Passive ways to earn extra income on H1B

by | Jan 23, 2023 | American things, Career, Immigrants | 0 comments

Being on an H1B visa in the United States means that we have limited scope over multiple employment opportunities. Meaning, if you hold a full-time job where you signed that you would work 40hrs/week or more with an employer then you cannot work on anything or for anyone else actively. The majority of your time has to be given to the employer that sponsored your H1B visa.

Disclaimer: We highly recommend consulting an immigration attorney before getting into investing in any of the below ways of earning. It is subjected to risks and laws that we do not have complete expertise in.

Here are 10 passive ways that allow you to earn extra income on H1B that don’t require your full time and attention. 

  1. Investing: Investing can be one of the passive ways to earn on H1B as long as you are not professionally day-trading. Yes, you can invest your money in Stocks, CDs, Money-market equivalents, Cryptocurrencies, etc., and let it grow. This would give you dividends over a period which can become your passive income. 
  2. Renting out a room in your house: Again, this cannot be your primary source of income or you cannot manage or juggle too many houses simultaneously. But you can rent out a room in your (owned) home or if you have a second house you can let a property management company manage it, giving you passive income.
  3. Renting out your car: Just like renting out a room in your house, you can rent out your (owned) car when you are not using it on an app called Turo
  4. Carpooling: Yes, though it doesn’t pay as well as Uber or Lyft, you can still earn money while you are commuting to your office. You can do so through Waze carpool and Scoop apps which pay around 0.5 per mile you drive your fellow working people to their offices on your way.
  5. Becoming an angel investor: Keeping the basic rule of not actively participating in the passive income earning activity, if you like a particular company that you believe in then you can invest in it. You have to be a silent partner though only contributing money. You cannot actively participate in any decision-making activities which will be considered a conflict of interest to your employer and also against the immigration laws.
  6. Gambling: As the name suggests, you are gambling your hard-earned money away which we do not recommend, but if you win money through gambling, it is not considered illegal. Keep in mind you might also lose money as your chance of winning cash is very thin(Casinos also do have a saying that “The house always wins”). But laws vary for each state for online gambling. Check before you get into it.
  7. Win money in a lottery: If your stars are aligned right on the day you bought your lottery ticket(which is not a suggested way to earn steady income) then who knows you could win millions and yes, it is legal to win money through lottery though you will have to pay taxes just like any other way mentioned in here to earn money.
  8. Gifts from friends and relatives: You can receive gifts from relatives for small acts of kindness like babysitting for a day, pet-walking/caring, helping out with gardening, gift cards or cash during holidays, etc. They can gift up to $15,000 tax-free and after that, it is taxed as per your current state’s law.
  9. Pursuing a hobby: You can pursue a hobby like playing an instrument, writing a blog, gardening, or anything for that matter but it should not be with the intention to earn money. If you receive money as a gift once in a while, like for taking care of a pet of your friends, or cleaning your neighbor’s garden and they decided to compliment you with an Amazon gift card or you wrote a complimentary blog post for a friend who decided to gift an Amazon card or treat you to dinner is fine. But if you set up affiliates(to earn money), freelance actively to write posts, or moonlight (working for another employer while you are working full-time for another) it will be considered illegal. It can in the future affect your immigration processes like applying for a Green card, etc. 
  10. Incidental money: This is the kind of money that we talked about previously like selling something or lending a hand once in a while like selling your phone on eBay,  FB MarketPlace, or Poshmark. Selling your old car or your residential home, or anything that did pay you to sell for just one time. Something that did not need your active attention or intention over a long period that affects your primary job is fine. 

If you ask my preferred way of earning passive income on H1B, it has to be Investing. It is because it is very transparent that can make you some steady money which will help it to grow and beat inflation as long as you do it right and keep learning more. 

You can pursue hobbies and skills that keep you active and connected with other like-minded people, you can also rent out a room in your primary residence or car. But managing multiple assets “actively” is illegal or comes in a gray area that needs a visit to the immigration attorney’s office. So please be mindful of the laws of your state and IRS before getting into them.

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Author Bio: Madhuri Gumma is a full-time Software Engineer at Microsoft and a blogger. She writes a financial & lifestyle blog called Indian Diaries Abroad.