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.

  • 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
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 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
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 9:06
  • 8
    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
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 14:49
  • 5
    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
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 18:07
  • 2
    @Ruch - can you tell what letter from your employer did you have? Did it state that you're a remote worker?
    – Aidas
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 14:38

8 Answers 8


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

  • 7
    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" ? Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 17:02
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 17:12
  • 7
    @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: seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/… and also user16885's answer.
    – imoatama
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 1:19
  • 1
    Your state department link is dead.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 16:12
  • 4
    @Karlson ALL dead links on this site are editable at any time
    – Bryan Ash
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 21:49

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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 13:19
  • 2
    It's also worth noting that when I was working remotely for my US employer after having relocated to Germany, the IRS told me that because I was doing the work in Germany, it was foreign income for tax purposes, not US income. (Of course, being a US citizen, I still have to file a US tax return every year. 😒) I would expect the reverse to be true also: If you're doing the work in the US, then it's US income, regardless of where your employer lives.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 7:40
  • 1
    @Kyralessa Or more likely, you'd be hit twice. Once by the IRS and once by your own country's tax agency...
    – jwenting
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 7:55

I was denied a visa by telling I may work remotely while on US, now I realize that I may have phrased this in a way that was too open the first time.

Second time I clarified on the application that I worked from home as a freelancer for companies of my country and that these companies only employ local freelancers, and it was approved. I guess that was because of the fact that my work, despite of being done remotely, do not have any chance of taking work away from US workers.

Internet makes borders blurry, so you have to make sure you phrase your case correctly, not only on your visa application and interview but also at the point of entry if the officer asks questions about your work, a lot depends on the mood of the officer as well


I was denied re-entry into the USA as a Canadian due to mentioning that I had been working as an independent contractor. My Fiance lived in the USA and I am barred from entering/ applying for visa for 6 months. Also, I have to present US income tax proof * and * canadian income tax proof. The officer treated me like a criminal and I was escorted out of the border security office while missing my flight.

SO, if you can avoid it, never give them any information at all.


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.


3 - 6 months of vacationing can be interpreted as an intent to immigrate. You need to provide the immigration officer with a clear view of you intentions during your stay in US soil. What will you be doing for so long? Where will you stay? Do you have any friends or relatives in the USA? Are they legal? Will you attend any educational institution?


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.

I am quoting below a more detailed thought process response on the subject of establishing what is paid "work" under a jurisdiction or sovereign legal framework.


Full Answer from there:

Short Answer of the Legal Gray area in between that needs Juris Prudence:

  • In general, 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.

  • There are explicit things and implied concerns here and will vary from nation to nation.

Before laws can be created, formulated, articulated, ratified and then be approved by a Nation's legal / govt system there is certain amount of Juris Prudence that has to be undergone to establish ground, premise, case & jurisdiction for how those laws would be established & executed.

Pertinent Question to ask: What Counts as "Working" in a scenario ?




PS: E.g. US Citizens are taxed in certain manner irrespective of where they are, but they can't or don't tax them on EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE.

But, we must first ask what counts as "working" in said Nation "X" under a "tourist visa"?

Typically, a Work Visa (or Legal Work Permit/ Eligibility) or similar Professional/ Business is required if your intent and action entail "work" that has legal/ financial implications in the said Nation.

Basically, its a legal approval or disapproval to engage in "RECEIVING Financial Payment for SPECIFIC ACTIVITY" under the said Govt & Jurisdiction.

So what counts as work?

  • For a chef cooking a meal for his friends in destination? But, if he is not being paid for it in a legal/ financial binding as per regulations/ jurisdiction of a country, then is he working from the point of view of that country?

  • In an emergency, if a medical doctor on vacation provides some help to someone, without any payment; does it count as work?

  • If as an international lawyer, I advise a cousin on how he should tackle something legally, without any fee etc., does it count as work?

Again, leaving the "medical/ legal practice" privileges aside, these things TYPICALLY do not constitute FINANCIAL / LEGAL WORK ACTIVITY but as PERSONAL ACTIVITY due to LACK of FINANCIAL INCENTIVE or TRANSACTIONS, which would come as being under the purview of "requiring a work permit" from the Nation.

  • Now, there are plenty of professionals and entrepreneurs who are jet savvy frequent flyers, hopping between client meetings, conferences/ exhibitions, networking meets etc., while at the same time continuing to "do their work", at times even on vacation.

  • So, which part of their "work" should/ could fall under "legally working" v/s "illegally working"? Typically, when an nation gives a Work/ Business Permit, it entails to the individual or entities "legal eligibility / privilege" to earn money; i.e. salary or revenue from "legal entity" IN that Nation or some kind of financial/ legal activity that comes under its jurisdiction/ purview

So, if I operate out of Nation A, my client is in Nation B, and I am passing through Nation C for a week long conference while continuing to work on proposals and projects for my client, am I violating "legal work privileges" of Nation C? If, that would be the case, there are tons of people who are currently working illegally.

Would it even be possible for me to ask Nation C for a "work permit"? They would pretty much say, that does not fall under their purview.

Even if they wanted to the Nation cannot offer any "work permit/ privilege" for the person/ entities work in the said Nation, as that work is out of their financial/ legal jurisdiction.

I believe, Work/ business when outlined in any nation is related to work/ business that falls within the jurisdiction of their legal / financial frameworks - whether local or international.

Work vs Residence Tax?

On the other hand, residency parameters where a person is liable for taxes beyond X number of days is another legal/ financial regulation per se. But, that is related to TAXATION, not legality to do what they do.

Exception being if staying beyond a set period (e.g. 180 days in some places) makes you eligible / liable to pay taxes.. I think the OP was asking in general. For perpetual stay, the laws may be different for all nations & their treaties.. then again, hard to enforce for remote work done on a laptop.

So anyone from the US who is working on their laptop or smartphone for an entity and earning salary/ revenue from an entity that has no legal / financial relationship with the "passing through/ touring through nation" while on short or long vacation is not under any penalty. Why?

Again, as we get into international laws, multinational businesses & corporations who have legal/ financial footprints across national borders, expat assignments & intra-company transfers (employee transfer in an MNC from their department in Nation A to Nation B), this question becomes more complex, and better suited for the "Expat & Legal/ Immigration/ Taxation/ Business" areas.

End Note:

Most people end up doing their work/ personal stuff while traveling as long as no "financial/ legal premise or interchange is established" between said entities/ parties under the JURISDICTION / Legal & Financial Frameworks of the said Nation; as long as your US employment i.e. employer-employee relationship has no direct legal, financial bindings with the destination country of tourism or TRANSIT, you should not come under the said Jurisdiction.

  • Other answers said the except opposite, that you are working in the country where you are sitting on your computer and typing.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 11:25
  • Here's a more detailed reply on the subject - travel.stackexchange.com/a/45118/8494
    – Alex S
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 12:13

As somone already pointed out, there is no need to even mention that you will be working remotely for your foreign employer to US customs because in some ways it is irrelevant, on the other hand, you might find it challenging to explain how its possible for you to vacation for such a long period of time, and who vacations for such a long period anyway? That's when it might work against you.

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