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I am a Canadian resident and citizen. I am planning to take a 4-6 month trip to the USA.

The REASON for my visit is pleasure, but I still intend to work on my existing freelance projects, and other projects set up online (Upwork, etc.).

Is this legal? What do I say during border crossings? Is there a "freelancer's visa"? Since my work is location agnostic, how do I even approach this?

Trying to find the relevant sections on various government websites, understand if they apply to me, and then figure out what "most people just do" has lead me to asking this question here.

  • We're not attorneys nor accountants here. – Xavier J Apr 1 '16 at 20:53
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    @codenoire but you are (hopefully) freelancers who have experience doing this kind of thing before... – Brian Morton Apr 1 '16 at 21:47
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I guess if you plan to get paid during that time, you may have some problems if you open an account there. You should check with your bank the options. Also, if you use paypal, there are some restrictions about receiving money in different countries.

However, this could also be seen as working remotely. For instance, if you work from home and your client is another country: wouldn't be the same case?

Anyway, have a look to this post, it can give you some ideas :)

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The place where you are working from does not impact your current projects, the only problem you should have in mind is if you prospect new clients in the US, you need to warn them that you are Canadian, and you will provide the receipt from Canada, not from US.

Furthermore, if you are in the country for pleasure, try to keep it that way, only work in your current projects, probably there isn't any law that enforces that you as freelancer cannot prospect new projects using tourist visa, but that is definitely not what this visa is for.

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    You mean if you prospect 'physically' I guess if you work on line and you reply to online offers there is no difference where you seat and your profile on those online sites does not change – Frédéric Henri Apr 7 '16 at 19:03
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As a freelancer, you may be the only person in your business and likely still need to be checking and responding to emails and maybe doing other tasks while you travel.

I'm not qualified to provide specific visa advice but I doubt this will be an issue during short stays (e.g. a few weeks) on a tourist visa in any country you visit as long as you are working remotely looking after your existing clients and not actively seeking new clients face to face in the country you are visiting.

On a longer stay (e.g. longer than 90 days), and if you intend to meet existing or prospective clients face to face, you should probably check with the relevant government authority whether a working visa is more appropriate. For example, a Temporary Business Visitor visa would allow you to "conduct activities of a commercial or professional nature. For example, consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, or attend a business conference".

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