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My spouse just started working at a big international company based in the USA. They have organised a G4 spousal visa for me. My understanding is that this does not allow me to hold a paying job in the USA.

I'm leaving my home and job, in Belgium, to come to the USA and still have many work connections in the EU. They have asked me to do some consulting work for them while I find my feet and eventually get a work permit to get a US based job.

Does consulting for an non-US company, while I'm physically in the US, count as work? Does it break the conditions of the spouse visa? If all work goes through my company (based in the EU) and I "volunteer" to the company does this count?

I'm more concerned about the boredom I'll face and the high cost of living in the USA. If I could earn a few bucks and help out with costs it would be great.

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    G4 dependents can apply for an EAD, which if the Department of State approves, would allow them to work in the US.
    – user102008
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 3:14

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Not only can't you do consulting work for your foreign connections while you're in the US before you've obtained your employment authorization document (EAD), you can't obtain an EAD to set yourself up as a sole proprietor consultant. The process of getting an EAD is first to obtain an offer of employment in the US and then to apply for the EAD.

The office processing your application depends on which international organization your wife works for. It will be either the Office of Foreign Missions (which says that applications normally require 6 to 10 weeks but in August 2021 was saying that they took up to 16 weeks) or the US Mission to the UN (which doesn't say how long they take).

OFM links:

US mission link:

I'm having a hard time finding the actual conditions of the G4 visa

The terms of your status under the G-4 visa depend on the agreement between the US and your spouse's organization. For example, if she is employed by the UN, they depend on the UN headquarters agreement. These agreements are broadly similar, of course, but the fact that the status is not governed by a single legal instrument is part of the reason for your difficulty.

What is defined as work WRT G-4 spousal visa?

The problem here is really that the US avoids making clear statements answering that question with respect to nonimmigrants in general. The same question is frequently a problem for tourists, business visitors, students, and so on. There are some questions that have been answered clearly. For example, "volunteering" to do a job in the US that is normally paid is not allowed because it still deprives a person who is authorized to work in the US of employment (and it could be a cover for labor abuse). This objection doesn't apply to doing remote work for a foreign employer, of course, and such work is generally allowed in some jurisdictions, including Canada. US law, however, like that of most jurisdictions, hasn't accepted this way of thinking, and the US government hasn't shown any signs of wanting to.

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  • That's a little disappointing. Thanks though. I'll chat to the Spouse's Org to see what exactly all the details are.
    – RedM
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 14:13
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Does consulting for an non-US company, while I'm physically in the US, count as work?

Yes.

Does it break the conditions of the spouse visa?

Yes.

If all work goes through my company (based in the EU) and I "volunteer" to the company does this count?

Doesn't matter.

Source: Department of State G visas page, FAM.

Ability to get EAD approved depends on who the actual employer is, see here. The fact that the EAD is discussed as an option goes to show that without it work is not allowed.

As mentioned in the comments, in the US, for immigration purposes, only what's explicitly allowed is allowed, everything else is forbidden.

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    Any sources for those claims? I'm having a hard time finding the actual conditions of the G4 visa
    – RedM
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 7:47
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    @RedM despite the lack of sources, this answer is correct. Another thing to consider is that any income you derive from consulting work that you perform in the US is subject to taxation under the internal revenue code (and the tax code of your state of residence). As a G-4 family member, you are taxed as a nonresident alien (whether or not you had an EAD authorizing you to perform the work).
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 10:01
  • @RedM you're confused. You should be looking for sources for what's allowed. Anything that's not explicitly allowed - is not allowed.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 16:10

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