Jobs and Geography

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While I’ve been in school. I’ve made some money as a freelance writer. I write blog posts, marketing copy, and things like that. I know that freelancers don’t get some perks that full-time employees get (health insurance, etc.), but I’m thinking that I’m going to try to make it as a freelancer for a while when I graduate. And a big part of why I want to do this is that I want to work remotely and travel.

I’m very confident in my choice of career, but I’m not as sure about how I’ll manage the travel and remote work from a legal perspective. For instance, is it legal to work in a foreign country for an employer in the US?

Written by Nancy Pearson, President of Nancy Pearson Design.

You’re not the only person embracing the possibilities of remote work. Both freelancers and full-time employees are increasingly doing work wherever they feel like living (or traveling to): 43% of employed Americans say they do at least some of their work remotely, and that figure is far higher than it has been in years past. The revolution has been made possible by technology: telecoms experts Polycom point to improved video-conferencing software as one big reason, and other factors include technology as old as email and as new as cloud-hosted software.

Travel reduces stress, so your plan to work on the go makes sense. And we just established that it’s very possible for you to move around the country while working. But what about, as you ask, outside of the country?

No matter where you go outside of the country, you’ll need a passport. Thanks to new government websites and initiatives, it’s easier than ever to get a passport or renew your passport, so this part shouldn’t give you much trouble. The real trick to working abroad is figuring out what kind of visa you’ll need.

Visa requirements vary by country. Sometimes, you’ll need a visa even for a brief tourist visit. More commonly, longer visits and employment or student life are what will trigger a need for a visa. But you won’t necessarily need a working visa to work remotely for an American company as a visiting American–after all, foreign officials don’t chase down every business executive that answers their phone on their honeymoon, do they?

The obvious solution is, unfortunately, one that requires some legwork: you’ll have to research each country you consider. The good news is that there are ways to simplify the task a bit. There are resources online created by globe-trotting freelancers that have gone before you. There are also programs that cater to traveling workers and take care of much of the red tape for them.

In short, your goal is an achievable one, but you’ll want to be careful to make sure that you don’t break any immigration or visa rules. Good luck with your professional and international future!

“Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.” — John Steinbeck

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