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Expat Business Info Boston

Compared to other major US cities such as Los Angeles and New York, many people do not have as clear an impression of what Boston’s business atmosphere is like. You might be surprised! Working in Boston is your key to one of the biggest urban economies in the US. Our guide to Boston has all the vital facts.
Boston's many excellent higher education institutions create a lot of competition on the job market, even for highly skilled expats.

Are You a Resident or Non-Resident Alien? Find Out Now

When it comes to taxes, the US government distinguishes between two different categories of foreign nationals living in the country: resident and non-resident aliens. You are considered a resident alien under US tax law if you meet either the Green Card test — i.e. if you are a Green Card holder — or the substantial presence test.

In simplified terms, to meet the substantial presence test you must have been in the USA for at least 31 days during the current year and a total of 183 days in the past three years (including the current year). The homepage of the IRS has further information on this subject, including exemption rules. Generally speaking, if you are living and working in the US on a permanent basis, you are taxed like a US citizen.

If you do not pass either of the two tests, you are considered a non-resident alien for tax purposes. As a non-resident alien, only your income from sources within the USA is subject to taxation.

As is the case virtually everywhere in the world, the tax regulations of the IRS are fairly complicated, for foreign residents and nationals alike. We highly recommend reading about taxation of aliens on the IRS website. These links might be of special interest to you:

When to Get Your Social Security Number

A social security card shows your individual social security number and is of utmost importance in the USA, almost every bit as important as your ID. It is a prerequisite to getting any kind of work in the country, and every citizen and resident is required to acquire one. The Social Security Administration has compiled lots of useful information on their social security number overview page. We highly recommend reading it in detail.

If you plan on entering the US on an immigrant visa, you can apply for a social security card with your visa application. Nonimmigrants should file for their card online ten days after their arrival in the US. The standard social security contribution is 6.2% of your monthly salary.

For further information on the above topics, please see our detailed articles on taxation and social security in the US — we leave no question unanswered.

Why Networking Is Important: The Hidden Job Market

In the US, not all job openings are advertised in the classifieds of the local newspapers, on online job portals, or even on company websites. In fact, it is estimated that less than half of all jobs are openly advertised. The rest are part of what is commonly referred to as the hidden job market.

This basically means that knowledge of current or upcoming openings tends to first be passed on between colleagues, friends, or business contacts. Unfortunately, it is very likely that many of the best and most lucrative jobs are only available to those with “access” to this hidden market. As such, networking and maintaining good contacts throughout the business world are vital to career-driven individuals.

What to Keep in Mind When Looking for a Job

As it is illegal to enter the US on a tourist visa with the intent to look for jobs, your job search will have to start from abroad. Assuming you do not have an existing business network, your first stop will most likely be internet resources as well as the classified sections of the large print publications in Boston. If you are lucky enough to work for a company with offices in Boston, just inquire about the possibility of being assigned there.

One way of getting a handle on the hidden job market, even as an expat without much of a network, can be unsolicited applications. Look for companies you’d be interested in working for, and give it a try. These kinds of applications are not at all rare, and if your CV and application make enough of an impression to justify the considerable cost of hiring a foreigner, your chances might actually be alright. Best of luck!

If you have always dreamed of being your own boss instead of sticking to the usual 9-to-5 routine, why not start your own business in the US? With the information and tips in our guide article, you can get a glimpse of what awaits you down this exciting road.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Guillaume De Faloix

"Everyone told me I had to attend an InterNations event here in Boston. I finally did, and from then, I didn't miss a single one."

Raquel Santos

"Friendly Ambassadors, various local scouts, great events - InterNations is one big happy family of expats here in Boston."

Global Expat Guide