weekday – weekend routine, and see days, months, years go by. After being 12 years in US, working at a senior level in a highly innovative medical device company and in the middle of the GC process, I’ve been wanting to return back to India with a “well-thought” plan, but I’ve realized and am convinced, that it’s not the “plan” but it’s the fear of “unknown” that primarily needs to be dealt with. You’ve very well articulated, overall and specifically in “finding a job in India” section, touched and highlighted some very key points, about the competition, rejection frustration etc. Thanks for the other important tips as well. All I am doing now, is planning to first land in India, take a couple months off touring all those places I ever wanted to visit with my parents, while networking for jobs, and then head back into the corporate world. ………And of course send a indirect message to the newly elected leader that for me, living here is a choice but for you its your need.

  27. Mahesh says:

    We have been living in London for past 10+ years. When we came here we just wanted to live here for some period but we were not sure whether we were going to settle down here permanently. After having kids our thought process changed over the years as time changed. For past couple of years we (my wife and I) had several rounds of discussions about moving back to India. We did some research and also gone through various online forums like this. We discussed with lot of other people and family friends etc. Different people have different views, opinions. Some people don’t want to go back because they don’t like traffic jams, some thought its very noisy in India, lot of pollution, corruption blah blah. Some wives don’t want to live with their in-laws so they don’t want to go to India!!! Some people responded like they were born-British (and were by mistake born in India). Personally I never wanted to settle here. If I am honest I was here just for money. Having lived here for 10+ years I understood that there are some good & bad things both here and in India. You need choose what’s good for you. Good & bad is everywhere. We really had nice time here and enjoyed life here. Everything has been going extremely smooth so far but something was missing! No matter how long you stay here we are still outsiders (immigrants) here.
    Finally, we moved to India 6 months ago and I think that was the right decision. That was the right time to move. If I had waited for few more years then I think my kids would not have liked/accepted India. Obviously before moving we did some homework about area, schools etc. The best part is my kids are extremely happy here in India. Now they don’t have to sit in the house all the time after school. They can play outside any time until late evening. They can jump, run, shout, scream in our house now. They don’t have to worry about neighbors, downstairs, upstairs people. Lot of people say that they don’t want to move to India because their children might not settle in India. But I can tell you that is just an excuse. Children settle very happily, quickly, easily. We are happy with our decision 🙂

  28. Chhavi says:

    Hi Rakhi,
    Good information in your article about US ! Life in US as you aware isn’t as easy as it seems to the outside world. My Fiancé is working in US.
    You come back to India while I will be move to US.
    Myself a Ph.D holder, working with pharmaceutical sector in India.
    Could Getting a job in US is easier for indian like me who will be move on dependent VISA ?

    Regard

    Chhavi.

    • Siddharth W says:

      Hi, I have been working in New York on H1 visa for a while now and weighing my future options of staying or leaving US. IMHO, Job situation is tough right now in US, even for the Indian students who will be graduating from US education system. There were talks about rolling back on laws that allow H1 dependents to work in US on H4 visa. I would say give it few more months in wait and watch mode where it all goes once the review of H1 is completed by the State department.
      Thanks for the great info, OP.

    • Rakhi Acharyya says:

      Hi Chhavi,
      Maybe this post (http://www.careerizma.com/blog/best-ways-h4-dependent-visa-holders-can-work-usa/) will give some of the answers you are looking for.
      Good luck!

  29. Jyoti says:

    Hi Rakhi Acharyaa
    My last name is same as you ☺we also returned ftom USA ….not voluntary but involuntary ,so it was hard for us.We didn’t do any
    Planning but 1 year was difficult but we settled here comfortably.Initially sebacks were everyone looks you like you came from another planet and slowly they would accept you.
    Peaple here has warmth in there conversations.Everybody comes to help if ask for help.Food is awesome and relatives surely talk to very passionatly even you were not in touch with them for years.So moving to USA to India not smooth ride but very worthy and satsfactry.

  30. Jyoti says:

    Hi Rakhi Acharyaa
    Great post Rakhi.
    My last name is same as you ☺we also returned ftom USA ….not voluntary but involuntary ,so it was hard for us.We didn’t do any
    Planning but 1 year was difficult but we settled here comfortably.Initially sebacks were everyone looks you like you came from another planet and slowly they would accept you.
    Peaple here has warmth in there conversations.Everybody comes to help if ask for help.Food is awesome and relatives surely talk to very passionatly even you were not in touch with them for years.So moving to USA to India not smooth ride but very worthy and satsfactry.

  31. Akshara says:

    Hi Rakhi,
    Thank you for your article, rather insightful for people sailing in a similar boat:) When a handful of people look to make a transition out of the norms, not only is it frowned upon, but it instills a sense of questionable decision-making ability within you:) However, when I take a step back and think through the pros and cons, the one feeling that seems to surpass the rest is the feeling of comfort and the feeling of being one among “my faces”:) That said, I am looking to move to India for good and have a few questions in regards to that.
    Over time, have you managed to make peace with the fact that your salary does not (may be even remotely) match the pay your received in the US? Are you in the same field of job today that involved your graduation study and/or work experience in the US? If not, what prompted you to switch from your area of prior work/experiences? Do you feel compelled to take a higher paying job since your friends and family are making more than you do today (provided, that is the scenario:)?
    I am at the phase of my life where, although older, I may have the time to make friends, but most people would have families and too busy to be engaging in making friendship.I wonder if I may feel left out in the process. Would you recommend specific cities in India where a transitory lifestyle of such would be more easily acceptable by people which, in turn, would make it easier for me to adapt sooner ( I am hardcore India lover, but I get lost when people have expectations from a US-Returned-Indian. I am not looking for a super cosmopolitan city where Indians don’t seem like Indians any more, but more like a balance between the extremes:) Lastly, if you would be so kind as to be able to reach out to me through email as well, in case I would like to talk about certain subjects that I would not like to discuss in a public forum, it would be a huge help.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my post and I greatly appreciate your response.

  32. Rakhi Acharyya says:

    Hi Akshara,
    You can reach me on my LinkedIn profile.
    As for a brief discussion on jobs here vs there, well, they could be vastly different. You should try to figure out a financially secure job, here, perhaps before you arrive. However, once you do, comparing the salaries would be highly futile. As for cruising away from your field is concerned, it will depend on the kind of job, of course. I decided to make a career shift, more from a desire rather than a need. But if I were to stick to my field, I would have faced some difficulties in securing a similar semiconductor manufacturing job like I used to have there. But I am sure that someone who has an IT background may face fewer problems in India.
    As for the cities to move to, the bigger ones, as you said, certainly have little room to miss the western lifestyle. But I’d suggest something old and familiar. Isn’t that one of the reasons to come back? 🙂 …Of course, the ultimate decider may just be your job location.
    Good luck!

    • Akshara says:

      Thank you for taking the time to respond, Rakhi. I am with you on your view points. I guess the initial apprehension before planning to head back seems a little daunting, but heart of heart, I also feel that I will be just fine:)

    • AD says:

      After reading your blog and comments here, it seems that most of you guys were visa holders in the US. Having a GC or US passport offers a whole new perspective to living here. I amy be wrong, just my thougths

  33. MH says:

    Hi Rakhi,
    I am a big fan of your writing and have been following your blogs for quite some time now.
    I am originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh and completed my masters and PhD here in the US. Currently I work for a tech giant in upstate NY . It has been 8 years (2.5 years for my wife) that I have been living here in the US and have got our (me and my wife) green card last year. We have no kids yet. It has always been in the back of our mind to return back to Dhaka and be with our extended families. With that in mind, I have been trying for a faculty position there and have recently been offered one at the the #1 public university in the country. There is definitely a huge pay cut compared to what I am earning now but then again, a faculty position in the #1 public university in the country has its own prestige and glory and comes with its own perks. Anyway, now that the time has come to wrap up things here in US, I am finding it quite difficult to pull the final plug. It has put me in a situation where I have this huge passion of going back and settling in my homeland on one side and then the comfortable and stable life in the US. Just wanted to share my situation with you and perhaps try to understand your reasons and feelings about leaving a US job and returning to India and also how you put yourself together to pull the final plug . Thanks!

    • Rakhi Acharyya says:

      Hi MH,
      Congratulations on your job in Dhaka. And thank you for being an ardent follower of my articles.
      I understand your predicament and sympathize with what you are going through. Like you, I had been unsure as to when to pull the plug as well. But it got to a point, in the last one year, when I just couldn’t take being in the US anymore. In fact, I chose to come back a few months earlier than I had initially planned. My mind was finally locked-in due to a personal reason.
      The fact is, I am sure you will be analyzing your situation but if your heart is set on it you will just need that little push to come to a decision. And I hope your decision makes you happy. Good luck.

  34. venkat says:

    This is one of the best reads I have encountered so far. Outlines at very high level and touches and educates someone who “really” wants to move back. Thank you very much.

  35. Srimatthi says:

    Hi Rakhi,
    Cute smile with the dimple. My wonder is why. (I know you focused on the how)
    So, you valued spending time with your cousins more than anything?
    I respect the decision you took. If possible please share what you valued and are those met?

  36. Akash Agrawal says:

    Hi Rakhi – thanks for sharing this, very helpful. I had a question about bank accounts – I spoke to a representative of Wells Fargo, and they said that I can keep my account open for as long as I want, but somehow I don’t believe that 😐

    What did you do with your bank accounts when leaving the country? I don’t need the accounts, obviously, but I might need them to be alive for a few weeks after I move.

  37. DeDe says:

    Beautiful article; super engrossing and above all, so straightforward!! Thank you for your candid and helpful words. I also loved the comments (and could associate with so many of them!) I started reading your blog in my lunch break and just couldn’t stop at one! You’re a brilliant writer Rakhi! Keep it up!!

  38. Abhishek Mittal says:

    Nice article Rakhi! I plan to take the plunge later this year after having spent nearly 5 years in Europe and finally deciding it’s not the place I want to spend my entire life. Your article allows people like us to think about some basic but challenging issues that one would face on moving back.

  39. prefer_to_be_anonymous_here says:

    Thank you for a frank post. It is not easy to find this kind of information. I am now in my late 20s and have been living outside India (east Asia) for the past 20+ years due to my parent’s job. I was born in India and an Indian by nationality but all my education and work experience has been only there.(non-English medium). I understand and can work in English( I have a nearly full score in a standardised English test ). I speak Hindi(some punjabi also. I don’t sound like a foreigner. my accent is the Indian normal one. have used Hindi mostly in a family setting, so I often do have instances when I have to google vocabulary though. I cannot read or write Hindi. We(me my parents) are planning to move back when my parents retire from their job there, since they don’t intend to spend their “post retirement life” there.(they are crystal clear on that)
    is it workable/practical idea to consider doing a post grad degree in an Indian institute? ( I really don’t know where I will settle for the rest of my life but remaining there for good without my family is a haunting thought.) Do you know anyone who has taken these kind of steps?
    (we live in a area where there isn’t much Indian community. we have close family friends, mostly non natives(foreigners) but they are moving to their native countries or other locations as they are coming in their retirement age.) My parents have not been the “network actively with people ” type(← this is very bad IMO ). I do have friends and colleagues(99.9 % non-Indian) but they are gradually “settling down” or (mostly foreign ones) saying that they will return to their country once their education loans are paid off.
    Do you know any community of returned NRIs or people in a similar situation ?
    I would be grateful if you could guide. I have been trying to solve this issue, but its an extremely tough.

  40. Nishanthraag Reddy Venuturla says:

    Hello Rakhi Acharya,

    I loved your article. Initially I had dreams of settling in US. So I applied for Higher studies and went through all exciting process. But Slowly, as the days came to an end in US, I started feeling homesickness and I broke down emotionally multiple times about not wanting to go for higher studies. I said I will stop the process and look for small job in India. in that way at least I would be happy living with Mom and Dad.

    Then My parents convinced me and told me that You have done all this process and do not let it go waste. Go, Finish and come back is what they told me. So I came to US with bag full of emotions. Then I cried for 2 months looking at US lifestyle, slowly getting used to it. Missing my grandparents a lot and their love towards me. I have close connection to my grand mom which more than my mom. Somehow with all the emotional drama and support from relatives in Canton, I graduated from University of Michigan Dearborn. Often one guy used to tell me, I would never return to India cause I am a GULTI GUY- meaning Telugu Guy. I mean ya Telugu ppl might more in US, but not that everyone stays back. There are people who move back too. Anyway, He got job somewhere in Indiana so he’s far away rom me and I thank god for that.

    I was jobless for four months after graduation, there were days when I used to skip food to get through the month. Me and my friends often used to share immigration woes. Everyone had a though of going to back to India, but no one dared. Each one was waiting for the other one to make the first move. Some were scared because of What Relatives, Neighbors would say.

    Then I got a contract job in good company but it was a contract- NOT PERMANENT. Everyone said work hard, they will make permanent. on the other hand, It was shock to me cause NOW I HAVE TO LIVE ALONE in another state away from Family, Friends, Family from India and Family from USA. So `I moved to the new place and started calling my parents three times a day, crying and always asking them when to come back, how to come back. This Decision was hard for me cause I am Graduate in Mechanical Engineer and not IT so it is difficult for me to find a job in India. Now I am stuck in USA, with no future plan and how to return back to India. Can you guide me with friends or connections who are mechanical engineers and moved back to India?. I wish I was software guy who can switch countries like anything.

  41. Betsy says:

    Do you know of any Facebook groups/pages for Indian folks who have returned from the US?

  42. Abhijnan Kundu says:

    Thanks for this informative blog. We are planning to move back to India after spending 6 years. We will need to get moving service. Do you know if there is any reliable mover to do this job?

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