Working Outside the United States or From a United States Territory

Updated October 12, 2023

Roles and Responsibilities

Employees who will work remotely are responsible for:

  • Working with unit staff to ensure compliance with the work agreement, applicable laws, policies, and procedures.

  • Making any necessary adjustments for their personal information, income taxes, and benefits

Unit staff is responsible for ensuring compliance with work agreement expectations, applicable laws, policies, and procedures.

Employment outside of the United States or from a U.S. Territory requires review, consultation, and may require permission from central offices before extending an offer/approving an arrangement. Contact your Unit HR representative to coordinate central office consultation.

Remote work arrangements may involve increased costs to departments.

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

When employees are working outside of the U.S. or from a U.S. Territory as their regular location of employment, there may be times when we are required to follow local employment laws. For legal advice regarding compliance with out-of country work requirements, the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) may be able to retain outside counsel at the unit’s expense. Units must work with OGC to retain outside counsel

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.

  • Offer letters may need to contain notification language regarding export control

  • Unit staff must work with the Shared Service Center for special processing

Visa, Passport, Work Permit

There are a variety of visa types that may be required depending on the nature of the 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.

I-9 Compliance

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

Address Changes

Employees need to review their "Current Local" address and edit if needed. To update the current address, go through Wolverine Access, and select Employee Self Service > Campus Personal Information > Addresses > Current Local.  

Employees should update theiraddress with TIAA and Fidelity Investments if they participate in any U-M retirement plans. 


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.

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

Income Tax Liability

The Payroll office does not have the resources to manage international employment tax responsibilities.  Employees may need to consult with a tax advisor regarding their personal tax situation.

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 the employee resides.

If an employee determines they are 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, request a wire transfer. The department may need to submit the request for each payment. There may be a 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 employees request to but are not required to work from a non-University site, unless otherwise agreed the employee is responsible for all expenses related to remote work, including but not limited to commuting, travel and/or moving expenses. Employees should expect any reimbursement provided to be subject to personal income tax.

Whenever employees 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.

International Travel

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


An employee working outside the U.S. is not eligible for unemployment from the State of Michigan or the 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 worker’s 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.