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Remote Work: How to Work for a US Company Abroad

The traditional boundaries of the workplace have blurred, allowing individuals to work remotely for companies based in the US abroad.

Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 21, 20244 minutes
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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Remote work offers a flexible arrangement for those who want to pursue their careers while enjoying freedom and autonomy. Whether you’re a US citizen living in another country or a non-US citizen hoping to gain employment in the US, you should understand how to legally work for a US based company before applying. 

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Is it possible to work for a US based company while living abroad? 

Yes, it is entirely possible to work for a US based company while living abroad either as a digital nomad or as a non-citizen. With advancements in technology and communication tools, remote work has become  increasingly common and feasible across international borders. 

It's important for those considering this option to be mindful of potential challenges such as time zone differences, legal and tax implications, and cultural adjustments.

Steps for working remotely for a US company

Before sending out those applications, here are some steps to follow when working remotely for a US company. 

1. Assess Feasibility

Determine if remote work is feasible based on your role, company policies, and legal restrictions in both your current country of residence and the United States. Ensure you have the necessary legal permissions, such as a valid work visa or remote eligibility. 

2. Understand classification

Independent contractors have autonomy over their work and therefore are more freely able to work from where they want. If you’re working as an employee, you’ll need to ask permission from your employer if you can work remotely from a different location or abroad. In both cases, you'll usually require a work permit if you're not a citizen of that country.

Always be on the lookout for your employer misclassifying you and treating you like an employee, as up to 30% of US companies have misclassified at least one worker before. 

3. Discuss what it means to be a remote worker

Initiating a conversation with your current or prospective boss about remote work is crucial when considering working abroad. Start by expressing your interest in exploring remote work opportunities and highlighting potential benefits for both you and the company, such as increased productivity and flexibility. Clearly outline your proposed remote work arrangement, including work hours, communication channels, and how you plan to ensure accountability and collaboration. 

Most importantly, many foreign countries forbid travelers from working on a tourist visa, and you’ll need to get a right-to-work permit (for contractors) or a right-to-work permit if you’re the hiring company (for employees). 

Compliance obligations

Now that you understand how to initiate working remotely for a US based company abroad, we’ll explore important compliance obligations that all remote workers should understand. 

Taxes and statutory benefits

Navigating payroll taxes and statutory benefits while working remotely for a US based company from abroad requires understanding the tax implications in both your country of residence and the United States. You may need to file taxes in both jurisdictions or claim tax credits to avoid double taxation. 

As an employee, you’ll need to fill out a W-8BEN form. If you’re an independent contractor, you’ll fill out a W-8BEN-E.  Both of these documents help the hiring company prove that you aren’t eligible for US taxes. Employers are usually still required to deduct taxes in the social security system where you’re a resident. 

Work visas and right-to-work entitlements

Research the visa requirements of both your country of residence and the United States to determine if your current visa allows for remote work or if you need to obtain a specific work visa. Most countries allow you to work on a traveler visa for up to 6 months, after that period you’ll likely need to apply for a residence permit. 

If you are a citizen anywhere in the EU and you travel to another EU country, you may be eligible for a right-to-work permit. Keep in mind that visa regulations can vary significantly between countries, and working remotely for a US based company may have implications for your visa status. Additionally, verify your right-to-work entitlements in your host country, as some visas may restrict or prohibit employment. 

Right now, 49 countries offer remote work visas, so if you plan to move around a lot while working abroad, it’s best to visit and work in one of those countries. 

Understand permanent establishment risks

Remote workers should always try to avoid permanent establishment classifications in order to keep their work visas. 

It’s illegal for remote workers (contractors and employees) to engage in certain economic activities: 

  • Outsourcing local work

  • Working for local subsidiaries or employers

  • Selling goods or services locally 

If you get caught outsourcing labor or engaging in any of these activities, local authorities have the right to revoke your work visas and charge you with immigration fraud. 

Tips for working remotely 

  1. Set up a functional workspace: Designate a quiet and ergonomic workspace in your home where you can focus and minimize distractions. Equip it with necessary tools such as a reliable computer, internet, headset, webcam, and any specialized software required for your job.

  2. Establish clear communication channels: Clarify expectations with your manager regarding communication channels, work hours, availability, and preferred methods of contact. Ensure you understand how to reach out to colleagues, attend virtual meetings, and stay connected with the team.

  3. Manage time zones: If you're working in a different time zone than your team, be mindful of scheduling meetings and respecting others' working hours. Utilize scheduling tools to find mutually convenient meeting times and accommodate time zone differences.

  4. Cultivate work-life balance: Maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life by setting boundaries, taking regular breaks, and prioritizing self-care. Create a distinction between work time and personal time to prevent burnout and maintain overall well-being.

Agree on a payment method

Usually, employees are paid through a bank transfer whether they’re working remotely or not, but independent contractors have a few options for payments: 

  1. Direct bank transfer: Clients can transfer payments directly to the contractor's bank account. This is a common method that offers convenience and security, although it may incur bank fees or international transfer charges, depending on the contractor's location and currency.

  2. Payment platforms: Online payment platforms such as PayPal, Payoneer, and Stripe facilitate secure and convenient payments between clients and contractors. These platforms often support multiple currencies and offer features such as invoicing, automatic transfers, and payment tracking.

  3. Justworks International Contractor Payment: If you’re a PEO or global EOR customer with Justworks, you can quickly make payments to international contractors without hidden fees. 

How Justworks solves compliance

If you’re an employer or employee working remotely for a US based company, understanding compliance requirements can be daunting. With Justworks, we have solutions that always put compliance first.

Justworks has direct entities in 11 countries, with the ability to hire in 100+ additional countries upon request through our trusted local partners. You can fearlessly handle HR essentials like payroll, benefits, local compliance, and more. From access to top talent pools around the world to streamlined payroll processing, the advantages of working with Justworks are undeniable. Get started today!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 21, 20244 minutes

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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