Hello! My name is Ben Frear, and I’m an immigration lawyer for entrepreneurs. Today, I want to discuss an issue that recently created a problem for one of my clients. I’m sharing this so that you can avoid similar issues in the future. We’re talking about working remotely in the US on a B-2 visitor visa (or in B-2 status). Trust me, it’s something you want to avoid!

The Rise of Remote Work

The rise of remote work from the onset of the pandemic to the present day has been transformative, reshaping how businesses operate and how employees approach their work. Initially prompted by health and safety concerns, remote work quickly became a necessity for many industries to maintain operations amidst lockdowns and social distancing measures.

As the pandemic progressed, what began as a temporary solution evolved into a long-term strategy for many organizations. Employers and employees alike discovered the benefits of remote work, including increased flexibility, reduced commuting time and costs, and improved work-life balance.

Technological Advancements & A Shift in the Workplace

Technological advancements facilitated the transition to remote work, with video conferencing platforms, collaboration tools, and cloud-based software enabling seamless communication and productivity from any location.

The remote work trend has led to a fundamental shift in workplace culture, with remote and hybrid work models becoming more common. Many companies have adopted flexible work policies, allowing employees to choose where and when they work based on individual preferences and job requirements.

Remote Work and Immigration: The Problem

While remote work offers numerous advantages, it also creates problems in the immigration context. Many foreign nationals feel that they can visit the U.S. and work remotely for a foreign employer. There is a rumor floating around that as long as you aren’t paid by a U.S. employer, then you are good to work remotely in the U.S. in B-2 visitor status. Unfortunately, this is false.

Someone on a B-2 U.S. visitor visa generally cannot work for a foreign employer while physically present in the U.S. The B-2 status is granted for temporary visits for tourism, visiting family or friends, or medical treatment. It does not authorize employment, whether for a domestic or foreign employer.

Engaging in any form of employment, including remote work for a foreign employer, while on a B-2 visa would likely be considered unauthorized employment and could result in immigration violations. Violating the terms of a visitor visa could lead to serious consequences, including future visa denials.

A Real-Life Example: Working Remotely in the US in B2 Status

This is precisely what happened to one of my clients recently. My client, who planned to apply for the E-2 visa, had a company outside of the United States. While she was visiting, she ran her foreign company remotely from within the U.S. because she had been told by a colleague that this was perfectly fine. Unfortunately, it was not okay. When she eventually applied for the visa, she had to disclose this information, which led to a denial.

Fortunately, we were able to successfully reapply after drafting a detailed explanation of the misunderstanding and gathering a number of character references from well-respected leaders in her field.

The Takeaway

If you’re thinking about working remotely in the U.S. on a B-2 visa, my advice is simple: Don’t do it. It’s just not worth the risk. If you have any questions about whether your activities in the US will result in a violation, please consult with one of the many amazing US immigration lawyers that you can find across the globe.

Thanks for reading and best of luck as you explore your US immigration options.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with a qualified immigration attorney for advice tailored to your specific situation.

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Ben Frear, Esq.

Immigration Lawyer for Entrepreneurs

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