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My girlfriend and I are both German. I've recently been to the US for an internship (3 months). She would have liked to come with me and work remotely for her German employer, but it was our understanding that this would not be allowed. So instead, she just flew over at the end for a short joint holiday.

While in the US, I met someone who was in exactly the same situation, but their girlfriend did accompany them. And at the border, they apparently directly told the agent that he would be working for the American company, while she'd continue working remotely for her German company. They were permitted to enter the US.

Did I misunderstand the US visa requirements? Is there a visa my girlfriend would be eligible for? Or were they lucky and we should not plan on doing the same in the future?

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  • Not an answer, but I asked a very senior CBP officer (a friend of a friend) the same question a few months ago. "Can I work remotely for a foreign employer while visiting in the US on a tourist visa?" - their answer was "yes, it's not a problem, as long as not doing any physical work in the US or getting paid by US company." I asked several more questions as follow-up, such as 40+ hour weeks, staying for several weeks, etc., and again "yes, not a problem, nothing to worry about." - Now that's probably not the official position, but might be useful
    – Midavalo
    Jan 2 at 15:14
  • @Midavalo thank you, that's interesting. Of course, having something more official than that would be great.
    – Travel123
    Jan 2 at 15:47
  • What status would she be in?
    – user102008
    Jan 2 at 17:22
  • @user102008 I'm not sure what you mean - the easiest solution for her would be to apply for an ESTA. But we'd also be willing to apply for any other visa/something to make this possible. She's a German citizen with an (almost, 4 days a week) job at a German company.
    – Travel123
    Jan 2 at 22:13
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    I don't think this question should have been migrated, it's not about immigration, but someone remote working on a tourist visa (or VWP)
    – Midavalo
    Jan 3 at 2:09

1 Answer 1

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Did I misunderstand the US visa requirements?

You did not.

Is there a visa my girlfriend would be eligible for? Or were they lucky and we should not plan on doing the same in the future?

They were either very very lucky and the CBP officer didn't understand them, or they lied to you.

As to the comment left by someone saying a CBP officer told them it's not a problem, read it carefully:

"yes, it's not a problem, as long as not doing any physical work in the US or getting paid by US company."

Translation: "yes, it's not a problem, as long as you're not doing it". What does "physical work in the US" mean? Doing work, while being physically in the US.

What's not a problem is being employed by a German employer. But while on a tourist visa, she's not allowed to work.


Ignore the downvotes, there's a large amount of people on this forum who think that immigration laws are written for someone else but them. As you can see in the comments, more than one claim that violating immigration laws for your own convenience is perfectly fine because internet. But if you've heard anything about the US recently, then you must know that it's a hot topic and while large parts of the population want the immigration laws to change - quite a few of them want them way harsher than they are now.

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