Tips For Spouses Of International Employees

Last Updated on January 5, 2020 by Estrella

Tips for spouses of international employees
Tips for spouses of international employees. Photo by Esther Merbt from Pixabay

A number of my clients are spouses of international employees who moved to the U.S. because their wife or husband has a new job here. These spouses have a successful career in their country, but cannot work here because of their visa. If they have children, the spouse would spend this time helping their little ones find a good school, meet new friends, get tutors to help them succeed in their new language. If they do not have children, some find that there is too much time on their hand and not enough friends to talk with. What can they do while waiting for their work authorization? Here are some tips for spouses of international employees to make the most of this waiting period.

How spouses of international employees can build a new community

Whether you have children to take care of or not, in a new country you are building a new circle of friends. A new community for you and your family. And if you are planning to enter your profession again, this is an excellent time to build your network, BEFORE you need to look for work.

Networking with others in your profession

Even if you cannot work now while waiting for your work permit, you can start building your professional network. Nurture those relationships long before you need to find work in your field.

Use Meetup groups to network

One way to start networking is to find groups in your profession that meet regularly to educate themselves, to help one another with referrals. is one of the sites you can find such groups. It is not just a site for hobbies or social groups. There is an extensive list of professional groups.

Search for professional groups in LinkedIn

Another way to find these groups is on After you log in, type in the search term, then in the dropdown, select groups. For example, let’s say after you log in, you type in “ESL” in the search box. As you are typing, the dropdown will show “ESL in job,” “ESL in people,” “ESL in group.” Select groups, and you’ll see a bunch of results. To help filter that a little further, continue typing in the search box and add “Seattle.” This narrows down the results. Even so, not all the results are related to Seattle. So you can start combing through the groups from here. Some groups may meet in person. Others may just have discussions online.

If you find an interesting group that’s only online but not meet locally, still request to join the group. There could be group members that are located locally. As you get acquainted with others in the group in your discussions, ask them if anyone could recommend a local group for you.

Building your community through classmates

Depending on where your English level is, you may consider enrolling in a local college ESL class. One of my clients came to Seattle in April. Just weeks after she attended ESL class, she was already inviting classmates to her home for lunch. They take breaks together, and take turns going to each other’s home for lunch after school. And as they advance to other levels together, they continue to do things together. Within a very short time, my client has formed her own community. This makes a big difference in adjusting to a new culture, even though she calls her family everyday.

And if you are not interested in taking ESL classes, you can go to informal conversation groups offered for free by ELLA–short for English Language Learners Alliance. There are various groups meeting at different times and days. It will be easy to make some new friends here.

I hope these ideas will help you quickly build a circle of friends and a network of professional connections. If you have questions that have not been addressed by these tips, feel free to write me at

If you find this article helpful, here is one on A busy social life with little English in Seattle.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *