We all know that most tourist visas have a stipulation like:
"you can't work in XXX while on a tourist visa"
"If you're entering XXX with the intent of working or doing business you need a business visa"
And I've heard a few differing opinions on what "work" actually means in this context. Usually it falls into one of two categories:
- "Any activity that you're being paid to do, regardless of where that payer is"
- "engaging in the local economy, either by getting a job, hiring local workers, meeting with clients, or potential business partners, etc."
To me the second one makes more logical sense. If you look at the fact that most of these laws have been around for a very long time, it makes more sense that they are designed to stop tourists from disturbing the local economy(other than by injecting cash). I can't imagine that stopping someone taking a phone call, or sending a telegram, or checking some work emails was the main driving force behind these clauses.
I think another way to phrase it is "would you be allowed to respond to a work email?". Because often times people who argue that definition 1 is the true definition, may say "Sure, you could probably check an email or take a phone call from your job back home, but you couldn't do [some larger task]". And to me that's really a matter of degree, rather than classification. Checking/responding to an email for a non-local job, and doing a spreadsheet are just different degrees of "work being done for a job outside of the country being visited". Whereas something like sending an email or making a phone call to a local business/person you want to engage in business with, while maybe a small task, I'd argue goes against the intent of the law, and would require a business visa.
My main question is, does anyone know of anything that goes into more detail on this topic with actual sources from legal experts, clauses in immigration laws, or specific listings of permitted/prohibited tasks?
The best I can find is from the USCIS website where it defines the reason for applying for a US B-1 Business Visa as:
Temporary business visitor to conduct activities of a commercial or professional nature. For example, consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, or attend a business conference
To me that suggests that this visa is for those seeking to do work in the local USA economy, rather than those who may want to respond to a work email, for a job in their home country. Most countries I have looked at, that give examples of the type of work for which you'd need a work visa, all list activities of engaging in the local economy. None that i've seen would prohibit something like "responding to a work email" or "accepting a job in your home country while in the country you're visiting". Even though colloquially those would be things we'd consider "work" rather than "personal/recreational" activities.