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How Can F1 Students Earn Passive Income? Thumbnail

How Can F1 Students Earn Passive Income?


Are you an F1 student looking to earn a passive income during your studies abroad in the United States?

The United States provides many scholastic opportunities for foreigners which is why in 2018, there were over 1.09 million international students in the US, setting a new record. Living and studying abroad is often a forgiving experience. However, few students find they can use their downtime to earn extra money.

This is often why students look for ways to earn passive income during their stay. Knowing how to find F1 student visa work is essential as there are certain legal restrictions which may pose a challenge.

Understanding what you can and can’t do is important if you want to be able to finish your studies abroad. We're here to help you understand the restrictions and help you find ways to earn passive income instead.

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What Are the F1 Student Visa Work Restrictions?

These restrictions protect the initial purpose of an F1 student visa. You’re in the United States to study, after all, not to seek income. While your semester is in progress, you’re only allowed to work up to 20 hours a week.

This is so you won’t fall behind on your studies and fail on the account that you didn’t spend enough of your time studying. This means you can only opt for part-time jobs during your semester. This still applies even if you have tons of free time at your disposal.

Don’t worry though, if you want to earn more passive income, you can do so during your semester break periods. You're allowed to work up to 40 hours a week on your break. This means you can apply for a full-time job during this time.

Related Article | How Can I Work And Earn Income While On An F1 Visa?

Available Work Options for You

First, let’s tackle ways you can earn a passive income under your F1 student visa. There are some training programs you can undergo such as the curricular practical training program (CPT). The CPT acts as authorization, albeit temporary, to work in jobs relating to the course you’re taking.

What’s great about CPT is that you can use it as a means for completion and experience. These can count as your internship and the experience you’re required to have before applying for a job as a graduate. In these cases of internship, though, they’re often unpaid, having counted the experience you gain to be an adequate payment.

Another program you can go for is the optical practical program. OPT jobs are more for pre-completion due to how long the program can last. A maximum of 12 months is what you can go for when applying for OPT.

If you’re in specific fields of math, engineering, science, and technology though, you can also opt for the STEM extension of the optional practical training program. This allows you to get an extension of 24 months to your OPT program. You can apply for it before your initial OPT program reaches its end.

Related Article | International Students: US Employment Options After Graduation

Legal Ways to Earn Passive Income

Student visas don’t forbid you to generate passive income outside of school related opportunities. You only have to know where to look for proper F1 student visa work to generate legal passive income abroad. Here are some ways you can start earning money today.

1. Renting Out a Room

This is the most common way for you to generate income abroad as a foreign student. It’s also the safest way to do so if you let property management companies do most of the work on your behalf. 

This means you’ll have to pay them for maintenance and interacting with tenants but you should turn a profit from renting out a room.

You’re going to need a social security number in this case though. Without one, you may face different tax implications which can cost you more money.

2. Investing

If you have confidence in your ability to predict the stock market, then investing in stocks is another legal way for you to generate income. This is legal as long as you make no more than 4 trades in a week. Making more trades would have your actions recognized as day-trading, a known profession.

You can also invest in different businesses to turn a profit. This remains legal as long as you participate strictly passively in the business’s functions. You can’t work in the business you’ve invested in for any reason.

3. Writing Manuscripts and the Like

You can’t submit books, manuscripts, etc. for publication and profit to the United States. However, nothing is stopping you from submitting to other countries like the UK, though. Sending your work to get published in the UK can generate income for you through royalties.

While you’re living in the U.S., any royalties you acquire fall under the passive income category. This means it’s a legal way to generate income while you’re abroad.

Related Article | What You Need to Know About Money and US Student Visas

4. Entering Competitions

Any competition you enter and win outside the campus won’t get you in trouble with US laws. Cash prizes you win also fall under the passive income category like royalties. No matter how much money you accumulate, you’re staying within legal restrictions.

This applies to competitions which have nothing to do with your studies. Additionally, winning any form of lottery prize also counts as passive income.

5. Volunteering

You can volunteer in different jobs during your stay abroad in the United States. Since it’s not official employment, there’s no reason for you to worry since you won’t breach F1 visa restrictions. This is legal as long as you’re not depriving an American citizen of a job by volunteering.

This can also be an opportunity for you to enhance different skills. In the long run, the skills you gain from volunteering will make you a better candidate for employment. While not a typical passive income strategy, it’s one that you’ll reap the benefits from for years to come.

Related Article | Can I Volunteer While I Am On An H1B Visa?

Earn a Passive Income Today

Looking for F1 student visa work can be tricky if you don’t know what legal restrictions you have to follow. However, there are many ways to accrue money through passive income that will benefit you. Take advantage of these opportunities to start earning now. You’ll reap the benefits of your effort and your future self will thank you.

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