Contractors’ Questions: How to work overseas, such as in Argentina, amid the coronavirus?

Contractor’s Question: What guidance is there for overseas contracting amid the coronavirus? Despite the covid-19 lockdown, would travel to a not very populous business district in Argentina be acceptable? Due to the crisis and the client’s need to find high-end skills to get through it, they are willing to double my rate as a senior software developer!

But what would be the correct legal form to offer my services near Buenos Aires? Also, as my spouse is an Argentinian citizen, what’s the best way to operate if she wanted to supply her tech support services as a contractor to companies here in the UK?

Expert’s Answer: Any travelling amidst this covid-19 worldwide crisis can be a significant challenge, regardless of the purpose or the destination.

To travel anywhere from anywhere, you would need to check the conditions that both countries (departure/ destination country) impose, such as the total or partial prohibition of exit/ entry, eventual medical certificates to hold and the possibility of working on-site.

Travel considerations (cont.)

To make the exercise even more challenging, you might need to be quarantined on arrival for at least 14 days, and perhaps at your expense. That, and the risk to your health posed by travelling at this time, is likely behind the client’s ‘double-your-rate’ offer.

At the same time, you should also bear in mind that some countries might allow you to exit, but not permit re-enter during this period. That could be costly too, in terms of your time, money and even your health.

The country list and the associated health and travel instructions change daily, so please consult the latest UK government guidance for Argentina online which, you should note, advises against all but essential travel. The guidance also talks of the Argentinian border being closed (to foreign nationals) until May 10th.

Whenever you do go, you'll need...

In the event that you do make the work trip to Argentina (at some stage), you need to hold a work permit to work on-site, near Buenos Aires or elsewhere in-country. To obtain a work permit, you first need to have a valid job offer by an employer registered with PENURE (National Registry of Petitioners on behalf of Foreign Applicants); see here for further details.

As to the best legal form when contracting overseas, this depends on whether you are allowed to work through your own limited company or not, according to the work permit issued. If you want to work as a self-employed contractor you will need a new work permit every time you change client, as all work permits are linked to the client.

However, in light of the current travel restrictions due to coronavirus in the UK, Argentina and other countries, consider that the nature of the role you mention may permit you to work remotely before you take up a physical presence in the country. And in the current climate, I would recommend this. For as long as this uncertain situation lasts, it is advisable that people work from their home, where they are in principle safer and can reduce transmission risks for other people.

Your spouse

Regarding your wife, it depends on her immigration status in the UK. If she is on a dependent visa that allows her to work as a contractor, then there is no issue, but please check with Home Office first.

If she is on another visa such as Tier 2 visa then, under that visa, she can legally work for her employer who sponsored the visa application. Similarly, if your wife is a holder of a Tier 1 visa, she can certainly work as an independent worker according to that visa’s terms. Good luck to you both; whatever you decide!

The expert was Kevin Austin, managing director of Access Financial, a contracting overseas advisory.

Tuesday 5th May 2020
Profile picture for user Kevin Austin

Written by Kevin Austin

Kevin is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, a Fellow of the Association of International Accountants and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

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