Working remote for an American company while on a working visa and ARC on a Taiwanese contract


I signed a contract to work in Taiwan. I was considering also working remote as a contractor for a us company (especially since there’s still no word for when I can actually enter the country to start working).

How could I do this legally? It’s very difficult to sit and wait for Taiwan to let me in without earning any income.

Not a lawyer, but:

(1) Where are you at the moment?
(2) Are you currently being paid by (or working for) the Taiwanese company?
(3) When did/does your contract start?

If the answer to (1) is the U.S. and the answer to (2) is no, I’m not sure where the legal issue is - it’s reasonable for you to need to support yourself while waiting to be let into Taiwan.

I suppose it might be breach of contract to work for someone else if your contract here has already started, but if they’re not actually paying you yet…of course you need to be able to earn money and can’t be expected to wait indefinitely. (And if this is breach of contract, wouldn’t them not being able to provide you with the contracted hours also be it as well? Presumably falls under force majeure in both cases.)

I don’t see how you could be accused of breaking Taiwanese law if they’re not even willing to let you in the country yet (and even if you are, my attitude would be “screw it, I still need money”).

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My question is, if I start working on another contract here, then I fly to Taiwan to work the Taiwanese contract and the American contract at the same time later, will I be breaking the law at that point? Will i need to somehow get a another work permit (even though I’ll be an independent contractor)?

I’m also worried a bit about trying to work two full time jobs at the same time. I’ll be a public school teacher in Taiwan.

Does either contract stipulate exclusivity?

The taiwanese one does. Well it says I need to inform them first. Get permission or else it might void the contract

There’s a couple of relevant recent threads here:

You can probably find quite a few more using terms like “remote” in the search function. (I’ve done this before and sifted through them all several times - not inclined to do it again!)

My understanding is that your overseas work would technically be illegal as it wouldn’t be covered by your work permit (and, to answer your edit, you won’t be able to get a work permit for that anyway). Nonetheless, it seems quite common to me and some would claim it to be a grey area (I don’t think it’s that grey, personally). AFAIK, the Taiwanese government doesn’t actively pursue people doing small amounts of irregular work for overseas clients while on a work-based ARC, and as long as you declare the income on your tax return that aspect of the potential illegality wouldn’t be an issue.

From your use of “independent contractor”, I take it that you wouldn’t be an employee of the U.S.-based company - that presumably makes it much easier for you to quit if and when you need to? Don’t forget that the lack of job security with that designation works both ways. :slightly_smiling_face:

That’s a valid concern, which I guess would depend on the specifics, e.g., how much work would be involved for the contractor role. I’ve had a full-time job while doing overseas freelance work before (in China though, not here), and it was a bit of a pain at times.

Personally (this would also depend on your answers to (2) and (3) above), I would take that to only become valid when I’m actually working for the Taiwanese company. I’m guessing you still don’t have an ARC and they haven’t yet applied for your work permit? In any case, I wouldn’t feel compelled to inform them before I’m actually working for them and they’re actually paying me.

AFAIK, you have no idea yet when you’ll be allowed to enter the country or start work, right? I wouldn’t be surprised if telling them you’re planning to do something else might backfire, and on that basis I wouldn’t volunteer the information. From the details you’ve given, it seems like your U.S. job would be easy to quit if/when you need to.

Are you eligible for the gold card? If so, that might make things easier work-permit wise (because you wouldn’t need one, even if you ended up doing both roles at once in Taiwan).


Thanks for your responses. I’ll read through those threads you posted. I don’t like having to operate outside the law, i want to work 100 % legit but i feel like I’m being backed into a corner with this situation.

If I took this contract i would eventually be eligible for a gold card, but currently I’m not eligible. You need to have made a certain salary for a certain amount of time to be eligible and this would be my first job in this industry.

They have applied for the work permit already. I should have it issued sometime this week. Are contracts easy to terminate in the us? I’d be working as an independent consultant under a 6 month contract for a multinational company (at this stage it’s just an interview but i figured it’s good to ask these questions now rather than later when it’s too late).

I wasn’t planning on telling my school at all, i was more worried about taxes and the taiwanese government noticing I paid taxes on a job i don’t have a work permit for and then deporting me.

Thanks for your help

No worries. Just to clarify a couple of things:

You might want to look into this some more - salary is one eligibility criterion for a gold card, but it’s not the only one. You could also get one if you have a PhD from a top 200 uni, for example.

I don’t know about this - I’m not from the US. I guess you’d have to check the terms of the contract if and when it arrives, but I’d be surprised if there was absolutely no opportunity to end the contract early. The main thing I’m getting at is that you need to take care of your own interests first and foremost - I imagine both the U.S. company and the Taiwanese school wouldn’t hesitate to do the same and leave you out on a limb if it suits them. So going for the interview seems reasonable at the moment.

Again, this is something I’d see as a problem for later. Until you’re physically in Taiwan (and who knows when that’ll happen?), you’re not doing anything wrong. As the school is applying for your work permit at the moment, maybe you could push them for more information about your estimated start date? It might be that they expect things to change soon, in which case you might decide to not bother with the U.S. interview. Or it might be that they still have no idea, in which case it seems reasonable for you to look into other options unless they’re willing to start paying you to wait for them (from what I’ve heard about Taiwanese employers, I don’t think this is likely).

Another thing to keep in mind: If you stay in Taiwan less than 183 days (and definitely when it’s less than 90 days), consensus seems to be that you don’t need to pay taxes on income paid by foreign employers even when the work was performed in Taiwan. So depending on when you come to Taiwan, you might not even need to declare that income at all.

And given that some people seem to be working remotely on tourist visa for years (and some apparently also paying taxes?) without too many issues apparently, the risk of running into any issues is probably rather low if it’s really just a very short time that you actually work remotely from Taiwan. YMMV, of course.

If you’re planning to continue that long term, then getting the Gold Card (potentially after arriving in Taiwan - or when having the contract), would of course make things much clearer.

Ok it seems like the consensus is to just go ahead and go through with the interview and consider the job. I think this makes the most sense as well. If I land this contract, I’ll 100% be eligible for a gold card. I’ve looked into the other options for gold card but i just don’t meet the requirements sadly. You mostly need years (3)of experience in the field from what I’ve seen (it’s tech/research) and or have publications.

The tax exemption might work out! The contract is for 6 months. Depending on how long it takes to get in, there’s a good chance I won’t be on the hook for paying taxes or I’ll be eligible for applying for the gold card which includes that open work permit.

Should probably double check that. My recollection is that you’re right for 90 days or less but should pay tax at the non-resident rate with no exemptions or deductions ($$$) above that up to 183 days, including income paid by foreign employers while physically in Taiwan. (I’m not feeling inclined to go digging through the tax rules again at the moment though).

That’s something else for OP to note - if you do make it here this year, your tax rate for 2021 won’t be favourable.

Well turns out that for this job it’s not possible anyway. Just finished the interview and they said it has to be in the United States specifically. They an office in Taipei though and said it might be possible to work there. So I guess I got a decision to make if they offer me the position.

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