Schengen tourist visa - legal to work for home companies?

yep. i just had 10 days free between house sits and I’d have liked to have hopped a flight somewhere warmer and cheaper, but I was worried that they wouldn’t let me back in so I was stuck here.

If you are worried about the border guards, simply don’t talk to them. There are many EU countries where US, Canadian and Australians can enter using the EU citizens automated machines. Finland is an example.

Also, for those worried about the UK border, simply register here and you can use the EU citizens machines (completely avoiding the human border guards).

As for the legality of working in the EU under a tourist visa, this depends on the country you are in. Some allow tourists to work with very few restrictions (even local jobs) while others do not even allow regular business trips without documentation. The risk of getting caught is pretty much nil though so I wouldn’t worry about it.

They have a “self employed” residency visa in Spain as well as a non-lucrative visa. On the latter, you would need to show income of €2500 a month or savings of at least €25000 I believe.

Once you have a legal visa from one schengen country you can travel to the others legally.

If you’re hop hop hopping, you could try to hop “out” of schengen for 3 months out of any 6 that you’re there for. Plenty of non-schengen neighbors to visit as well. This would be a tourist visa.

FWIW, I disagree with wanderingdev. If I legitimately travel to anywhere in the world for a week, a month, or up to 90 days, I can keep my job back in the states and work remotely. There’s no way to monitor that and the “no work” aspect of tourist visas is clearly about not being able to work in the country you’re visiting, for a company there.

UK is not in the Schengen (even though they’re not in the EU).

Thanks, I was wondering if it’d be so difficult going to the UK if you are from another Commonwealth country.

I’m in school and have an opportunity to do a 2-month (unpaid) internship in Spain. Do I need to get a work (or study) VISA or should I just go as a tourist and leave the Schengen zone before the 90-day cutoff? I would like to travel in Europe past the 90-day limit, but could go to Asia and come back 3 months later. Any advice on what kind of VISA I need, especially since my itinerary for other European countries is not set right now?

depends on whether you want to be legal or not. you don’t have to go all the way to asia, you just need to leave schengen.

I would ask your potential internship sponsor what kind of visa you need – some countries don’t allow volunteers under a tourist visa but I think Spain does – but you still might qualify for a special student visa that gives you extra time. Otherwise, do leave the Schengen zone before the end of 90 days – it’s too risky to over-stay, but yes, there are still countries in Europe who are not part of Schengen.

I’ve always thought that if you’re working online on your computer that you can pretty much work from anywhere. I thought that work visas only applied to physical work in the country, getting a job somewhere whether it’s a restaurant, yoga studio or multinational corporation. Every time I enter a country like Canada or somewhere in the EU, if they ask me what I do for work I just tell them I work online. No one has ever asked for a work permit for that in over 10 years.

@whereskristin Although I think you are spot on in terms of the interpretation of the law in most countries, oftentimes at border control, it is the individual immigration officer who gets to make the call.

In this case, saying that you work online might lead to a followup question like “Are you planning to work online while in X country?”. To which I would not like to lie in most circumstances… at the same time I also don’t want to be at the mercy of the immigration officer who might interpret this in whatever way he likes.

I prefer to avoid this line of questioning so to a question like “What do you do for a living?” I would reply with “I run X type of business”. It could be solely an online business but I don’t need to say that and usually this is satisfying enough for most people.

The bottom line is that entry to a country is completely at the discretion of that border agent. No one, even immigration attorneys, can tell you what to say with complete certainty. I don’t think that lying could ever be good advice in these situations (or in life in general). It would be pretty rare and bad luck for someone to be turned away from the border as a tourist just because they have the capability to work on their laptop. Maybe there is some risk but I think it’s better to be straight forward. Many times you won’t even be asked anything and they just stamp your passport.

except in the UK. do not ever tell them you’re doing any form of work or you’ll likely be denied.

That’s true; they are super strict there and I know people who’ve been deported for saying they’re going there (specifically) for some kind of work. I’m always going just to visit friends and family or for touristic reasons so I say that, but if they ask what I do for work I still say I work online, or I’m a consultant, or I own my own business, etc.

I’ve definitely been hassled at UK border control. The first time I was entering with a group of remote workers, and they guy in front of me said that we were “working while traveling the world”. They pulled the whole group aside and questioned us for a long time. Then next time I entered the UK a few weeks later, I wasn’t expecting any hard questions, and thought I would just say I was “traveling for pleasure” like I always say in other countries. The immigration officer asked me what I do for income, and I said “I’m a programmer” she asked me point blank if I was planning to do work while in the UK. It was a little bit tricky to dodge that one and not make her suspicious that I was violating the terms of a tourist visa. I almost thought she wasn’t going to let me in. From now on, I think I’ll say “I work for a company in California as a programmer”. That should avoid immigration officials misinterpreting my situation or thinking that I’m seeking illegal work in the country.