Working in Houston?
Expat Business Info Houston
Work, Work, Work: Where to Look for It and Other Advice
With the sheer number of foreign companies with established offices and subsidiaries in the city, your chances of coming to Houston by way of an intra-company transfer should be fairly high. For a look at some nonimmigrant visa types accommodating such transferees, please refer to our article on moving to Houston.
If, however, you do not happen to be working for a company with a presence in Houston, things could be a bit trickier. For starters, it is illegal for foreigners to come to Houston, or anywhere else in the USA, on a visitor’s visa in order to look for employment. This means you instead will have to send out applications from your current home country. If you get so far as to be invited for an interview, the Temporary Business Visitor visa might be for you.
There are many job search engines on the web that you can use to look for work in Houston, but you can also browse the online editions of local newspapers for job openings. Alas, Houston’s newspaper landscape is not all that diverse. The Houston Chronicle might be your best option.
In our article on working in the USA, we have also gone into detail about the infamous hidden job market that is commonplace in many, if not most, of the USA’s largest expat magnets. Many desirable jobs are not openly advertised, but rather offered to employees within the company, close business contacts, or acquaintances. For outsiders, it is obviously frustratingly hard to gain access to these jobs. Putting in the effort to build a tight-knit network of contacts in Houston will therefore definitely pay off.
Knowing the right people will not cut it if you are not thoroughly prepared for the job market in the US. Read our detailed guide article on the topic for more insights and advice.
No State Tax, but Don’t Forget the Federal One
Texas is one of just seven US states that has no personal state income tax. Rather, Texas manages its budget by imposing taxes on just about everything else. On the website of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, you can see a complete list of taxes in Texas. Even though you won’t have to pay income tax on a state level, don’t forget that you are taxed on a federal level. Most foreigners are equally taxed as US citizens, regardless of their residency status. To find out whether you qualify as a resident or non-resident alien for US tax purposes, you should take the Substantial Presence Test on the website of the IRS.
While Texas might not impose income tax, most other states do and federal income tax applies nationwide. You can prepare for filing your tax return by reading our guide on income tax for expats in the US.
Business Values: Work Hard or Go Home
Thanks to countless movies and television shows set in offices, you have most likely been exposed to many aspects of working in the USA — and many of those hold true! It is a well-known fact that small talk is not exactly vital to doing business in Houston or the rest of the country. The most valued trait you can possess as an employee or manager is the willingness to work hard.
Houston has one of the longest workweeks in the US. According to a report, Houston ranks fourth among the 30 largest cities in the country. The city’s employees work an average of 43 hours and 44 minutes each week. As you can see, Houston’s workforce is clearly highly motivated, and as an expat, you will be expected to keep up. At times, it may also be expected of you to work overtime.
Most frequently, coworkers and, in some cases, direct superiors are addressed simply by their first name. You might even be introduced to most of your colleagues in this way. Being on a first-name basis, however, does not necessarily hold the same significance here as in your home country in terms of familiarity and/or friendship.
As for business meetings, expect lots of them. Rather than conference rooms or the office, a restaurant is often a very popular setting for meetings. Business lunches are generally an important aspect of working in Houston and the US, so you might want to leave some breathing room in your monthly budget!
Before navigating American corporate culture, it is important to get to know some key features by heart. Our article on US business culture is a great place to start.
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