The bureaucracy of international remote coding work
August 20, 2014 1:01 AM   Subscribe

From a description of a web company: "Everyone works from their own home or office, and we’re spread out all over the world — California, Texas, New York, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Iceland, Bulgaria, Australia, and more." I know lots of development companies operate like this, and I'm intrigued, but I don't know how it works, especially the aspect of taxation, citizenship, etc.

Most are US companies, but to be employed at a US company, one needs a US work permit, right? Are these companies sponsoring lots of visas? Or are their employees setting up one-person companies and selling consultancy services? Is there like a quick HOWTO on how to do this kind of thing as a European citizen? My citizenship is Swedish, and I'm mostly curious about working remotely for US companies. Thanks!
posted by mbrock to Work & Money (3 answers total)
If you're not employed by the company in the United States, then you don't need to have a US work permit. My guess is that if the employee is outside of the US, for simplicity's sake they are probably technically working as an independent contractor / freelance or setting up "one-person companies" as you put it, and just sending a regular invoice over.

This doesn't seem to be a huge problem (except that you need to make sure you're paid enough to cover the cost of things that employers would normally pay -- social insurance taxes, health insurance contributions, taxes in general), though as I'm just learning, some countries have strong regulations. In Germany, you are "fake self-employed" if you only work for one company, and they can come after you and/or the company for dodging taxes.
posted by polexa at 1:35 AM on August 20, 2014

I know a bunch of people who do coding work remotely, both for US and international companies. Almost all of them are technically contractors, with the company covering things like coworking spaces, insurance, and other benefits.
posted by third word on a random page at 1:44 AM on August 20, 2014

You only need a US work permit to work for a US company while living in the US (the work permit gives you the right to live here to work - it's really an entry/residence visa). If you lived here, you would also have a tax obligation here.

Working as an independent contractor basically means you are your own business*, selling a product (your time) to this company. It gives you no rights to live in the US.

Sometimes there are things that the paying company has to cover, it's possible Sweden requires them to register/pay/account for something in order to do business with someone in Sweden, but that will be their responsibility to handle and they're probably used to it.

*Don't assume that you need to set up a business to do this. I am sure that there are resources to tell you what to do.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:01 AM on August 20, 2014

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