One of the main questions presented when discussing business activities in the United States is whether or not work authorization is required, or, “Do I need a TN visa?”
U.S. Immigration Law requires foreign workers to obtain proper U.S. work authorization before working in the United States in any capacity. Working in the U.S. is generally defined as labor or service in exchange for remuneration or wages. Not being compensated for a role that would normally require compensation, is still seen as “work” for immigration purposes. Coming to the U.S. as a volunteer or unpaid intern does not escape the need for proper work authorization.
The following definitions provide basic guidance on what is considered working in the United States under U.S. Immigration Laws:
The term employee means an individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration. 8 CFR 274a.1(f)
The term employment means any service or labor performed by an employee for an employer within the United States, including service or labor performed on a vessel or aircraft that has arrived in the United States and has been inspected, or otherwise included within the provisions of the Anti-Reflagging Act. 8 CFR 274a.1(h)
If an employee of a foreign or U.S. Company seeks entry to the U.S. to perform any service in return for compensation, it may be considered “work” under U.S. Immigration Law requiring proper work authorization. U.S. Immigration law does not limit the need for work authorization to employees of U.S. companies. With limited exceptions, employees coming to the U.S. to perform services for their foreign employers in return for compensation will require proper U.S. work authorization. The process of determining whether or not work authorization is required can be complex. If you have questions about your activities in the United States and the need for U.S. work authorization, contact a licensed U.S. lawyer experienced in U.S. Immigration Law.