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Working from home while in the U.S.

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 7 QuestionsAnswers

    Can I legally work remotely for an Irish company while visiting the U.S. as a tourist? Or do I need to stop working, take holidays and visit on a sightseeing holiday only (ie: no working)? I've seen conflicting guidance online. Some sources say no, while others say yes.


  • Short answer, no

    Long answer, no for a few reasons, which it sounds like you have already found but the main one being tax. Not necessarily yours, but your employers.

  • Why not? If you are working and paying tax in Ireland, take a holiday that requires work as part of that holiday it’s not an issue.

    if you live in the states and work for an Irish company then that’s a different matter. As long as you do not overstay your esta, it’s all good.

    thousands of business people do this daily.

  • No thousands of business people to do not work remotely daily. They conducted business in the US in accordance with immigration law. You don’t even have the right to work remotely from an other EU state if you are the principal resident, never mind the US.

  • Can you work full time wfh in your normal job but from the States? No for lots of reasons all of which I'm sure I don't even know but tax being one.

    Can you work for say 2 weeks of a 4 week stay in the US? Probably not technically but if you had an understanding boss/company I'd say yes.

    My Mrs is in Australia for 6 weeks,she only had 2 weeks leave.They let her work first 2 weeks from hotel quarantine, take 2 weeks holiday and wfh (from Oz) for the final 2 weeks.Large American multinational.

  • So far as US immigration law is concerned, there's a B2 visa which is readily available and which allows you to enter the US and conduct business there. The kind of business they have in mind is attending conferences or conventions, taking part in sales meetings, meeting potential customers, that kind of thing, but I'm pretty sure it would also cover attending to your routine work for your overseas employer, unrelated to your presence in the US but while you happen to be present in the US.

    And, if you qualify under the ESTA visa waiver scheme, then you don't need to get this visa; you can enter the US and do the kind of business activities there that you could do if you had a B2 visa.

    Where things might get a bit hairy is if you happen to work for an overseas branch or subsidiary of a US business so that, while present in the US, you would be doing work ultimately on behalf of a US company. I don't think the B2 visa would cover that.

    Tax is a separate issue; you would need to not be long enough in the US for there to be any question of becoming liable to tax in the US for your earnings from your overseas job. But that wouldn't be an issue for a two- or three-week holiday. If you stay long enough to acquire any kind of resident status in the US then both you and your employer have a problem. But if you're talking about a two- or three-week holiday, I can't see that this would be an issue.

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  • Yes you should be fine. I know lots of people who are sent by Irish companies and have to log in while they are there. Gathering requirements from clients and so on. They did some sight seeing when they were there. I don't really see how your situation would appear any different to anyone over there.

    But if you haven't been actually sent by your Irish company, make sure they don't check IP addresses of employees logging in. My wife's Irish company said she can work from anywhere in the EU but someone got caught logging in from a Dubai airport once even though they were just logging in quickly to forward a document to a colleague.

  • The first 4 words of the OP are pretty clear in what they are asking. 'Can I legally work'.

    This is why their situation is different from others such as having people gather requirements from clients and so on. In those cases, when filling out your ETSA or other travel papers you will have to state the purpose of your trip and while it is easy to tick tourism and then log on and work remotely, it 'legally' would be an issue I think.

    There are a few reasons why the authorities would have an issue with this. One, you've clearly lied on a legal document and turning any sort of a blind eye to that sets a bad precedence. Two, you are technically earning while in the US and they are not getting the benefit of any tax from you for you doing so. Three, it would encourage many more to do the same whereby they come on 3 month holidays and use the services within the US, road, policing etc without paying towards them. Four, if a foreigner can come to the US and do work for a company remotely, the US would sooner prefer that that company hires an american to do that job remotely for income tax reasons above but also for their own jobs figures as well as some other reasons. Five, the risk of you not having appropriate health insurance would flag you as a potential burden on the US healthcare system were you to be in a serious accident that required ambulance or helicopter transport for example (it is possible to have your Irish health insurance provide cover when abroad but they too will have caveats such as it being a designated short term trip or that you have specifically purchased a backpacker plan or something but its definitely something you'd want to have checked out in fair detail beforehand).

    All of these are more relevant the longer you are in the US. If you are talking about just working a week or 2 or a timeframe that would be similar in length to a typical holiday, I don't think they'd make a big deal of it. But if you were looking at doing a few months at a time with a week outside the country to reset your holiday stopwatch, I think they'd try to call a halt to that as soon as they noticed it.

  • Thanks for all of the replies! The varying responses are similar for the varied results of my research. That is for say, I'm still not clear if, by US laws and tourist rules, I can work remotely for the Irish company while over there? I'm not concerned about the Irish company side of things but I am concerned that I follow the US laws and do it right. So, am I correct in thinking that legally and technically, I should do sightseeing only while there for a month and that it would be illegal to work remotely while being a tourist there?

  • A couple of things on this.

    Technically if the op is going to work remotely from the US during their holiday they are committing visa fraud because the visa waiver (some people incorrectly call it ESTA) that they entered the us on does not allow anyone to do any work of any sort while in the US on the visa waiver.

    Now the reality is that once you are in the US the immigration authority are not going to be hunting for people like yourself making sure you are not working, so you are fine in that regard.

    When you are going through immigration into the US (whether it be in Ireland or the US) under no circumstances should you mention work in any way shape or form, you are the there for a holiday and noting else.

    If you have a laptop in your carry on bring it in a bag that does not look like a laptop bag because you don't want to be explaining to immigration why you need a laptop on your holiday, and if they do see that you have a laptop have a very good reason for bringing it. Then again they may see it and not even care.

    The other factor is your own company. Working from home in Ireland is all well and good but working remotely from a different country may not be.

    Are you going to tell the company your plan ?

    For example there may be rules on the remote access systems that prevent logins to the system from IP addresses in countries outside Ireland/EU.

    These would be put in place for IT security reasons primarily rather than to stop people doing what you are doing. So as soon as you try to login from the US you may not be able to, then you would have some explaining to do if you have not already talked to the company about your plan.

    There was another poster here back in the early summer who was planning on doing the same thing, the thread should be easy enough to find, reach out to them and see if they went ahead with their plan and how it worked out.

    And if you do try this please keep us in the loop, I'd be curious to know who you get on.

  • Can you legally work? No, but who's going to know?

    If you're sitting in your hotel or a Starbucks on meetings or working on your laptop, who's to know you're an Irish citizen working on a tourist visa? Who even cares?

    Pure nonsense. Work away, enjoy your holiday.

    Get an ESTA if you want to be legit. 15 dollars

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  • Get an ESTA if you want to be legit. 15 dollars

    Can people do a bit of research on ESTA before posting things like this.

    The ESTA does not make anything "legit".

    The ESTA is a pre screening process that is a requirement for anyone traveling to the US on the "visa wavier" program.

    The "visa waiver" program is a a program that allows people from certain countries , such as Ireland, to enter the US for 90 days for the purpose of a holiday or other personal reasons without the requirement of getting a visa first.

    Entering the US on the "visa waiver" and not working there or not staying longer than 90 days is in itself "legit".

  • Regardless, I think it's a moot point. I'm not getting bogged down in technicalities.

    Laws are only applicable when they're enforced. AFAIK, no one in immigration is going to check whether you turn on your laptop or not. I've travelled a dozen times to the US with an ESTA. Immigration let me through every time.

    No one will bust down your door and deport you

  • Since it's legally not allowed, from what I'm reading here, I'll go on holidays only and won't work. Just wanted to see if it was possible to work remotely for an Irish employer, before I go ahead and just take holiday days. But it looks like I should indeed take holiday days. Thanks for confirming!

  • Well as myself an other posters have said no one from US immigration is going to be breaking down the door of your hotel room, airb&b etc to check if you are logged in and working.

    And getting through immigration using the "visa waiver" (the most common way Irish people go to the US on holidays) is a doddle so why don't you try it ?

    Do you think your company would be open to the idea ?

    They may not give a hoot either way.

  • Thanks :)

  • Does anyone know where I can find definitive info on the level in place re travelling to the US during covid? I want to make sure I'm covered by health insurance! I can see that the US say Do Not Travel for Ireland, but I can't see what the level or warning is for Irish people who want to go on holidays to the US?

  • Depends where you're going.

    COVID rules vary from rigorously enforced to non-existent depending on the state.

  • Ring your insurance company and ask them what your coverage is and so on.

    Health insurance while abroad can operate on a 'get you back to Ireland' principle which might not be the case with respect to Covid, for obvious reasons, bit still worth knowing their position definitively.

  • Also, who knows if they cover accommodation cost if you need to quarantine for 2 weeks in the US?

    There's no requirement to get tested on the way home, but personally I would, just in case.

  • "Technically if the op is going to work remotely from the US during their holiday they are committing visa fraud because the visa waiver (some people incorrectly call it ESTA) that they entered the us on does not allow anyone to do any work of any sort while in the US on the visa waiver."

    This is not correct. The visa wavier programme extends to people who would otherwise need a B2 (Business) visa. Thus you can participate in the visa waiver programme and still do the kind of business activities that would otherwise require a B2 visa.

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  • I doubt that any travel insurance policy you take out now will cover you for Covid - there'll be an exclusion built in for that.

  • How technically would work be definned, for instance if you logged on to your stockbroker account on your phone and bought or sold 1000 shares in Gamestop while on US soil would that be defined as working?

  • Only if you carry on the trade or profession of stockbroking. Assuming you're a retail investor, in that transaction your stockbroker is working but you are not.