As employers attempt to implement hybrid remote work policies, practical visa complications are beginning to surface. In this article, I have identified one of the most common challenges that employees of these companies are facing – obtaining work authorization.
Work from Anywhere….but read the fineprint.
The Work from Anywhere policy. It sounds really nice. And many companies (especially U.S. entities) are using this as a sweet policy-branding aspect to promote corporate culture. For purposes of retaining and attracting new talent this PR strategy makes perfect sense, but from an implementation and practical point of view, it is causing real headaches.
To be more specific – many companies are offering employees the ability to work abroad for a predetermined period of time (i.e. 90 days in a calendar year) IF they can provide proof that they have the legal authorization to work in their intended destination(s).
What is Work Authorization?
Work authorization is the right to legally work in a country. This can be granted through several formal, government mechanisms such as visas or residency permits.
For purposes of this article, if you wish to live and work remotely in another country there are obviously immigration implications. Typically, you will need a visa if you wish to be “legally authorized” to work. There is no such thing as simply obtaining a document authorizing you to work. The legal right to work in a country is intertwined with the purpose of your travels.
For organizations that permit a 90-day “work from anywhere” policy, many come along with an onerous requirement that they provide proof of their ability to legally work in the destination country or countries. This might have to be presented to human resources, management or administrative departments – or it might be requested at a future date.
This requirement places employees in a perfect catch-22 situation. Simply put, the modern day global immigration framework provides little options…..if you want to do things by the book. And most employees do.
How to Obtain Work Authorization for Remote Work Employees
If you wish to check all the boxes and provide your employer with legal proof of work authorization you will need to obtain a visa. More specifically, you will likely need to apply for a new category of visas that are specifically tailored for remote workers and digital nomads.
For purposes of this article, some of the most onerous requirements for remote work employees will be: (a) Demonstrating proof of local accommodations; and (b) Processing Requirements; and (c) Residency Registration with Local Authorities.
Indeed, this relatively new category of visas for remote workers and digital nomads sounds promising, but it doesn’t come without its own unique challenges.
Is a Remote Work or Digital Nomad Visa a Good Option for “Temporary” Remote Workers?
In the context of this article, we are presuming that most “hybrid” work from anywhere policies grant a 90-180 day duration to its employees and require work authorization to be eligible (i.e. “Temporary” Remote Workers)
Given the limited duration for you to take advantage of this remote work policy, it innately presents several complications for obtaining a remote work and digital nomad visa. The visa category that is the best suited to provide you with work authorization.
For instance, most remote work and digital nomad visas are granted for a period of 12-months. There are certain exceptions, like Croatia that can issue the visa for 6-months, but generally speaking you are looking at a one-year visa. And this isn’t an issue in itself – as nothing requires you to remain in the country for 12-months to receive the visa – but the requirements that are tied to the duration will present practical challenges.
For those limited to a 90-180 day period of living and working from anywhere in the world, the following considerations identify your catch-22 situation:
Most remote work and digital nomad visa applications require an applicant to furnish proof suitable accommodations for their destination country for the duration of the visa. In other words, at some point you will need to provide authorities proof that you have a lease and rental agreement that covers this period of stay granted by the visa (i.e. 12-months).
Embassies and Consulates around the world have unique processing timelines and requirements to submit visa applications. This means that you will need to plan in advance to time your application alongside your intended travel dates. If your goal is to present to your employer proof of work authorization, this means typically starting several months in advance of our application. Of course this varies from country to country, but it will require you to obtain documents from your employer and other formal documentation (i.e. criminal background checks) that can be onerous.
Some countries require another step to obtain work authorization after receiving the visa. This includes registering with the local police or authorities where you intend to reside. Typically, this needs to be done within a 30-day period and also requires you to formally register your new, local address. And yes, this local address typically should be good for the duration of your intended stay – which on paper will be 1-year.
Solutions for Remote Workers to Obtain Work Authorization
As you can tell, limited or hybrid Work From Anywhere policies implemented by many employers places employees in a bind. It is clear that employers are simply trying to disclaim any potential liability for illegal work authorization abroad, but many do so without fully understanding the practical challenges that their employees face to reap the benefits.
All considered, there are solutions, and it depends on your own circumstances – such as nationality, desired destination(s), granular details of your employer remote work policies, and even your own appetite for risk.
David is a global immigration lawyer and leads the visa-services team for Citizen Remote.
Book a consultation with David today to learn more about your options!
FAQs About Work Authorization for Remote Workers
Do I Need Work Authorization for Remote Work?
This depends. If you wish to “reside” in a country that requires you to have more than a visitor or tourist visa to remain, it is likely that you need a residence permit or visa that grants you the legal right to work remotely.
Where Can I Find No Work Authorization Jobs?
There are multiple sources for remote work jobs, but keep Citizen Remote job board on your radar as we continue to expand!
Will You Help Me Write a Remote Work Authorization Letter?
Yes. At Citizen Remote, we can provide applicants with access to a variety of useful documents.This includes template letters from your employer as well as petition letters outlining the key criteria that qualifies your employment as remote work.
How Much Is Work Authorization Renewal?
This only happens alongside the renewal of your visa or residency permit and fees can vary depending on the type of application.
What Work Authorization Do I Have?
This will depend on the type of visa or residency permit that you have been issued.