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Security and Safety

Many of you are arriving from metropolitan areas larger than Boston, so you may be familiar with issues of crime in crowded cities and suburban areas. We suggest you follow the rule of caution when you are uncertain about your new surroundings, new transactions, and new acquaintances.

After living in the Boston area for a time, you will gradually come to know what is essential for your own and your family’s well-being. In the meantime, we offer the following topics of information for your consideration.

Personal safety

Boston is a relatively safe city, but you should always be cautious. Parks and gardens are beautiful, but some should be avoided, and you should be very careful or bring friends if you choose to walk through them at night.

Don’t invite people that you just met at bars or restaurants to your apartment—and don’t go to their apartment if they invite you (you can exchange phone numbers or email addresses and make plans to meet each other again in the future).

Hitchhiking (having a stranger drive you to where you would like to go) is very dangerous.

Avoid carrying your purse and/or wallet loosely or in obvious places where they may be easily stolen. Don't leave purses/bags on chairs or on restroom door hooks.


Do not drive without a valid driver’s license. Learn the traffic regulations. It is the law in Massachusetts (and many other U.S. states) that you and all passengers wear seat belts unless you are in a bus or taxi.

It is a Massachusetts law for any child under age five or less than 40 pounds (about 18.2 kilos) to be securely buckled into a child’s safety seat unless you are in a bus or a taxi. A child’s safety seat must meet certain legal specifications (see for more details).

Do not leave your child alone in the car even for a short time. Always lock your car when parking or driving. Do not leave your packages or valuables in sight in your parked car (put them in the trunk).

Do not drive under the influence of illegal drugs, alcohol, or with open containers of alcohol in your car. Do not ever hitchhike (let a person you do not know drive you to your destination), and do not pick up other people who are hitchhiking.


Walk only in well-lit areas. If you must walk alone, be alert and aware of what is around you. If you think someone is following you, do not lead him/her to your house/apartment. Instead, go to a nearby well-lit public place where there are other people.

Register with your embassy/consulate

While you are in the U.S., it’s a good idea to register with your home country’s embassy or consulate.

Your country’s embassy can provide emergency help for issues such as a lost passport or a sudden need to return to your home country. Please search online to locate the closest embassy.  

Identity theft

Identity theft is when a person takes your personal information and pretends to be you. This crime is becoming more common in the U.S., and it can be very complicated to fix an identity theft situation.

Identity theft could result in:

  • False credit cards being used in your name

  • Arrests or criminal records formed by another person using your name

  • Your personal information used for illegal purposes

If your identification documents or Social Security Card are stolen

  • Contact your local police office and file a police report

  • Contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to request a replacement driver's license

  • Contact the Social Security Administration to request a replacement card and request a lost/stolen warning in your file

  • Contact your credit card company

  • Contact your Mass General Brigham employer if your work ID cards or badges have been lost/stolen

Protect your legal documents & identity

Never respond to requests for personal or financial information through phone, email, text message, or social media. Always be suspicious of a caller asking you for access or asking you to enter anything into your internet browser. Do not open an email or click on a link if you do not know the sender.

  • Carry your passport only when traveling. Keep your passport in a safe place

  • Use a Massachusetts driver’s license or a Massachusetts Liquor ID as your primary identification

  • Keep only copies of important documents with you (including your I-94, DS-2019, or I-797, and the visa stamp page) and also another set of copies at your home. Carry original documents only when required

  • Get more tips to prevent identity theft from the FTC:

Other safety and security concerns

The U.S. government requires that you be informed of the Department of State's contact information and human trafficking protection laws . These laws explain that someone who has come to the U.S. temporarily to work or study has the right to:

  • Be treated and paid fairly

  • Not be held in a job against your will

  • Keep your passport and other identification documents in your possession

  • Report abuse without retaliation

  • Request help from unions, immigrant and labor rights groups, and other groups

  • Seek justice in U.S. courts

What immigration officers are permitted to do

When you are entering or leaving the U.S., immigration officers may search computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music, and other media players, and any other electronic or digital devices, to ensure compliance with customs, immigration, and other laws.

This is intended to enforce laws that relate to terrorism and other national security matters, human and bulk cash smuggling, contraband, and child pornography. These searches can also reveal information about financial and commercial crimes, such as those relating to copyright, trademark, and export control violations.

Visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to learn more about immigration officials' search authority. 

Documentation recommendations

If you are married, we recommend that you bring proof of your marriage (copy of your marriage certificate, family book, etc.). Copies or originals of your university degrees are often useful if you extend your stay in the U.S. or change your visa status.