Working Outside the United States

Roles and Responsibilities

Employees who will work remotely are responsible for:

  • Working with unit staff to ensure compliance with applicable laws, policies and procedures.
  • Making any necessary adjustments for their personal income taxes and benefits

Unit staff are responsible for working with the Office of General Counsel and Business and Finance Departments to ensure compliance.

Call the SSC Contact Center at (734) 615-2000 or send an email to with specific questions.

For "non-United States workers," e.g., employees in H-1B, TN, E-3 or J-1 status, call the International Center at (734)-764-9310 to discuss immigration compliance.

Employment Law

Considerations include:

  • Minimum wage
  • Overtime regulations
  • Classification as exempt
  • Meal and rest periods
  • Travel-time pay
  • Family/medical leave provisions

Before hiring employees, contact the Office of General Counsel. General Counsel will retain attorneys with the necessary expertise as needed. The department will be required to pay for the attorneys

Offer/Appointment Letter

Offer letters must specify that payments to employees will be issued in U.S. dollars. Requests to have payments converted through wire transfer as foreign currency are handled separately through the wire transfer process.

Visa, Passport, Work Permit

There are a variety of visa types that may be required depending on the nature of business to be conducted. Visa and work permit application requests can take 4 or more months to process. Remaining on U-M payroll may not cancel the need for a work permit. Some countries require a local sponsor for a work permit.

  • An entry visa may be needed regardless of how long the employee will be in the country
  • A work permit authorizes paid employment in a country.
  • A work visa authorizes entry into a country to take up paid employment.
  • A dependent visa permits family members to accompany or join employees in the country of assignment.
  • A multiple-entry visa permits multiple entries into a country
  • Entry and work permit requirements by country

International Travel

The University International Travel Policy applies to all faculty, staff and students traveling outside of the U.S. for university-related purposes.

I-9 Compliance

An I-9 form is not required if the U-M employee does not work in the U.S.

Telecommuting Agreement

A telecommuting agreement helps to ensure a safe work environment, compliance with applicable University policies and procedures, agreed upon standard work hours, communication methods, and work expectations.

When there is a departmental-approved work schedule that includes working at a non-University site on a consistent, regularly scheduled basis (e.g. one or more days per week), an employee is considered to be telecommuting.  Ensure a telecommuting agreement is in place for telecommuting employees.  Contact the Office of General Counsel to review the telecommuting agreement to ensure compliance with local laws as applicable. Departments should review these agreements annually at a minimum and renew as appropriate.


Provider networks are the primary consideration with respect to off campus benefit enrollment. Employees should select a health plan that will provide them with the desired level of coverage and provider network flexibility in their area. For more information, visit Using Your U-M Benefits Outside the U.S.

Personal Tax Liability

Employees may need to consult with a tax advisor regarding their personal tax situation.

Employees who will live and work outside of the State of Michigan should complete and submit the personal data form.

For a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether working in the United States or abroad. Worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where employee resides.

If an employee determines that he/she is eligible to claim the foreign earned income exclusion, an IRS Form 673, Statement For Claiming Benefits Provided by Section 911 of the Internal Revenue Code must be submitted to Payroll.

Form 673 is valid for one year and must be resubmitted to Payroll each December of each year. For more information, please Call the SSC Contact Center at (734) 615-2000 or (866) 647-7657 (toll free).

Direct Deposit/Wire Transfer

If the employee cannot update Direct Deposit Information online, the Direct Deposit Authorization Form should be faxed or mailed to the Payroll office.

If the employee does not have a U.S. bank account, contact Finance to request a wire transfer. The department may need to submit the request for each payment and will be required to pay the fee associated with each transfer.

If the employee cannot update Direct Deposit Information online, the Direct Deposit Authorization Form should be faxed or mailed to the Payroll office.

Travel and/or Moving Expenses

Whenever staff members request to but are not required to work from a non-University site, travel and/or moving expense reimbursement is at the discretion of the department. Staff should expect the reimbursement to be subject to personal income tax.

Whenever staff members are required to establish a temporary residence at a remote work location for extended periods of time, they may be eligible for remote location compensation and/or reimbursement for transportation costs incurred.

Safe Computing

As a member of the U-M community, you share in the responsibility for ensuring U-M complies with data protection and privacy laws, regulations, and industry standards, as well as U-M policies and standards that require security safeguards around sensitive institutional data.

Protect yourself and protect the university when using both university-provided and personal devices.


An employee working outside the U.S. is not eligible for unemployment from the State of Michigan or United States.

Worker's Compensation and Liability

Consult Risk Management regarding coverage for potential losses or liability.

Ensure the employee is registered with the international travel registry.

  • If there is a work-related injury, an injury report form will need to be completed.
  • Risk Management will contact an insurance company to handle the foreign liability and advise UM on compliance.
  • If there is no workers compensation law in the country, the practice is to apply Michigan law.

The hiring unit is expected to maintain U-M standards in working conditions regardless of the country's laws (unless the country's laws are more restrictive). Medical treatment standards vary in other countries. Typically the university is not insured to bring employees back to the U.S. for medical treatment unless medically necessary.

Units may need to consider what it would cost to bring someone home if they are injured and do not meet the criteria to require treatment in the U.S. If medical treatment in the U.S. is preferred, the cost to bring the employee back to the U.S. would be the responsibility of the unit.

University Standard Practice Guide Applicability

The Standard Practice Guide is a compendium of the university’s general operating policies and procedures. The policies that are contained in the SPG are approved by university leadership and typically apply to the entire institution. Please consult with the Office of General Counsel to ensure compliance with local employment law.

Home Office Tax Deduction

See IRS Publication 587 Business Use of Your Home.