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I would like to travel in the USA for a period of 3 - 6 months. But I want to spend some time working for my employer (remote work) and getting paid by the employer. Is this possible under a tourist visa (B1/B2)?

I hope this is OK since I will not be getting paid by a US employer. I am in the IT trade so all that I will be needing is my own laptop and a connection to the internet. The money I earn would actually help me pay for the expenses I get during the holiday.

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you want or you will? Could your problem be rephrased as : Your non-US employer would pay you in another country while you are working in the US, and you're asking which visa you'd need? – Vince Jan 15 '13 at 8:42
Thanks for the reply. My non-us employer has no issues paying me for my work during the holiday in the US. My question is whether US will like that arrangement and allow me in to the country as a Business/Visitor B1 Visa in to US and allow me to stay for a period of 3 - 6 months. – Ruch Jan 15 '13 at 9:06
I think you have 2 questions: what visa you need for your leisure trip, and whether it is allowed to remote work from abroad. While I don't see why you would need to justify your activities when you travel for leisure, other people on this site probably have more experience in this field. – Vince Jan 15 '13 at 9:20
This is done all the time by the US and non-US employees on their vacations/holidays. Technically while you are doing work in while being on US soil you are not working in the US since you're not being employed by a US employer and your travel to the US is not employment related, so apply for a tourist visa and you should be fine. – Karlson Jan 15 '13 at 14:49
Thank you all for your input as it helped me a lot. Just to follow up on how it went down if anyone is interested, I had no issues at the border control at US. I had a letter from my employer prepared in case it was required but it wasn't needed. Border protection agent did raise the question of why coming in to US shores for such a long period and they were satisfied with my answer which was to visit the country while working remotely for my overseas employer – Ruch May 10 '13 at 18:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Since so many people liked the comment I thought I'd turn it into an answer.

What you are describing is done all the time by the US and non-US employees on their vacations/holidays. Technically while you are doing work in while being on US soil you are not working in the US since you're not being employed by a US employer and your travel to the US is not employment related, so apply for a tourist visa and you should be fine.

To be more specific I found several sites explaining the differences between B1/B2 and H visas in more laymen's terms, so you can try to read up on that to make your determination:

And last but not least

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How important is the "your travel is not employment related" part? Does the US distinguish between "I am here to take my kids to Disney, but will code in the evenings" and "I am here to meet with the US clients of my non-US employer all day, plus I will code in the evenings on their project" ? – Kate Gregory Jan 16 '13 at 17:02
If you answer the question of "What is the purpose of your visit" exactly as you put it the Immigration officer at the border or State Department official at a US consulate will likely err on the side of caution and make it a B1 and depending on what country you're from Visa may be denied altogether. – Karlson Jan 16 '13 at 17:12
@KateGregory This distinction is important. If you are primarily in the country to work for your non-US employer, which has dealings in the US, then you cannot enter/stay on a B1/B2. See the case of the Russian Boeing engineers here:… and also user16885's answer. – imoatama Aug 12 '14 at 1:19

My visa was immediately rejected when I mentioned that I was planning to work for a German company while in the States, with the reasoning that I was planning to work there.

As you can read in this article, the US tax law states that every income from abroad of more than 3000 $ per year counts as a US income (which means that taxes need to be paid in the US). With a B1/B2 visa, you are not allowed to have a US income. Now, this seems to be an ongoing debate among lawyers, and some argue that the tax law is independent from the immigration law. But in the end, the law does not count, but the personal choice of the immigration officer does.

I would thus recommed to not mention such a job in the visa interview, or try to suspend the job during the stay in the US.

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I know this is old, but I was reading through this question. This user says "in the end, the law does not count, but..." This is wrong. As far as the relatively simple act of entering the US goes, you're right, the tax law plays no part in the determination of Border Control. Also, a person who works remotely will have an extremely high chance of never being noticed. The fact remains, that the tax laws of the US still apply to work being done within the US borders. If you earn more than the amount stated in the law, you are liable for US taxes, period. – CGCampbell Sep 19 at 13:19

Tourist visas do not allow you to work as employed in the issuing country. But, they do not prohibit you from doing your 'home' work while on vacation.

So anyone from anywhere who is working on their laptop or smartphone while on short or long vacation is not under any penalty.

You can do your work/ personal stuff there, as long as your employment i.e. employer-employee relationship has no direct legal, financial bindings with the destination country of tourism.

PS: For all technical purposes, you are not going to work in the US, even if you are remotely working for your German employer. It is stupid for you to mention that. Why?

What is your intended relationship with US/ US Consulate/ US Visa - as a tourist.. right..?

Whether you go there and check your Germany work email or do some presentations remotely for your Germany company or take up a dance class for a few weekends, it is outside of the domain of your relationship with the US.

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The intent of the law is to preserve U.S. work for U.S. workers. Everything else is fuzzy.

From the USCIS web site: "Employment — Any service or labor performed by an employee for an employer within the United States, but not including casual domestic employment or duties performed by nonimmigrant crewmen (D-1 or D-2)."

You can't be employed on a "B" visa. As an attorney I could argue that "within the United States" applies to the employer, but if I was prosecution and someone cared enough to push it, the phrase could apply to the physical location of the employee and be grounds for removal from the United States.

So look at the intent. Can anything I might do take work away from legal U.S. workers?

As for user16885, I suspect that you said something in the interview that indicated you would be doing "employment". If you have a transcript (which you don't, because there is no appeal from a State Department decision on things like this) I could probably pick it out.

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