Planning to Work Abroad as a US citizen? Here’s What to Know

It isn’t clear the exact number of Americans working abroad, but in 2016, it was estimated that about eight million Americans are working in other countries. Most of these overseas Americans are found in Europe and Euroasia (two to five million). These Americans are also known to be living in other countries while retaining their US citizenship.

Working abroad might be an essential part of your career. It’s either that or you might have found that some jobs pay so much more in other countries. Regardless of your reason, it’s still important to know what you need to do before starting working abroad and what it entails for your citizenship.

Get a Work Visa

In most situations, a working visa is enough for you to get employment overseas. But surprisingly enough, not many Americans know this. This is because the US passport is a powerful tool if you want to go overseas, and those that have one tend to think that they can use it for work or other purposes. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

A US passport can only get you so far. In most countries, the limit of your stay is 90 days. This can vary depending on the country you live in. 90 days is nowhere near enough days for you to start a career abroad. What you need is a working visa for you to work in other countries uninterrupted. So how do you apply for a work visa?

Applying for a Work Visa

Work visas are usually done by your employers because of their complicated process. What makes it so complicated is that requirements differ. These requirements depend on the country you’re planning to work in. There is a list of US embassies in the US Department of State. You can contact these embassies to help you guide with the process of applying for a work visa.

However, this doesn’t make it any easier. Your best bet is to contact an employment immigration lawyer to help guide you with the process step-by-step. You can also ask them to make the application for you to expedite the overall process if you’re in a hurry, as it can take some time before your work visa is approved. Countries that can easily give you a work visa are Australia, The Netherlands, Cambodia, and Germany, are among the few.

File Your Taxes with the Internal Revenue Service

Once you have your work visa ready, you’re not yet ready to go. You might think that (and your employers must have told you this) you no longer need to pay taxes to the US once you start working in another country. For many full-time jobs in other countries, this is true.

However, you still need to file your income taxes and pay them in the IRS. For example, if you’re working in Germany, you must file your income taxes in Germany, but show that you are paying your income taxes to the IRS. It can be not very clear, but it’s one way to prove that you are legitimately earning money abroad. You can learn more about the process.

You Can Lose Your US Citizenship While Working Abroad

passport concept

If you’re a green card holder and you plan to work in other countries, said the US, it’s possible that you can lose your US citizenship while working abroad. It’s pretty rare, but it can happen involuntarily.

The term of losing your US citizenship while working and living abroad is the abandonment of residence. This only happens for green card holders, so you don’t have to worry about this if you’re a naturally born US citizen. If you’re a green card holder and you want to keep your US citizenship while working abroad, there are a couple of things you need to know. The first is to show your intention of returning to the US.

You Need to Have an Intention of Returning to the US

Green card holders who have residencies in the country they want to work in must show the immigration office proof that their permanent residency is in the US. This can come in many forms, such as showing proof that you own a US property (this can be from your mortgage), utility bills, vehicle, or any similar asset, tax returns, bank account, and many more.

You can ask your local immigration office regarding what kind of files you can show to prove that you are indeed returning to the US after you’ve worked abroad. You must file for many of these things to not lose your US citizenship while working abroad. The next thing you should know is that you don’t stay too long outside the US.

Staying Too Long Outside the US

Green cards can be deemed invalid if you have spent more than a year outside the US. This is how a green card works, and by doing so, you can lose everything you own back home. If you’re planning to work outside the country for more than a year, make sure that you have a re-entry permit before leaving the country.

Here are the essential things you need to know if you’re planning to work abroad. It is a pretty straightforward process in most situations, especially if your employer helps you file for your work visa. But if they don’t, make sure that they are cooperative with the process. Employers who show no cooperation or help regarding your application for a work visa are a serious red flag. You should stop your intention of working for that employer altogether.

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