Can I work remotely for a US company from outside the United States?

Can I work remotely for a US company from outside the United States?

how to work for a remote US company

Question: I’m Italian but currently I live in Spain. I would like to know if is it possible for me to work for a US company by remote while still live here in Spain and if I need some authorization from US government or some special document. Also, I would like to understand what is exactly the Visa sponsorship and if I need it if I just want to work remotely from Spain. And when I will be hired by a US company to which state I’ll need to pay taxes? Spain or US? And the company will be able to make a standard contract or will hire me as Freelance?

Thanks for the question. There are two common ways to remotely work for US companies. But first, why would a US company consider hiring you over someone in New York, for example? There are several good reasons.

Perhaps the time zone you live in is advantageous – you can get a lot done before anyone gets online in the US Eastern time zone. Maybe you are willing to work for less money than a US employee with the same skills. Also, someone who speaks English, Italian and Spanish is a great asset to a US company with international customers.

So how do you get a job at a US company that isn’t specifically advertising for a trilingual, Europe-based awesome person like you? The first option is by applying just like anyone else. Look for and apply to both full-time and contract remote jobs and go out of your way to explain why hiring you to work from where you are located is a strategic advantage for them. Companies with experience hiring staff outside of the US will know the laws governing this situation and would pay you as a contractor, either in Dollars or Euros.

The second way is to find an agency that specializes in finding contract positions with US companies for someone with your skills. For example, if you are a software engineer, you can work remotely with a company like Rockstar Coders in Chicago (there are many others, I just happen to have experience with them but look around for others). They will connect you with a company that is looking for someone just like you. The company pays the agency and the agency pays you.

In both scenarios, you don’t need a visa or work permit because you are not performing the work in the US and you would pay taxes in the same way as if you were working as a contractor for a company down the street from you.

I also want to mention that a third, very uncommon way to work remotely for a US company is for them to hire you as an employee in the country you are living in. To do this the company would need to go through the legal process of becoming an official employer where you are – in this case Spain. In reality you would be hired by the Spanish division of the US company, so technically, you would be working in Spain for a Spanish company being paid in Euros. Unless a company is already doing this (Google, for example) it’s highly unlikely that they would do this in order to hire you.

Keep in mind that none of this is legal advice. I am not a lawyer so I can only tell you what my experience has been. 

Buona fortuna and buena suerte!

Always get the best advice first. 

Gregory Sherrow

Entrepreneur, nutjob runner and remote employment advisor/trainer for individuals, managers and entrepreneurs.

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