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Chicago: Finding a Job and Social Security

If you are looking for big city flair with a small town feel and excellent job opportunities, you may want to consider Chicago. For a better overview of employment opportunities, read our Expat Guide on working in Chicago with information on the job market, social security, and taxes.
Chicago prides itself on being one of the greenest cities in the US.

Newspapers and Unsolicited Applications: How to Find Work

Once you know which job industry you would like to work in and what type of position you have the skills for, finding a vacancy is the next step. The best way to find a job in Chicago is to look in the classifieds section in the city’s major newspapers: the Chicago Tribune, the Sun Times and the Daily Herald come highly recommended. Additionally, you can scour websites such as Chicago Jobs or as well. In the USA, it is very common to send unsolicited job applications with a cover letter explaining what skills and experience you bring to the table.

Having trouble finding your dream job in Chicago? No need to give up! Read our guide on the job search in the US for a wealth of useful tips and pointers.

The “City in a Garden”: Towards a Sustainable Chicago

Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has stated that the city is committed to becoming the greenest in the United States. With the Sustainable Chicago Action Agenda of 2012, the city has launched a range of environmentally friendly initiatives, such as Chicago Green Roofs, the Chicago Brownfields Initiative, the Chicago Climate Action Plan, and the Green Permit Program.

In addition to these initiatives, which are designed to slow down the deterioration of the environment, Chicago also invests significantly in green business. In particular, industries such as wind energy, biomass, construction, water, and transportation are thriving in Chicago. For example, there are currently more than 20 wind energy companies and over 70 R&D facilities situated in Chicago’s metropolitan area.

Which Work Visa Is the One for You?

If you are intent on working in Chicago, you should first and foremost begin your preparation by obtaining a work permit. The United States has very strict policies concerning visas, and the application process tends to take some time.

If you are planning to stay in the USA indefinitely, you need to apply for a Permanent Worker Visa. There are several different categories:

  • EB-1: first-preference visa for people with special skills in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics, as well as professors, researchers, and executives of multinational companies.
  • EB-2: second-preference visa for persons who hold advanced degrees or have exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences, or business.
  • EB-3: third-preference visa reserved for professionals and skilled workers with a minimum of two years of training in their field.
  • EB-4: fourth-preference visa reserved for so-called special immigrants, such as religious workers, international organization employees, and physicians.
  • EB-5: fifth-preference visa for foreign entrepreneurs who invest at least 500,000 USD in a US company or create/sustain at least ten US full-time jobs within two years.

For E-2 and E-3 applicants, your prospective employer must prove that hiring you, a foreign employee, will not negatively affect the wages or working conditions of US workers in similar positions.

For more in-depth information on all available visa categories for expatriates, please consult our guide articles on nonimmigrant visas and green cards.

What You Need to Know about Social Security and Taxes in Chicago

Everyone in the United States — regardless of residence status — is required to have a social security card, which is necessary for opening bank accounts, renting homes, applying for jobs, and, of course, for social security purposes. To find out how you can apply for a social security card, consult the Social Security Administration’s fact sheet.

Taxes and social security are controlled by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the US Department of the Treasury. Most foreign nationals, regardless of their residence status, will be taxed on equal terms as US Americans. Visit the Internal Revenue Service for more detailed information on when and how to file your tax return as a foreigner in the US. There are also numerous tax attorneys and accountants who can help you out with any questions you may have. Simply consult the Chicago branch of the Yellow Pages or ask your employer for help.

Social security and taxes are two topics that every expat and citizen of the US should be educated on. Our guide articles on taxation and the social security system offer you a handy overview.


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

Friedrich Schloßberg

"At first, I tried to google all information on Chicago. Then I found InterNations and some of its local scouts gave me a personal tour."

Kristina Serou

"It is great to live in the Windy City and to enjoy the American way of life. However, I am also glad to attend InterNations events to meet other expats."

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