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I would like to work as freelancer for USA clients, mostly because I am in the EU, and I don't want to wake up at the morning in my timezone.

I've applied to several jobs (which allow remote work) in the USA and been refused, or I haven't receive any response, or they want regular employment and I need a visa to work in USA (and so on).

Is it just the USA that seems to act in this way? I can work under contract and provide legal, valid invoices, if needed, so why the apparent restrictions on remote work?

  • 4
    Something tells me this question isn't exactly the greatest. You are asking why people are refusing you work, without all that much in the way of detail. Your could try and edit your question and improve on this, but in its current form your question is too broad/opinion-based to be properly answerable. – Amelia Aug 23 '13 at 5:37
  • On the whole, I've found American companies very Patriotic (some may say Nationalistic) in that they tend to use American suppliers unless there isn't anything suitable. I suggest the UK could learn a thing or two and support its own industry. – Andrew Aug 23 '13 at 9:38
  • Are you looking to freelance or are you looking to become a regular employee with one company that happens to work remotely? You mention freelancing but the rest of your post seems to hint at the latter. – sundar - Reinstate Monica Aug 23 '13 at 14:53
  • There are regular jobs in NY or San Francisco and there are jobs, which allows remote ( at Careers 2.0 for eg) and there are freelance sites too. Not sure why, but USA clients, possible employee don't want to work outside of USA. If I wouls live in USA than they would contract me for remote work. I put this question to see a possible reason, what are the concept there. Thanks for all who has answered – matheszabi Aug 23 '13 at 15:04
  • Can we please clarify if this is about US employers and non-US employees (which i believe is off-topic) or US companies and non-US freelancers, which is on-topic (and of interest to me)? – Martin F Jan 13 '14 at 3:26
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Why the are not choosing you? The reasons may be:

  • They prefer working with some in the USA. In case things go bad, they can always sue USA contractor. USA contractors are also aware of this.

  • Price of the project - large project are usually not being subcontracted outside USA

  • Remote workers are unreliable. I heard this sentence from many clients who tried hiring someone full-time remotely, and then got burnt heavily.

  • They are afraid that remote worker may leave in the middle of the project. This is not rare as we all know.

  • "And currency: given the current change rate, companies might be biased into thinking EU citizens are simply too expensive as workers" by ZJR. I've faced the same problems with currency conversions.

  • Some credit cards (like Payoneer) will charge up to 3% any US dollar leaves the US. Meaning, if you're paying someone outside USA $1000, they will charge you $30 extra (besides all other fees) because dollar had left the USA.

  • "Also timezones: a company might be already contracting overseas to China, and that requires a certain timezone juggling to brief, debrief and schedule meetings. Adding Europe into the mix might spike the management overhead, requiring too much energy and resources to keep things working" by ZJR.

  • etc.

I think that these reasons may be the main reason. Of course, some of them may be patriotic, but I think that most of clients would rather hire expert for a lower price, that USA mediocrity just cause he's American.

I would suggest you really try working for that company in the USA. If you are a developer and good one, after a year or so, you may be able to negotiate remote work. A personal friend of mine succeeded in this, but he had to work for that company 2 years on-site.

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    +1 for highlighting the legal protection aspect. Also fiscal headaches might ensue for companies that have never contracted overseas. And currency: given the current change rate, companies might be biased into thinking EU citizens are simply too expensive as workers. – ZJR Aug 26 '13 at 1:59
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    Also timezones: a company might be already contracting overseas to China, and that requires a certain timezone juggling to brief, debrief and schedule meetings. Adding Europe into the mix might spike the management overhead, requiring too much energy and resources to keep things working. – ZJR Aug 26 '13 at 2:10
  • And last but not least: language barriers. EU is not only UK, and I have friends, I grew up with, that expatriated to work overseas, and are pretty proficient at programming, but remain still damn... lacking, in English pronunciation. I have serious troubles understanding them while talking, and also in writing... I prefer them using Italian. Many, well-educated, Europeans still sound too much like poorly trained call-center operators, to US ears. It's a problem that's going to disappear, but right now, it's there. – ZJR Aug 26 '13 at 2:24
  • @ZJR Currency, I forgot about that. Will edit the reply. Upvote for that. The same for timezones. – Peter MV Aug 26 '13 at 16:52
  • @ZJR Most contractors I worked with knew technical English so well that we did not have any issues in communication. I guess if you're hiring a person with experience and not being the cheapest coder, then it's logical that his English skills are at high level. – Peter MV Aug 26 '13 at 16:57
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It seems you're assuming their reason for not hiring you is the fact that you're outside US, but there doesn't seem to be any real evidence to think so. I have been freelancing for a few years and have a few friends doing the same, all of us regularly get awarded projects by US clients and have had generally pleasant experiences with them. If there are people who are over-patriotic or nationalistic enough to not choose non-US employees/contractors, they aren't numerous enough to affect our project pool significantly.

I would recommend you to try contacting those who refused or ignored your application and politely asking them the reason for their rejection, but make sure you mention that you are asking this to improve your application process and not as a complaint against the rejection. It's possible they will ignore this mail also of course, but some may take the time to reply, and even a single reply can throw some light on whatever the real issue is.

  • I think he was not talking about work on projects. He talked about US companies hiring a remote team member. Full-time working the same hours as they. Outsourcing project by US companies is not in question at all. – Peter MV Aug 26 '13 at 16:58
  • He mentions both "I would like to work as freelancer for USA clients" and "several jobs (which allow remote work)" in the question, and his reply to my comment in the question also (as far as I understand it) indicates he's open to both options. – sundar - Reinstate Monica Aug 26 '13 at 18:52
  • I read the question again and I do not understand it as a question directed towards single-project jobs. I still think that he seeks full-time long-term jobs. But let's not argue about this any more. Both may be right. – Peter MV Aug 27 '13 at 14:27
  • My thoughts are that this has changed since the original question & answer. If you look at remote-only sites like weworkremotely the majority of remote jobs are advertised as US-only. This is really frustrating for someone who is a native English speaker with a 4-5 hour overlap with the West coast. – timbo Oct 30 at 20:46
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Personally, I'm in France and the two most significant issues clients in the US raise are:

  • Timezone (I'm often stopping work when they're starting)
  • The weak dollar

So, using a randomly selected $250 daily rate (I charge more), that currently works out to €183/day. That's far too little money for a Western European contractor who has a decent reputation. In fact, it's even low for the US, unless you live in a really small, cheap town.

And yes, there's the concern about offshore workers. If you disappear, the company's often not in a position to do anything about it. Of course, the reverse might be true.

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