English for new U.S. immigrants

Your lifelong dream of moving to the USA has come true and with a Green Card in your pocket, you are ready for a fresh start. One of the hurdles you may need to jump is learning English. Even if you speak English well there are certain words that may be helpful to know when, for example, looking for housing, opening a bank account, buying health insurance or a car and filing your U.S. tax returns.

Buying or renting a house

The American dream usually embodies the image of large house with a white picket fence. There are, however, many different types of homes in the USA. As a lucky Green Card winner, you can choose where and how you want to live in America! Searching for a house in the USA also means learning the English vocabulary that specifically refers to house-hunting.  

Vocabulary to help you search for a home:

  • There are different types of homes to choose from including apartments, condos, townhouses, one-bedroom houses and private homes. 
  • Look for housing in the classified ads in the newspaper or online. If you want someone to look for you, hire a real estate agent or contact a property management firm.
  • In addition to paying your monthly rent, there are also other costs to be aware of. This includes something called utilities. Utilities refer to gas, electricity, water and trash removal costs. Make sure you know what utilities you must pay for.
  • When you decide to sign a contract called the rental agreement, it is important to know that you are called the tenant and the property manager is called the landlord. A rental agreement is also sometimes called a lease.
  • If you are buying a home and need to take out a loan, you will have to apply for what is called a mortgage. A mortgage is the loan you take from a bank to specifically pay for a home.
  • Most landlords require you to pay a security deposit before you move in. This money will be given back to you when you move out if no repairs are needed.
  • Make sure to check the cancellation policy of your rental agreement. If you want to move out and cancel your contract, it is called terminating your lease or contract.

Are you not yet a lucky Green Card winner? Then don’t miss your chance of making your dream of owning a home in the USA come true and apply to the current Green Card Lottery now!

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account is one of the first things you should do after you move to the USA. You will need a bank account to rent or buy a home, build credit history, etc. Most banks schedule appointments for you to open an account. At this appointment, you will be confronted with words that may be new to you. It is important to know what they are.

English Vocabulary


Savings account

An account that pays interest. This account is used to save money and not for day-to-day transactions.

Checking account

An account that supports day-to-day transactions like withdrawals and deposits.

Individual ownership

The name on the account is the sole owner of the account. Only this one person has access to the account.

Joint account

The account is in the name of more than one person. Each name on the account has access to the account.

Joint account with right of survivorship

This is a joint account with a stipulation that if one person named on the account dies, the other person gets 100% of the remaining balance.

Account in trust

An account set up and controlled by one person for the benefit of another. For example, an account opened for a child by a parent.


The person who opens an account for another person is called the custodian, usually a parent who opens an account for a minor.


A beneficiary is someone who benefits from an account. For example, a child is a beneficiary if a parent gives them an account in trust.

Bank charges

The money a customer pays a bank for their services.

FDIC insured bank

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protects customers who have accounts with insured banks.

Safety deposit box

A box holding your valuables kept in either a bank, vault or post office.

Compound interest

Interest that is calculated on both the principle balance and the already accumulated interest.

Simple interest

Interest calculated on the principle balance only.


All the information, rules and regulations concerning the account’s fees and services.


Buying U.S. health insurance

One of the most complicated aspects of moving to the USA is applying for health insurance. It is, however, not impossible and should not prevent you from successfully starting you new life in the land of your dreams. The following English terms should also help you pick the best health insurance for you or your family.

Vocabulary for what you pay:

  • Premium: The fee you pay monthly to a health insurance company for your health insurance plan. If you have health insurance from an employer, this is paid by them.
  • Deductible: Many health insurance plans in America require you to pay a certain amount every year before the insurance will start to cover costs. This is called a deductible.
  • Copayment/co-insurance: A copayment is the money you must pay for any health services like doctor appointments or medication. A copayment is a set amount like 15 USD for every doctor’s visit.
  • Out-of-Pocket Limit: The maximum amount of money you must pay in a year before your health care plan covers all costs.

Types of health care coverage:

  • Provider network: The network of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who work with your health insurance provider.
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and Point of Service Plans (POS): If you decide to visit a health care provider who is outside of your provider network, then you should consider a PPO or POS plan. These plans allow you to seek coverage outside of the provider network
  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOS) and Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs): These plans require you to only visit health care providers who have agreed to work with the health insurance company. They require you to choose a “primary care doctor”. Referrals are required if you want to visit a specialist. 
  • Preauthorization: Preauthorization refers to the requirement of the customer to get permission from their health insurance provider before receiving certain treatments, medications, services or equipment. Approval is not guaranteed.

Health care services:

  • Benefits: The health care services provided under a certain health care plan are called benefits. These are defined in a contract. For example, treatment of illnesses, accidents, hospital visits, surgery, etc.
  • Claim: A claim is a request for the health insurance company to pay for medical services. A claim is made by the plan member or the health care provider.
  • Carrier: The carrier, also called the payer, is the health insurance company that pays for your medical costs.
  • Dependent: Any person covered by a health insurance plan are called dependents. Dependents include individuals, spouses or children.

Choosing the correct health care plan is not easy for Green Card Lottery winners, but this vocabulary should give you a firm foundation for starting your search for American health insurance.

Buying a car

Buying a car in the USA can be very exciting. Nothing says freedom like the wide-open roads traversing across America. Many Green Card holders will quickly find out that living in the USA without a car is next to impossible. Automobiles are an important aspect of the American lifestyle. Keep reading to find out what English words you need to know before buying a car.

The first step to finding the perfect car is deciding on the make and model of the car. Make refers to the company that made the car like Toyota or BMW. The car model refers to the type of care it is, like a Toyota Prius or a BMW 3 series.

English vocabulary to describe cars

English Vocabulary



Refers to cars made in the USA.


Refers to cars made outside of the USA.


A car in mint condition is nearly new and in excellent condition.


You will hear this term for a car that is in terrible condition and usually doesn’t run.


The term loaded refers to a car that has many special features.


Stick-shift is the name for cars with a manual transmission.


Standard is the name for cars with an automatic transmission.


Buying a car “as-is” means getting a car with no warranty and you take on all expenses.


English vocabulary for buying and financing a car

English Vocabulary


Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The cost you pay each ear to borrow money. In other words, the annual interest you pay on a car loan based on a percentage.

Blue Book value

The Blue Book lists the market values of all cars. Always check the Blue Book before purchasing a new or used car.

Dealer charges

Any extra charges for additional services or products provided by the car dealer, e.g. service fees.

Dealer installed option

Any additional features added to the car by the dealership, e.g. accessories, fabric protections, anti-fogging, etc.


Depreciation refers to the decreasing value of your car over time.

Down payment

The amount of money you pay for the car up-front. Usually this is 20% of the total car price.


An attractive rate or cash refund to encourage you to buy a car. This is offered by the manufacturer and not the dealership directly.

Joint tenancy

When the car is owned by two or more people.

Maintenance or service contract

The contract which defines what types of maintenance the dealership covers and what services you must pay yourself.


The length of a loan or lease.


Vin refers to the vehicle identification number which every car has.


Filing U.S. tax returns

Being a Green Card holder comes with certain responsibilities and that includes filing a U.S. tax return. For most cases, we recommend contacting a tax specialist for this especially if it is your first U.S. tax return. In the end, all tax returns must be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Here are some words that you might come across while completing your forms:

  • Salary: a fixed amount of money that you earn per month or year. At the end of the year, your employer will give you a W-2 Form. The W-2 Form is the record of all income earned and taxes withheld for the year.
  • Withholding, otherwise known as pay-as-you-earn taxation, refers to the amount of money your employer withholds from your paycheck every month. This money is directly deposited to the U.S. government.
  • If you are single, you must choose the single filing status. If you are married, you can choose the filing status married filing joint or married filing separate.
  • Not all income earned is taxable. If you qualify, there are tax exemptions.
  • If the person filing the tax return has qualifying children or dependents, they can apply for a dependency exemption.
  • After filing, some people receive a tax refund. This means they get a check from the U.S. government.

Learning English is all a part of the experience of living and working in the USA. Before you know it, you will be speaking like a true American. Until then, though, let this guide help you kick-start your new life in the USA! Apply for the current Green Card Lottery now if you want to among those who have already had their dream come true!