I've been hired for a startup in the US. It is planned that I visit locally for 2 weeks for an oboarding session and to get to know the colleagues. Additionally, they would also pay for this trip. However the legality of this is still making me scratch my head, even after an immigration attorney said that ESTA and B-1 would pose no issue.

I would assume one can file "onboarding" under the "training" guise, under which it would be okay, given I can explain that I will not be able to do any actual "work". However since the US company is my sole employer, they're also the one paying me. I've read in a few places that this is an issue if the source of income is from a US company. While my income will come from an international payroll provider acting as a proxy and thus under "German" rule with euro payment, I wouldn't assume this is considered as a loophole?

Should I raise a comment about this just to be sure, or am I in the clear?

  • 1
    Are you planning to relocate to the US or work remotely?
    – Hilmar
    May 7, 2022 at 13:04
  • With whom is your contract of employment? That is, with what legal entity? Is the payroll provider paying you from their own account or from funds they hold on behalf of the US company? The question of whether this constitutes US-source income may not be immediately obvious without researching relevant precedents, and even then it might be "unsettled law." Certainly in the absence of that factor, it seems okay since it sounds like meetings and, as you note, training.
    – phoog
    May 7, 2022 at 13:28
  • 1
    A B-1 visa would have two advantages: 1, the visa officer will express an opinion on the legality of the trip, and 2, if you are denied entry, you'll be able to appeal. However, on the first point, if the visa officer decides that the plan is not allowed under B-1, you'll have a visa denial on your record, albeit for a relatively benign reason. On the second point, you may not want to go through the appeal process, which involves going to immigration court. I would ask the immigration attorney to describe what would happen if the immigration officer at the border decides to refuse admission.
    – phoog
    May 7, 2022 at 13:36
  • 1
    Also, it's clear that if you worked for (e.g.) a German subsidiary of Microsoft, that is not US-source income. The payroll processor arrangement, however, sounds different, for example if they act simply as an agent for the US company.
    – phoog
    May 7, 2022 at 13:41
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? UK citizen, US company, living in UK: Can I use an ESTA?
    – Doc
    May 7, 2022 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


This is almost certainly fine, especially if you have been told it is fine by a qualified immigration attorney. You are visiting the US for training and business meetings, which are permitted under the Visa Waiver Program, and will continue to be paid by your German employer, not by the US company which is your German employer's client.

I've worked for US companies with similar arrangements to hire people who live in various countries, including Germany, and it's never been a problem when they've come to visit us for a couple of weeks.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .