How to generate Passive Income as an F1 Visa / OPT International Student?

International students
5 min read

Every year, thousands of international students come to the USA for an exchange semester or further education. Many students wish to work while studying in the United States. Of course, your priority as an F1 visa holder is to study in the United States.

Still, there may be various compelling reasons you wish to work or earn passive income while studying – perhaps you want to make money, support your tuition & living expenses or acquire practical expertise in your field.

F1 students in the United States may choose from various academic and non-academic possibilities to generate passive income. This article will look at the methods for creating passive income and what legal limitations exist for F1 visa employment while studying in the United States.

What is the purpose of the F1 visa?

An F1 visa is a study visa for non-citizens who are not US citizens or nationals. The F1 visa is not intended to be used as a work permit. Instead, the F1 visa allows you to work in specialized fields while studying in the United States and afterward.

These restrictions are because F1 Visas are “single-purpose” visas, which means the United States government established the F1 visa program to allow immigrants (non-US people) to study in the United States and then return home after their studies are completed.

Therefore, the F1 visa was not designed to help people go to work in the United States. However, the F1 visa does provide an opportunity to perform specific kinds of work, usually within your field of study. 

What are the work restrictions for F1 student visas?

The restrictions mentioned above are intended to safeguard the primary goal of an F1 student visa. You’re in the United States to study, not to make money. Therefore, you may only work up to 20 hours a week while your semester is in progress.

This is so you won’t fall behind on your studies and get a bad grade because you didn’t study enough of the time. This implies you can only take part-time employment during your semester even if you have a lot of free time on your hands.

Don’t be concerned, though. If you want to generate passive income during your semester breaks, you can certainly do so. During your vacation, you’re allowed to work up to 40 hours per week. This means you may apply for full-time employment during this time. After graduation, they can work in an OPT (Optical Practical Training) program if authorized by the USCIS.

What are the Visa Work Options for F1 students?

Before we look at how to make passive F1 visa income, let’s take a look at the three different ways to make an active income while working on an F1 visa.

Curricular Practical Training

A Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a short-term temporary work authorization (or training) directly connected to your studies. It may be paid or volunteer, and it’s typical for people seeking academic credit to participate in such programs.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

An OPT is a legal sort of employment for an F1 visa holder during your education. You may work on an OPT for a maximum of 12 months throughout your studies. However, the maximum number of months you can work after graduation is limited by the amount of time spent on OPT before completion (after you graduate).

STEM OPT Extension 

 Suppose you’re an F1 student in a STEM field such as science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. In that case, you may be eligible for an additional 24-month extension on your OPT programs, which is called a STEM OPT. You’ll need to apply for this extension before your initial OPT program expires.

You are not prevented from earning passive income when you study in the USA on an F1 visa. All you have to do is figure out where to discover legal F1 student visa employment to create legitimate passive income abroad. Here are some methods for generating revenue immediately:-

Renting Out a Room

This is the most popular approach for international students to make money abroad. It’s also the safest option if you hire property management firms to manage your home on your behalf. Of course, this implies you’ll need to pay for maintenance and tenant interaction, but you may make a profit from renting out a room.

In this situation, you’ll need a social security number. You may face tax consequences if you don’t have one, which might cost you more money.


Stocks are one of the oldest forms of investing. Stocks are a legal way to earn passive income if you have some knowledge of the stock market. However, you must make no more than four transactions each week since exceeding that limit will be considered day trading, which is illegal for F1 visa holders.

Writing  Manuscripts, Reports, and the Like

Although you can’t submit your writing, such as books and manuscripts, to the United States for publication and profit, you may do so to other countries.

You may publish your work in the UK while earning money through royalties, for example. In the United States, royalties are classified as passive income, which allows you to produce money as an F1 student lawfully.

Entering Competitions

Prizes you receive from competitions, including lotteries and cash prize competitions, are all considered passive income. This also applies to games that have nothing to do with your studies. Thus, you remain inside the law regardless of how much money you make.


During your stay in the United States as an F1 visa holder, you may volunteer in various vocations. Because it isn’t real work, there’s no reason to be concerned since you won’t violate F1 visa restrictions. This is acceptable as long as you aren’t taking away an American citizen’s employment by volunteering.

Volunteering can help you develop a variety of talents. In the long run, the skills you acquire from volunteering will aid your job application. While it is not generally considered a passive income method, it will provide benefits for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make money on YouTube while in the US on a F1 Visa or OPT?

No, you cannot earn money from your Youtube Channel, Tiktok or any other content platform while you ar present in the US on a F1 Visa or OPT. Always, be aware of the consequences if someone reports you or your activities to the USCIS – you might end up getting deported for violating the conditions of your visa status.

If you already have monetisation enabled on your channel. You must turn off monetisation to the channel after you land in the US on a F1 student visa or if you are working on OPT.

Can I earn money on Instagram or Influencer Marketing while in the US on OPT or F1 Visa?


Can I make money Freelancing while in the US on a F1 Visa or OPT?

No, Making money as a freelancer is not allowed on your student F1 visa or even on OPT.

Can I earn money by driving Uber or Lyft while in the US on OPT or F1 Visa?

No, you are not allowed to work for Uber / Lyft in your spare time while on OPT or F1 Visa. It is illegal.

Can I make money by cash jobs while in the US on a F1 Visa or OPT?

Any income that you do without any record or without reporting to the IRS is considered illegal. Irrespective of that, you must report all your income while on F1 Visa or OPT. Cash jobs are not allowed when you are in the country as a student.


It’s not easy being a student in the United States. You’ll need to budget carefully, and you may be searching for methods to generate some additional money. If you’re looking for work on an F1 student visa, without knowing what legal restrictions you must comply with might be challenging.

However, there are a variety of passive income options that may help you. Take advantage of these possibilities that are discussed in this article to begin earning right away.