How You Can Earn Extra Income On an H-1B Visa

When you’re in the United States under an H-1B visa, there are specific terms you must abide by during your stay. Yes, the visa gives you permission to work and earn a living in the country, but only for the company that sponsored your petition and only under the job description specified on your Labor Condition Approval. But sometimes, your financial goals aren’t in line with your annual income, and you want to add more money to your bank account. How can you earn extra income while on an H-1B visa without violating the terms of your document? Keep reading to find out what you can do to increase your pay while in the US and what you mustn’t do if you want to avoid penalties.

Side Jobs for More Income

Through the terms of your H-1B visa, your main job is working for the authorized employer that sponsored your document. This is specified on your I-129 form, and if it changes, you must contact USCIS to complete a transfer form and get approval for those new terms.

However, there are certain things you can do alongside that I-129-specified job to earn more money. Note that these jobs or passive income streams must generate taxable revenue.

●     Invest your money in trading through the stock market. As long as you’re not a day trader, you can do this legally. But if your profession includes working for an investment bank or consulting for market portfolios, check your restrictions and ensure you’re cleared through your compliance department. USCIS doesn’t mind your trading hobby, but your job may have limitations.

●     Rent your possessions. VRBO and Airbnb are popular rental streams of income for many people. You can rent a room in your home or occasionally rent out your home. You can also rent your car out on apps like Turo. This is provided that you report your rental income and losses each year on Form 1090-MISC. You may not manage multiple rentals, as that is “productive work” and not allowed.

●     Consider angel investing. This is a form of investing in a start-up company and drawing passive income from your investment. To do this, you must meet strict income requirements.

●     Use incentive bonuses offered through banks to open various checking accounts. You’ll need to meet their requirements, such as deposits, regular balances, or direct deposits.

●     Carpool using apps that reimburse your mileage.

●     Receive gifts of up to $15,000 in assets, tax-free.

You can also gamble legally as an H-1B visa holder, provided you follow the state’s laws and regulations. Should you win certain amounts, you’ll have to report those winnings and pay taxes.

What if You Don’t Follow the H-1B Terms and Restrictions?

These side jobs can be lucrative or earn you just enough to add a little cushion to your income. But if you need more money, it can be tempting to ignore the work authorization rules and hope you don’t get caught.

Before you do this, please understand the consequences of your decisions.

Yes, there are some types of unauthorized work that USCIS probably won’t find out about. But are you ready to deal with the effects if they do?

Any unauthorized work that requires a W2 or 1099 will be reported to the government, and if USCIS pulls your tax returns, they’ll learn about the broken terms. Per your agreement when you signed for your visa, USCIS has direct access to the IRS tax returns should they request them.

It’s nice to think that everyone is our friend, but the reality is that anyone can report your extra earnings. If you are reported, USCIS can investigate your work status and tax returns.

Should you violate the work authorization while on your H-1B visa, your visa can be revoked, requiring you to exit the US and start the process of obtaining entry to the US from the beginning. 

What’s Next?

If you’re unsure as to whether the work you’re considering is authorized or not, talk to a professional immigration attorney, like those of us at Visa2US. If you’ve already engaged in that work, contact us today to discuss the options you have and any possible consequences.

You don’t want to lose the status you worked so hard to gain just to make extra money unless you’re ready to “pay” the hefty fees that go with that earned income. At Visa2US, we’re here to counsel you and provide you with the options you have to remain within the terms of your H-1B visa.

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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.