An individual working outside the U.S. is not subject to U.S. immigration laws. Therefore, it is permissible for a foreign national to work for their U.S. employer while outside the country. While working for the U.S. employer an individual will not be accruing time on H-1B, as they are not physically present in the United States. Specifically, the time you spend working abroad does not count towards your six year maximum H-1B limit. One should be aware that while they may not be subject to U.S. immigration laws they are still subject to the laws of the country they are working in for tax purposes.
When making the decision to work outside the U.S. while on H-1B one should still be mindful of potential repercussions upon re-entry. For example, if one remains outside the U.S. for an extended period of time they may be questioned upon reentry as to whether or not they are still employed by their U.S. employer. If one intends to remain outside the U.S. for a month one should document their remote work as a way of confirming your H-1B sponsor still needs your services. Another issue to consider is payment. If your US payroll is still being run while outside the U.S. it could lead to USCIS alleging you were still on H-1B, even while outside the U.S. A good way to counter this issue would just be to maintain proper documentation regarding your travel abroad. However, if you plan to be outside the U.S. for a long duration, such as six months or more, one should consider having a local payroll set up to ensure no tax issues occur in the country you are working in.
In conclusion, working outside the U.S. for your H-1B sponsoring company is legal from a U.S. immigration perspective. When performing such work one should consider the amount of time they plan to spend outside the U.S. and whether or not their U.S. payroll will be run. Overall, working outside the U.S. for a short period of time, such as a few weeks to a few months, should not create any issues when attempting to re-enter. To ensure no issues arise it’s a good idea to maintain documentation of the work performed to confirm you have proof available, should questions arise regarding your employers need for your services.
For more information please see this additional article for additional information.
By: Justin Rivera
Justin is an associate attorney at Reddy and Neumann. He practices immigration law with an emphasis on H-1B visas.