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What counts as "working" in the US?

What counts as "working" in the US?

Old May 1st 2017, 10:07 am
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Default What counts as "working" in the US?

Hi,

Brand new here and brand new to the whole issue of US immigration. I've read various "stickys" but I don't see anything that looks like it would answer this.

My job is almost exclusively online and my employer is considering paying me on a contract basis, rather than as an employee, if I emigrate to the US, on the basis that I can actually do my job from anywhere in the world with decent internet.

So, if I was on a six-month tourist visa (to begin with) working exclusively online, for a British employer who has no US involvement, getting paid in sterling, into a British bank account....would I be doing anything illegal?

The plan is to become engaged and marry the woman I love who is already a natural born US citizen. Does that change anything?

Thank you.
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Old May 1st 2017, 11:02 am
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

Why complicate it? You have a path to residency here that is pretty much guaranteed (there are no limits on the number of immigrant visas available to spouses of USCs) and which gives you the status of LPR when you arrive and you can work wherever you want for whomever you want. No grey areas.

Tourist visas are for visiting, not for working. FWIW you are unlikely to be granted a B-2 visa if you are eligible for the VWP. And even if you were, there is every chance that the CBP officer on arrival decides that s shorter period than 6 months is what you're getting. So I wouldn't rely on that happening.

If you are thinking of doing things this way as a sort of trial run to see how things work out, there's no visa for that, I'm afraid. Immigration is very much an "all or nothing" situation here. You are either coming to live and work with full permissions or you are "just visiting". There are no "temporary staying with the girlfriend for 6 months while I carry on working remotely to see how we work out" visas.
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Old May 1st 2017, 11:50 am
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

Hi,

Thanks for that reply. Yes I'm aware there is no "trial run" visa. My issue is more to do with being allowed to carry on a contractual relationship with my current employer. That's the part I want to see whether it works out. The girlfriend part is rock solid.

I could get work in time, but my particular field is a bit narrow and it may take some time to find employment at the same level. In the interim, would I be doing anything illegal, or jeopardising my future status, by "working" as outlined? Would the work be deemed to be in the US?
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Old May 1st 2017, 11:59 am
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

Originally Posted by paddyjoe View Post
My job is almost exclusively online and my employer is considering paying me on a contract basis...
With respect, if your job is "almost exclusively online" then you likely have no reason to actually be in the US.


... would I be doing anything illegal?
Yes. The determining factor is whether or not you are physically inside the US while you're performing the work. And, considering that this is your regular job and you're not just here for business meetings... you can't.


Does that change anything?
Yes. I suggest you don't work in the US until after you've married the girl, file paperwork, and receive permission to work in the US.

If your real question is "Can I get away with it?" well, probably! But that's not the same thing!

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Old May 1st 2017, 12:51 pm
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

Doesn't matter who pays you or in what currency. Even payment in kind ("you do this work for me and I'll provide bed and board at no cost" type of arrangements) is not permitted. Most office jobs can be done remotely. I was a home worker for many years in the U.K. and the company I work for here in the USA has home workers too (very useful when it snows heavily and the roads are closed!). It's nothing new. But the rules are based on which country your backside is parked in whilst you are using the computer for work. Not the country where you boss's backside is parked or where your bank account is.
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Old May 1st 2017, 1:16 pm
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

Thank you, that's admirably clear. My query was about the legal situation and my wish not to fall foul of it. This is all new to me and I intend to play it by the book. I'm not planning on trying to "get away with" anything.
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Old May 1st 2017, 1:19 pm
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

Originally Posted by Twinkle0927 View Post
the rules are based on which country your backside is parked in whilst you are using the computer for work. Not the country where you boss's backside is parked or where your bank account is.
Thank you - that's exactly the kind of detail I was looking for.
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Old May 1st 2017, 1:22 pm
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

1. It is illegal to misrepresent yourself as a visitor if your real intent is to marry and file AOS (which you've stated us your intent).

2. It is illegal to work while physically inside the USA without proper work authorization.

3. It's very difficult to get a B-2 visa if you are VWP eligible.

So no, your plan is not good. You have 2 choices, K-1 fiance visa or CR-1 spouse immigrant visa.

Once you are in the USA on either a K-1 or CR-1, then yes, you can carry on working for your UK employer. But not as a visitor.

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Old May 1st 2017, 8:19 pm
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

And if you do end up here for 6 months you will probably be held to ransom by the IRS!
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Old May 8th 2017, 6:16 pm
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Default Re: What counts as "working" in the US?

9 FAM 402.2-4 and -5 is a good reference.


Also INA 101(a)(15)(B)


Originally Posted by paddyjoe View Post
Hi,

Brand new here and brand new to the whole issue of US immigration. I've read various "stickys" but I don't see anything that looks like it would answer this.

My job is almost exclusively online and my employer is considering paying me on a contract basis, rather than as an employee, if I emigrate to the US, on the basis that I can actually do my job from anywhere in the world with decent internet.

So, if I was on a six-month tourist visa (to begin with) working exclusively online, for a British employer who has no US involvement, getting paid in sterling, into a British bank account....would I be doing anything illegal?

The plan is to become engaged and marry the woman I love who is already a natural born US citizen. Does that change anything?

Thank you.
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