What is the legal status of remote workers with regards to visas?

Hi all,

I have been (sort of) nomad-ing for the past 2 and a half years, spending time in Southeast Asia and mostly Thailand.

I know there has been various discussions regarding the legal nature of working on a tourist visa, but I have honestly never given this much thought as it is not something which bothered me. My attitude was that if I get deported then so what? I move to the next place.

In the past few weeks I have been speaking to one of the big multinational software companies (based in the US) about the possibility of joining them. They are seemingly happy with me working remotely as long as I get into a more favourable time zone (read: Central or South America).

This morning in talking with the recruiter the issue around the legality of working remotely while inside another country on a tourist visa came up. I had no definite answers for them other than “it is a bit of a grey area”.

The recruiter said that their legal department will need to look at it in more detail. This is obviously something which can potentially spoil a good opportunity for me.

So my question is whether anyone can provide some reference to blog posts or articles where the legal status of working remotely on a tourist visa has been discussed in more detail?

I guess a definite answer is going to be difficult as it will also differ from country to country, but anything you can help me with will be appreciated.


hey you actually answered the question I’ve been wondering about this whole past year, whether it’s worth moving to central/south America for the US time zone (in my case Panama) to make it easier for working remotely. The majority of “enlightened” employers are still based in the US after all and it seems US time zone makes life a lot easier.

It isn’t something legally they have to deal with if they contract a foreign entity, whether it be panamanian or hong kong vs contracting you directly. It’s just a bill to be paid. A Panama corporation is also a “pass through” corporation in the eyes of the IRS, so effectively no different to a US C-Corp for taxation purposes (no double taxation). It is more complicated for them if you aren’t a US citizen, have to deal with 1099’s etc.