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There has been an increase in employees working remotely while abroad, especially during/after COVID. Sometimes without telling their bosses. Is it legal for US employees to work (for a US company) remotely in another country for an extend period (a year or longer)? (Assume that the host country doesn't have any special laws that forbid foreigners from working remotely.)

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  • Yes. I recall hearing that in Mexico City, there are a number of residents who are complaining of Americanization of their neighborhoods because there are many Americans who are teleworking and came to Mexico City for the better weather.
    – hszmv
    Dec 21, 2022 at 19:04
  • Do you mean as a general rule? Or specific lines of work? There are certainly lines of work where you can't work in certain countries for security reasons. (Or even do work while traveling in them. I've heard of an employee who did, was warned, and fired when he ignored it.)
    – Mary
    Dec 22, 2022 at 2:17
  • @Mary Yes, as a general rule.
    – cine
    Dec 23, 2022 at 14:30
  • You should probably add that to the question
    – Mary
    Dec 23, 2022 at 15:09

2 Answers 2

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I've done it, I know a number of people who have done it. There's no general rule regarding employer-employee relations – if you have to physically clock in, then basically no, if you don't do job you can get fired and the employer might require you to be physically present in a certain location. Whether or not it is legal to "work" in another country depends on the laws of that country, but there is no recurring law to the effect that you cannot "do work" while in a foreign country without a work permit or the like. There is a general rule that you have to be permitted to reside in a country, if you intend to reside in a country, so a US citizen cannot generally pick an arbitrary country and decide that they want to live there for a couple of years, without asking permission from the host government.

There can be a complex relationship between the premise for getting a long-term visa to reside for a year in another country, and the rationale for that stay, for example a student coming to the US for the purpose of study cannot decide that instead they want to work as a car salesman. A scam whereby you claim to be a student in some local college when in fact you are working remotely for a call center would run afoul of immigration laws as well. The main consideration is whether you are present in the country under one pretense but in fact are doing something very different, which may then be illegal, but that depends on the country-particular laws.

Since you are not employed in that country, you (probably) are not subject to taxation of your regular income (i.e. if I go to Norway for a year and receive my US salary, I will not have to also pay Norwegian income tax on the US salary).

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  • This article says that anyone who resides in Korea for 6 months is deemed to be a Korean tax resident. So I would think the tax situation depends on the country.
    – cine
    Dec 22, 2022 at 6:17
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A generic answer will be impossible. Some of the possible pitfalls:

  • Bring your own device or company-owned hardware?
    The company might have something to say about taking their hardware abroad.
  • What software is used? Crypto for VPN?
    The US has regulations on the export of certain software, which could become an issue if you take the devices into certain countries.
  • What data is used from abroad?
    There may be compliance requirements to safeguard data, which might be broken by working from abroad.

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