I am a German citizen visiting my girlfriend in the US for 2 x 50 days a year under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). I already read that some immigration officers might make problems here due to the duration, if there are not at least 6 months between those 2 visits. But I believe 6 months should be feasible.

Now: Can I work remotely (telecommuting) for my German employer under the Visa Waiver Programme? I have an indefinite work contract with my German employer and would work via email and skype, mostly. The employer is ok with this. I have absolutely no intention to settle on US soil, my life centre is in Germany. But how to prove that?

Additionally, if I earn money in the US for more than 30 days, I need to pay US taxes, as far as I understand. That means I need to disclose that I am working to border officers, or do I not? I d be afraid I else might become a tax criminal and tax crimes are major offenses with jail time and all.

If I work for more than 30 days telecommuting, do I need to pay taxes in Germany and the US? That would be a heavy tax burden.

  • 5
    The following question is extremely related and has useful answers: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/12771/…
    – DCTLib
    Jan 9, 2016 at 15:28
  • 1
    You're unlikely to go to prison for failing to report your income, but the lenses and interest are very steep.
    – phoog
    Jan 9, 2016 at 16:12
  • Regardless of the letter of the law, I have never heard of enforcement proceedings against this sort of casual arrangement (as opposed to setting up a USA office and forgetting to tell Uncle Sam about it). As far as the tax burden, a USA resident would be able to deduct the taxes Germany imposed if the situation were reversed. I suspect it works vice versa, and there will not be double taxation. (The exception is Social Security taxes; the USA has treaties about double social insurance with some countries but even in the developed world, may are missing.) Jan 9, 2016 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


No, you most definitely cannot. The Visa Waiver Program only allows activity that are also allowed under regular visitor visas. For business visits, this means:

  • consult with business associates
  • attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
  • negotiate a contract

Employment is also explicitly forbidden and although it's first and foremost about taking up regular employment in the US, there is no reason for this rule not to cover telecommuting.

People who visit the US for one of the allowed purposes and do a bit more (like checking emails, dealing with urgent matters back home, etc.) are arguably in a bit of a grey area but telecommuting for extended periods of time is quite clearly forbidden.

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