Is it Legal to do Freelancing Work in F1 Visa?

Raghuram Sukumar F1 Visa 17 Comments

Myself and many of my friends are having the following doubt. It would be great if you clarify this.

Is it legal in US to do free lancing (projects based from a country other than US) while studying (with F-1) or with any other non-work permit visas (such as dependent visas) which doesn’t allow full-time work permit).

If allowed, in-case of F1, the hours claimed/spent should not exceed 20 hours ?

Freelancing Work in F1 Visa

  • Off-Campus Part Time Jobs – Not Allowed
  • Full Time Employment (without CPT/OPT) – Not allowed
  • On-Campus Part Time Jobs (20 hours during semester) – Allowed
  • Freelancing Work while on F1 Visa – Not Allowed
  • Part Time and Full Time Internship with CPT/OPT – Allowed

Off Campus part-time jobs are allowed, if you get work authorization due to family hardship. But, if you do that, I believe you are not eligible for OPT.




  1. I told VO that im working freelancer in my country and VO doesn’t even ask accept my i20 passport told me that im eligible for an F1 visa? what could be the reason working freelance?

  2. They’re kind of killing the expertise of the people. Don’t they? Stupid rules though.

  3. If i get an internship in some company which is paid but i haven’t completed 9 months in USA is it right to work with that company or do i have to wait until nine months ?

  4. What if I am helping someone locally with some technical project like building an architecture of some website or mobile application etc. I don’t expect any monetary benefits for helping out but afterwards, that person pays me a small amount via CASH (like $300 a month). Is that fine ?

    1. Author

      Any work that you do where you are getting paid is illegal. So, you have to decide if you want to do. Chances of someone finding you for $300 is minimal. But, make sure you know the law.

      1. Hi Raguram, is freelancing allowed in opt while having a full time job?
        What about freelancing on H1B visa?
        Is there only a certain amount of money you can make. Appreciate your help.

          1. When you say no for H1B and Stem OPT, does it mean in no amount at all or if I do it on a small scale it is fine?

            What are the risks and chances to be in trouble?


          2. Author

            Again No is the answer 🙂

          3. Author

            Before the New STEM OPT Rule and After STEM OPT Rule makes the difference. So, talk to an attorney about your plans and make a decision.

    1. As per F1 Visa law, its not allowed. As per IRS, you don;t have to show upto $600 income while filing taxes. If you are blogging for hobby and make few dollars, then you should be ok.
      You have to write a blog post about HSB in your blog.

      1. Ok. And what if I blog from the US & payment is sent via check directly to India, then? And I’ll write a blog post about HSB in week or two. Busy with college submissions and all.


        1. Place where you work is that counts, not where you get paid. When you file taxes in US, you have to report you world wide income. Wish law was much more friendly, but thats not the case.

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