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Hi All,

I am a UK citizen whose girlfriend is a US citizen (I met her on a trip out to the States last year, and have visited on a few occasions since for a week or two at a time).

Here in the UK, I work remotely over the Internet from home for a UK company.

I am keen to visit the US for longer periods of time, but am confused by the definition of "business" in the Visa Waiver Form, as it does not seem to cover remote work - I have no intention of gaining employment with a US company during my stay, so the other visas do not apply.

I recently contacted the US Embassy in London who told me that the remote work is not covered by the Visa Waiver, nor any other visa program, and that I cannot do remote work of any kind.

Going by evidence on the net, lots of businessmen and remote workers work from their laptops while in the US on the Visa Waiver, despite it being technically illegal. After all, how would anyone know that they are checking e-mail or compiling reports, etc.?

I can honestly tell US customs that the primary purpose of my visit is for pleasure/seeing my girlfriend, but they are bound to get suspicious if they ask if I am employed full time (and I say yes), but am able to take long holidays to the US for social visits.

Again, I am on a UK payroll paying UK taxes, and not at all looking for work with a US employer - I would just like to work remotely while visiting. Can anyone advise? Feels like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place :(

Thank you in advance.
 

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The visa waiver rules are that you can't work remotely.... you can't do any kind of work, remote or otherwise.
Yes you're stuck between a rock and a hard place....but hopefully you're not expecting anyone on this forum to tell you it's ok to work illegally.
 

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The visa waiver rules are that you can't work remotely.... you can't do any kind of work, remote or otherwise.
Yes you're stuck between a rock and a hard place....but hopefully you're not expecting anyone on this forum to tell you it's ok to work illegally.
Thank you for your reply, mamasue. The UK company I work for has a parent company in the US, so I'll probably try to see if something can be arranged through them. Do you think this would be an option?
 

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Thank you for your reply, mamasue. The UK company I work for has a parent company in the US, so I'll probably try to see if something can be arranged through them. Do you think this would be an option?
About the only thing you could arrange through the US parent would be a transfer (i.e. with a long-stay type visa) to live and work in the US officially. Given the costs involved, don't be surprised if the US parent company isn't wildly enthusiastic about the idea.

Practically speaking, if you're doing a bit of remote work in the US while visiting your girlfriend, no one is going to bother with apprehending and prosecuting you. But if you're in the US on a regular basis and basically continuing to keep up with your job full time, it will start to appear on the radar and may well run you into trouble. (As you said, suspicion at the notion that you are employed full time yet spend far more than the usual vacation allowance visiting the gf.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I don't understand the confusion. U work "remotely" for a UK based company & not "virtually" for a US company correct? How is it an issue??
You are legal to visit your girlfriend on a "visa waiver" as you please as you are not evading any US immigration law.
 

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I don't understand the confusion. U work "remotely" for a UK based company & not "virtually" for a US company correct? How is it an issue??
You are legal to visit your girlfriend on a "visa waiver" as you please as you are not evading any US immigration law.
If only it were so simple!

OP has no right to visit his girlfriend whatsoever.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't understand the confusion. U work "remotely" for a UK based company & not "virtually" for a US company correct? How is it an issue??
You are legal to visit your girlfriend on a "visa waiver" as you please as you are not evading any US immigration law.
As far as I understand, according to the visa waiver, you cannot do any form of work in the US, whether on a UK or US payroll. Visiting for pleasure alone on the visa waiver is fine, but I'd be breaking immigration law if I did work of any kind. The 'business' part of the visa waiver restrictions does not cover remote work.
 

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As far as I understand, according to the visa waiver, you cannot do any form of work in the US, whether on a UK or US payroll. Visiting for pleasure alone on the visa waiver is fine, but I'd be breaking immigration law if I did work of any kind. The 'business' part of the visa waiver restrictions does not cover remote work.
That's your interpretation of the regulations, but it may not match with that of the guys on the border patrol who do have the authority to admit you to the US on arrival or not.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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That's your interpretation of the regulations, but it may not match with that of the guys on the border patrol who do have the authority to admit you to the US on arrival or not.
Cheers,
Bev
I don't think I'd like to take the risk after a flight all the way there :p The US Embassy in London also said remote work was a no-no too, and I'm guessing their answer is pretty much authoratitive on the matter?
 

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I don't think I'd like to take the risk after a flight all the way there :p The US Embassy in London also said remote work was a no-no too, and I'm guessing their answer is pretty much authoratitive on the matter?
The authority is IO and ICE. London is populated by bean counters.
 

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Look,

Lets be honest, I own the company where I work and my wife and I are partners in 2 other companies, one that she runs and one that we do together. 90% of the work we do is on the internet, so we can say I work from anywhere in the world.

I was in Europe for the purpose to shoot some hotels, 33 hotels to be exact and write about them for various sources who pay my company for this, I entered through Frankfurt and visited 13 countries with full backpacks of camera equipment and computer to send work as it was done. Legally speaking my wife and I couldn't work in the UK but we did, we worked at least 4 hours a day. No money changed hands there and thus we were not "gainfully employed" in the UK, I can give you the same example for the other 12 countries, we were there for 3 months, I took my mother in law to know my family in Germany and all but the trip was indeed Pleasure / Business.

Who in gods name is gonna find out if you don't tell them. How would they PROVE you are working?

I ran into an issue in Canada my second visit in 2 months, they marked me and checked my luggage and all that thinking I was visiting someone and bringing gifts but the fact is I went to Canada and 3 days into my trip my father died and I had to head to the US. I came back to Mexico for 10 days as there were some issues with the business in Cancun and then headed back to Montreal.

The Guy saw the stamp on my Passport from 2 weeks earlier and just asked if I was there on pleasure or business, I said pleasure, he marked my little card and I went for my luggage. A group of Police stopped me and asked to see my bag and asked the purpose of my visit, I told them pleasure and of course they wanted to know if I knew someone in Canada and if I was briinging gifts. I told them no and I went on my way but as I was abouit to surrender my visa thing at the exit I was told I had to enter the side room for full revision.

There another armed officer asked me to open all my stuff and place it on the tables, I did and she asked the same questions and I gave the same answers. I told her I was meeting my sister in Toronto and we were going to continue the vacation that we had to end because our father died and she just sort of closed all my stuff and thanked me.

I have no doubt the two entries into Canada in short period is what raised a flag.
 
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