Working remotely from another country: what you need to know | Careers

If you are currently working remotely from Austin, TX, could you just as easily work remotely from San Jose, Costa Rica? So-called “digital nomads” do arrangements like this job.

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is someone who makes a living by working online while traveling. Rather than being in a fixed location and working locally, they can choose to work remotely in another country. According to, being a digital nomad is challenging, yet rewarding, and involves at least partial online work in various fields, such as content creation, technology, or consulting. Teaching English online is another popular option for digital nomads. Contract employees can also be considered digital nomads. There are many great options for living and working abroad, even working for an American company in another country.

According to MBO Partners 2022 State of Independence Research Study, 16.9 million American workers identify as digital nomads. This is an increase of 9% from 2021 and 131% from pre-pandemic in 2019. Additionally, the number of digital nomads with more traditional jobs i.e. employed full-time by an organization, increased by 9% in 2022. In context, this is on top of the 42% increase in digital nomads from 2020 to 2021.

Is it easy to work for an American company while living abroad?

One way to make the process easier is to negotiate with your current employer to work remotely abroad. For example, Sarah Zerina Usmen is able to work remotely in visual effects for an advertising company that does a lot of TV commercials. Usmen supervises freelance talent and motion-graphics artists before delivering the product to the client. In January 2022, as soon as Usmen returned from vacation, she approached her employer with a request to work from abroad in Madeira, Portugal. “I got permission from our HR accounting teams, then from my supervisor, and they all signed it,” she says. “I received an official letter saying that they were ok with me working remotely, then I submitted that as part of the visa procedure.

How long does it take to spend working abroad?

Living in Portland, Oregon, and moving to Funchal in Madeira, Portugal, took Usmen months to organize. In March, Usmen had an interview with SEF, the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service. “It was about getting all the paperwork together, opening bank accounts, getting pay stubs, clearances, FBI clearances, all of those things,” she says. “They have to check your criminal record, take your fingerprints, everything.” So if you are applying for a visa, be prepared for that as well. Once everything is submitted, you wait for approval. Once Usmen finally arrived in Madeira in June, ready to work, she encountered an already well-established local digital nomad community.

What kind of visa should you get?

Usmen advises potential digital nomads to do their homework before starting their own visa schedule. To live in Portugal, Usmen has a D7 visa, which allows him to stay for more than three months only. For her visa application, she had to provide information on her bank account, payslips and tax returns.

Annika De Maeyer, managing director of Overseas Interpreting, advises US citizens to be careful about visas when it comes to the Schengen zone of 26 countries in Europe. Overseas Interpreting is a London and Malta based company that provides communication solutions for deaf academics and professionals. “US citizens can enter the Schengen zone for up to 90 days with a tourist visa. Know the rules so you are not banned from re-entering a Schengen country,” De Maeyer wrote in an email. This could have implications for your work visa. More recommendations for navigating the Schengen countries can be viewed on the Department of State website.

Where can you find childcare services in another country?

After Usmen arrived, it took about a month to settle into the digital nomad community and then network to find daily childcare for his son. “It was really difficult the first month because we were always on waiting lists for daycare and also for nannies. … So go to the websites and ask the digital nomad families, ‘Who would you recommend? ?’ This process of finding people took a month,” she says. Digital nomads with school-aged children have the option of sending them to local schools that teach in Portuguese or sending them to international schools.

What if you can’t work remotely?

How you work remotely differs from employer to employer. And, of course, not all jobs can be done remotely. “My partner actually quit his job in Portland because you can’t do his work remotely. It’s being in a lab and working with materials and you can’t take your materials home,” Usmen says. . With a residence card in Portugal, it is possible to look for local jobs that are not far away, but it takes time. Do your research on non-remote work that might be available to you.

What are the other options for working abroad?

Language interpretation jobs are another option that will allow you to work from another country. For example, Overseas Interpreting provides sign language interpreting services worldwide, with 80% of its assignments in European countries. It has two bases of operations, one in Malta and the other in London, and it is opening a new physical office in Valencia, Spain. De Maeyer says that most international sign language interpreters work as freelancers and enter the profession almost by accident, as there is no formal training. “We are trying to change that and ensure better international access by also encouraging performers from disadvantaged groups, including performers from the South and from BIPOC,” said De Maeyer.

For a job like this, the company is looking for workers who have traveled or lived abroad before to meet the needs of its clients who travel extensively and are internationally minded and often fluent in more than one language. sign language. “This means they must have lived abroad before or at least have traveled extensively before joining OI. We value knowledge of multiple spoken/written and sign languages ​​and the ability to adapt easily both culturally and linguistically,” says De Maeyer.

Challenges Digital Nomads May Face Abroad

With all of this in mind, what are the real challenges that digital nomads may face when working abroad?

Cultural differences. De Maeyer explained that in their case, in Spain, things can take longer than expected. “Things will be different. Accept it and embrace it,” says De Maeyer. “You might think someone is rude, when they might think you are rude. Give them the benefit of the doubt. De Maeyer recommends keeping in mind that the corporate culture in another country may also be different.

Language barrier. Learn as much of the local language as possible beforehand to help you navigate life in another country.

Tax rules. Know the US tax rules and see if and how much you still need to pay US taxes around the world.

Find colleagues. Identifying people with whom you can collaborate professionally and who can support you in your work takes effort. “For our staff, it’s not always easy to find other signatories, so be prepared to spend time finding people who will become your peers,” says De Maeyer.

Solitude. Even if you don’t have social support, it’s now easier to find other digital nomads and meet online. “It will be lonely. You will miss many family and friends events,” says De Maeyer. “You won’t have a readily available support network. Fortunately, there are many groups available now, like on Facebook or other social media platforms where expats share information. ”

Some benefits you will find

Considering the challenge you will face as a digital nomad, what positives can you expect?

More post-COVID-19 events. Things have picked up after COVID, so there are more opportunities to meet your digital nomad neighbors as well as the locals. “Fortunately, after COVID, there are also many other events you can take part in,” says De Maeyer. “Meeting so many people from different walks of life and backgrounds will enrich you in ways you never imagined.”

Work from tourist locations. Digital nomads also benefit from tourist spots that may be open at late hours. It helps to work odd hours in international time zones. “There are a lot of restaurants that are open until 11 p.m. or midnight,” Usmen says. “I don’t know if they cater to tourists in general…but digital nomads gravitate to these places to fit their own schedules.”

Support for established digital nomad communities. An existing community of digital nomads offers support, guidance and stability. Initially, Usmen felt some anxiety going to Madeira, but now that she has arrived there is a sense of normalcy. “It’s really interesting because other people in the United States (say) ‘Oh, that’s so weird’ or ‘That’s so cool, so different.’ But when I’m here, a lot of people around me do that too so it doesn’t seem weird at all. Usmen’s co-workers in the US sometimes wonder about the time difference in meetings or his late working hours. , but Usmen says she’s not the only one. “I did this, it’s good and everyone works in international time zones anyway. It’s fun, I’m totally used to it .

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