Authored by Gwen Payne

Immigrants offer valuable cultural and economic contributions to their host country, but what about the country they leave behind? Supporting your community and family back home can have a very positive impact on your country. Sending even a couple of hundred dollars back home every month can make an enormous difference in the lives of your loved ones and the community in which they live. Dr. Arnold Heller shares what you need to know about supporting your family from abroad.

You Can Send Money Via Remittance

Remittance refers to a transfer of money, often by immigrants to family members in their home country. On average, migrant workers send $200 to $300 home every month or two, representing about 15 percent of their earnings. While this may seem like a small amount, this money can make up over half the total income for households in developing countries.

Thanks to advancements in technology and the substantial growth of the United States economy, remittance payments have increased significantly in recent years. In 2018, the World Bank estimated that remittance to low- and middle-income countries reached $529 billion! These funds account for a large percentage of the economy in developing countries. In fact, remittances have been known to exceed international aid! 

Carefully Choose How to Send Money 

When it comes to sending money back home, you have a few different options. Wire transfers are the traditional method. While wire transfers may work fine for infrequent transfers, they can be complicated to understand, expensive, slow, difficult to track, and vulnerable to fraud. You could also send a check or a prepaid debit card, but this is also slow and risky. 

Thankfully, there are now more efficient and secure ways to send money internationally. Online money transfer services are the fastest and cheapest method for sending remittance payments to loved ones back home. Remittance providers offer little to no fees, depending on the amount of money you send, so you can save a lot this way. For example, with Remitly, it costs nothing to send money to relatives in India using the economy method if you’re sending over $1,000. 

Find Other Ways to Offer Support

Sending remittance payments isn’t the only way to support your community back home. If your loved ones want to visit you, consider buying them plane tickets. Compare fares from different airlines through Kayak to save on tickets. You could even help them navigate the immigration process so they can come and live with you permanently.

Sending care packages is another great way to offer support for members of your home community. For example, The California Sunday Magazine explains that many Filipinos send massive care packages, called balikbayan boxes, filled with canned food, personal hygiene products, bedding, clothes, toys, and tasty treats to their families from abroad. Besides helping your family meet their basic needs, sending a care package through a service like Pinoy Box Delivery is a great way to show your loved ones that you’re thinking about them!

Starting a Business as an Immigrant

Many people come to the U.S. with the dream of starting a business and making enough money to give their families a better life. If you want to start an American business as a foreign national, you will need to choose a company structure, register your company in the state where it’s located, and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so you can get a business license, hire employees, pay taxes, and open a business bank account. Get everything set up properly before you launch your business to ensure you don’t run into legal issues down the road!

It can be tough to live and work in a foreign country when you have relatives overseas who rely on you. Just remember — the support you offer to loved ones back home will have a huge impact on your family. Whether you send money, care packages, plane tickets, or all of the above, your family is bound to appreciate all the hard work you’re doing to help them out!