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shaile 07-26-2011 06:41 AM

Working aboard
Hi everyone,

Is it legal for a non US-citizen non green-card-holder to work aboard his non US boat as a software development contractor (i.e. submitting invoices) while anchoring in US waters/marina ?


BentSailor 07-26-2011 07:09 AM

Is he submitting invoices to US companies and/or being paid money by US clients? I'm not a lawyer, but I reckon this would be very important to the whether it is legal and/or worth pursuing.

tommays 07-26-2011 07:29 AM

While i am no lawyer i do have a house guest who just arrived on a two month visa to meet people who will sponsor a 1 year work visa and he sure cant legally work

shaile 07-26-2011 07:57 AM

I'll clarify the question:
A foreign contractor (or company), in this case software developer, may have a business relations with US companies and while working in his original country may develop software for a US company, submit invoices and get paid.
Since a foreign registered boat is not a US territory even while in US waters, the question is whether the contractor may continue working abord his non US boat while anchoring in US waters.
It is obvious that if he is leaving US territorial waters he does not break any law.

Minnewaska 07-26-2011 08:10 AM

To technically answer your question of nexus, I do believe you would technically be working in the US and both violating a visitor visa and tax laws. I assumed you would be using US waters a safe harbor to be able to work and US infrastructure to communicate over the internet.

On the other hand, unless you were obvious about it and posted it on the Internet, I'm not sure how you would get caught. :)

Ulladh 07-26-2011 08:16 AM

If the boat is in US waters it is subject to US law.

If you told the immigration agent you are a tourist and have a tourist visa then you cannot work or look for work, or interview for work.

If you told the agent you are here on business for a company located outside the US then you get a different visa.

I have relatives working for EU based companies that come to the US frequently on company business, get paid into a EU based bank, and declare purpose for the visit when entering the country.

pdqaltair 07-26-2011 10:25 AM

Ulladh's answer makes the most sense. I work for a multinational and that is how we handle this.

If you are looking for a cute loop hole, I don't think much of that. Would it go over well, situation reversed, in your home country? I doubt it. I have known people that tried to work on a visitor's visa, while getting paid to an overseas acount; they either couldn't come back or it got very complicated. They didn't get bagged per se, but the INS folks sniff that out when some is here too long. You need to tell the truth.

shaile 07-27-2011 10:27 AM

Funding a voyage
Thanks for the response.
The question was a part of a search for ways to fund my future (in 3 years) retirement and sailing in the world.
I have experience in software development (image processing) and I think I can use it to fund the sailing.


denverd0n 07-27-2011 10:53 AM

This is a tricky area of immigration law, so you REALLY need to do your own research, possibly pay a lawyer, and be sure that you have the right answer (rather than just trusting the advice of strangers on an internet forum), before embarking on such a venture.

Having said that, I can tell you that I spent a good bit of time researching the options for working abroad a few years ago. My guess is that you would not need a U.S. "work visa." That is for someone who comes to the U.S. and gets a job working for a U.S. company as an employee. You would, however, most likely need a business license, and I am sure that some sort of permit to operate a business as a foreign citizen would be required.

You would not be an employee of any U.S. company, but you WOULD be operating your business in U.S. territory. I do not know the details, but I would bet a HUGE amount of money that the U.S. has restrictions (paperwork, fees, etc.) on foreign citizens who want to operate a business in the U.S.

Indeed, all countries that I am aware of have some such restrictions.

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