As an international student in the United States (F1 visa), will I violate any visa policy if I do some freelance work on the internet for people residing outside of the USA?

As an F-1 visa holder, you must have enough money of your own to support yourself while you’re in the U.S. to study. Past that, you have very limited options when it comes to employment:

  • Students in their first academic year cannot work off campus at all. However, they can accept certain types of on-campus employment.
  • Students past their first year can only participate in three types of off-campus employment. Those three options are curricular practical training, optional practical training (pre- or post-completion of your course of study), and STEM optional practical training extension.

So, no, you would not be legally able to provide freelance services to people in other countries while you are here on an F-1 visa. If you did, you could violate your visa. You could have it revoked. You could be deported and even banned from re-entering the United States.

As others have pointed out, sending the money to a foreign bank account or even putting into an American account not in your name shouldn’t even be a consideration in your mind because you can create bigger problems.

Something you may consider doing is our LawTrades Micro service. This particular service allows people to pay a low flat-rate (usually around $25) to ask one of our experienced attorneys a custom question. Within 48 hours, you’ll receive an answer that addresses your particular situation. If you’re looking to work with an immigration attorney more directly we can help with that as well 🙂

Hope you give us a visit – g’luck!