How to Make Extra Money While You're on an H-1B Visa

When you sign your H-1B visa, you accept the terms provided by USCIS. Those terms stipulate that you’re only allowed to work for the employer listed on the I-129 form — the business that sponsored your visa. But when the salary they pay you isn’t enough for you to reach your financial goals, can you supplement that income in other ways? This guide explains how to stay within the terms of your contract and still make some side cash.

Understanding the Terms of the H-1B Visa

The underlying reason for the H-1B visa program is to help the US government, citizens, and its economy. H-1B workers like you are in the country because businesses were unable to fill certain highly skilled vacancies with US workers. Your role helps the country by doing the work necessary that others can’t complete. Financially, you’re also investing in the economy by buying your goods and services and paying taxes.

USCIS is strict about that last part. You have to make a minimum threshold salary and pay taxes on that income. So, it’s not surprising that the government ensures they’re monitoring your incoming cash by limiting what you can do on the side per your visa contract.

That’s not to say you can’t earn more money. You just have to be cautious about how you go about doing this.

Passive Income Streams

Your contract says you can’t have another active source of income. But you can find ways to generate passive income. There’s a fine line in some of those activities, so before you do anything that pays you consistently, check with immigration experts like Visa2US to ensure you’re not violating your visa terms.

By definition, passive income refers to unearned income that you receive automatically without much effort. For instance, if you put $100 into a savings account and the bank pays you 1% per year on that money, you’ve earned $1 in passive income after your first year.

Savings accounts are one way to make a few extra dollars, but it can take a long time to see much of an impact, depending on the interest rate you get when you take out the account. If your goal is to start earning money toward a nest egg or a substantial goal, consider these forms of passive income:

●     Start a portfolio by investing in the stock market. Note: You can’t do this as a day trading or other professional job. It has to be a side stream of passive income in addition to your official visa-sponsored employment.

●     Become a non-accredited or accredited angel investor. You don’t manage the company you invest in, and you’re not tied to it materially, but you do receive passive income from investments.

●     Buy rental property and rent it out through Airbnb or a similar company. You can also rent a room out in your home. However, you can’t own and manage multiple rental properties, as that would be active income.

●     Sign up under Turo, a car rental company similar to Airbnb. When you’re not using your car, rent it out. You’ll have to report this to your auto insurance company, but it’s a legitimate form of passive income.

●     Look for bonus opportunities, such as cash-back programs for grocery shopping and buying gas. Apps like Get Upside, Ibotta, and Fetch give you money back when you upload your receipts for purchases you were going to make anyway.

●     Set up savings and checking accounts when bonuses are offered. Some banks give incentives to new customers to open accounts with specific criteria. 

●     Sign up as a carpooling rideshare driver. Since you’re going to the same destination but taking someone along for the ride, it’s still passive income. Uber or Lyft would be active.

You can also gamble and play the lottery as an H-1B visa holder. Winnings over a certain amount are taxable.

If someone gives you money, you can receive up to $15,000 tax-free. Those limits vary if you receive that gift from abroad.

What’s Next?

Something crucial to understand about your H-1B visa terms is that they are inviolate. In other words, if you violate them, even accidentally, you can forfeit your visa and get deported.

That’s a hefty penalty for earning a few dollars on the side, right? It’s understandable that you don’t want to accept any money without verifying it’s safe for you to do so, and Visa2US can help you.

Unauthorized work can lead to severe consequences. If you’re filing a W2 or 1099 along with your H-1B employment, USCIS can request your tax documents and find out. 

Before you accept any work, file for a change of status, or do any other H-1B-related tasks, contact Visa2US. Our experts are ready to help you get and keep your H-1B visa 24 hours a day.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.