I'm currently a contractor for a company in the US and I work remotely from Europe. This company is sponsoring me for H-1B.

This year I would like to travel very often to the US under WT status to see my girlfriend. I won't work while in the US, but I'll be using my Paid Time Off. It is my understanding that under WT status I cannot receive any money from a US company while I'm in the US, even if I'm not working.

If I get past the lottery, when my H-1B petition is processed or during the interview, is it possible that the officer could notice that I received money while I was in the US? In other words, what kind of investigation do they perform while checking my petition?

Now suppose that I want to spend February in the US and I'll be back in March. Something that I could do is to ask my company to hold the payments for February and then give me a double wage in March.

According to my understanding, this would be legally permitted, because I would receive money only while in Europe, but one might say that this is like cheating. Is it possible that an officer could interpret this as a cheat?

  • Is the key issue being paid, or doing work for a US company? – Patricia Shanahan Feb 3 '17 at 3:35
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    @PatriciaShanahan: I'd say the problem is both: as I understand it, by the time I receive money while I'm in the US it's like if I were working in the US. While travelling I plan to use my PTO days, but even then, how do I prove that I'm on PTO? – prosc Feb 3 '17 at 10:01
  • Does the company pay you personally, directly, or have you set up a company of your own? – phoog Feb 9 '17 at 15:20

If you are getting paid by a US company, chances are that company has a record of you receiving payment and will report that to IRS.

Generally, USCIS does not access IRS records, but they might issue an RFE (Request for Evidence) to provide tax records if anything does come up.

If you are not authorized to work in the US, do not work in the US until you receive proper authorization.

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    I don't want to work while in the US. My concern is that if someone were seeing my bank transaction, they might think that I was working, even if I was actually on paid time off – prosc Feb 3 '17 at 10:03
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    I don't think I believe this is a problem. For a nonresident alien being paid directly the company would be submitting withholding tax to the IRS, which in turn might be reporting that income to his home tax authority (if there's a treaty). The alien would have no obligation to file a US tax return, and if he did file one it would be a nonresident return. The tax records would hence be evidence that he was not working in the US, if anything, and the fact that he's being paid by a US company for his work overseas doesn't prevent him from entering the US for pleasure or for B-1 activities. – Dennis Feb 3 '17 at 12:00

If you don't have other status (J-1, L, OPT etc) then you cannot work in the US, period. I would not attempt to do to - if USCIS/CBP/ICE/etc discover that you have been, the penalties are severe (I believe up to a lifetime ban, although I have no source for this). Regardless, it is not worth the risk, especially with the current environment regarding immigration. This includes volunteering for a position that others would be paid to do.

When you go through the border, the officer has authority to search you and all your possessions, this includes your laptop. You can be compelled to provide your password. They can do that, and find your pay stubs. I don't think they have access to tax records, but you never know.

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