An H1B Visa is a temporary work Visa that allows U.S.-based employers to hire foreign workers for between one and six years at a time. However, the H1B Visa program technically only allows you to work for the company that employs you. However, some H1B employers allow their Visa-holding employees to “moonlight” on the side and make supplemental income.
So how can you make more money on a H1B visa? As long as your employer approves, you can make extra money on an H1B Visa by doing side jobs such as coding, web development, teaching a foreign language, selling products online, investing in stocks, and even making art. As long as you follow the rules, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Today, I’m going to show you some of the most popular money-making methods used by H1B Visa holders! Remember that many of these methods are employer-specific, and your ability to do them will depend on the contract you signed with your H1B employer. If they do not approve of your “moonlighting” activities, then they could revoke your work Visa.
10 Ways To Make Side Money On A H1B Visa
Making side money on an H1B Visa is a very heavily-debated topic. Technically, the Visa only allows you to work for a specific employer. You’re not permitted to go “job hunting” or form a company until you’ve been granted a Green Card or permanent U.S. citizenship.
Most employers have strict, detailed contracts that essentially act as a non-compete form. This prevents the worker from leaving to work with another company. Since H1B Visa holders aren’t technically U.S. citizens, they also don’t have the same work rights and may be paid considerably less than a citizen.
U.S. companies typically hire H1B Visa holders in order to get short-term, low-cost labor. In return, the Visa holder gets to go back to their home country with the knowledge and skills on their resume that they can then use to get a better-paying job.
However, the downside of being an H1B employee is that you may not be paid enough to cover your bills, food, and transportation. Since you’re not allowed to quit and find another job, it may put you in a hard situation.
Moonlighting and performing side jobs tend to be a grey area when it comes to H1B regulation. Officially, you’re not allowed to start a side company. However, many H1B employees get “under-the-table” side jobs that pay them cash or have a side hobby (such as art) that allows them to make some extra money.
Below, I’m going to give you an in-depth look at the top ten ways to make extra money while you’re working on an H1B Visa in the United States. Remember to always check with your employer before engaging in these activities. You never want to risk losing your Visa by violating your company’s terms and conditions.
#1- Website Development
Building websites for small businesses or your friends can be a great way to make some extra money on the side! You can claim that website development is a hobby or something that you’re doing to practice a skill. As long as you’re not publicly marketing your services or trying to form a company, then you’re well within your rights to build a website for anybody.
The main distinction is that you’ll be “accepting donations” for your work, not “selling your services.” That being said, you’ll probably want to stick to building small personal sites for individuals or mom-and-pops-style businesses. These smaller contracts can often be paid in cash and let you keep your head low so you don’t get too much attention.
These apps allow you to select from a variety of pre-made website themes. All you’ll need to do is create the content for the site. You can add images, write some articles, pages, and blog posts, and select a color palette that compliments the site as a whole.
You can easily build a 5-page website in a couple of days in your free time and charge anywhere from $150-$750 depending on who the client is and how much money they’re working with. If it’s a local store, you might even be able to negotiate a deal for store credit, which will ensure that you’re within your H1B Visa regulations.
#2- Programming and Software Development
Programming and software development work are in very high demand. The great thing about this skillset is that you don’t need a college degree or a fancy certification, either. You can learn everything that you need to know for free on the internet or by taking classes on an online education platform such as Udemy.
While your H1B Visa won’t allow you to get a secondary “job” as a programmer, you can list your services on freelance sites such as Fiverr or Upwork. There are plenty of small companies all over the world who need pieces of software developed for a fair price.
If you want to avoid the limelight, then you may also consider finding contracts through online forums instead of the more popular freelance sites. Forums provide you with a little bit more anonymity, so you won’t have to worry about your employer finding a Fiverr account linked back to your name.
Another more “black-hat” option would be to list your software development services on the dark web. The dark web is invisible, and it’s almost impossible to trace users. Technically, you could route your internet traffic through your home country and claim any income as “passive income from existing revenue streams.”
#3- Teach A Foreign Language
One of the best parts of being from a foreign country is that you’re fluent in a second language! Compared to most other Western countries, the United States has a relatively low percentage of bi-lingual citizens. However, most students are required to take a second language in school, and many more adults simply want to learn another language to expand their cultural horizons.
All you need is to have a bit of patience, a good understanding of the English language, and some spare time in the evenings or weekends. You can make some decent side money by teaching others how to speak, read, and write in your own language.
One of the best things about language tutoring is that most clients pay per session and pay in cash. To get clients, you can participate in a local foreign language club or group where you’ll be able to meet some people who are interested in secondary languages. You can also create a small poster and pin it up on your neighborhood bulletin board.
By using a nickname or a pseudonym, you typically won’t have to worry about your employer finding out about your side job. If anybody tries to say anything to you about it, you can just tell whoever is inquiring that you’re assisting them for free and that linguistics is a “hobby.”
Additionally, your H1B employer may even be willing to pay you extra for teaching other company employees a second language!
#4- Become A Math Tutor
If you’re a math wiz, then you could consider offering a tutoring service to local high school and college students in your area. In order to get some clients, your best bet is to get a few small business cards made and hand them out to students you see working in a cafe or library.
In order to stay within your H1B Visa regulations, you can include on the card that you only accept donations. Most of the people who ask for your assistance will be willing to provide you with compensation, especially if you’re a good tutor who really works with them!
Additionally, you could also tutor students online! By participating in student boards and online educational forums, you’ll be putting yourself right in front of people who may message you and ask you for tutoring services!
#5- Sell Products On Amazon Or eBay
While you won’t be able to create a full-time business on Amazon or eBay (since you need a Green Card to form a company), you can re-sell items on these sites. There’s nothing in your H1B contract saying that you can’t sell things online, so as long as you’re not trying to make a business out of it, then you have nothing to worry about!
One of the easiest ways to start with this method of making money is to just re-sell items that you find at thrift shops or that you get a good deal on. For instance, if you find an old box of Hot Wheels toy cars or old Pokemon cards at Goodwill, you might be able to sell them for a great profit on eBay. Collectors often pay top-dollar for rare, hard-to-find memorabilia.
You may even strike it rich! There have been some stories of people finding old trading cards or classic toys at yard sales that go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars online. Most of the time, people only pay a few dollars for the item as the seller or thrift shop doesn’t know the collectible’s true value.
#6- Do Side Jobs Around The Neighborhood
While you technically can’t advertise or function as an official business, many H1B Visa holders are able to make some side money by doing small jobs around their neighborhood or community. Even if you don’t accept money for your services, you may be able to exchange services for other valuable things.
For instance, if the apartment that you’re staying in needs some minor repairs or paintwork, then you could offer to do these things in exchange for free or reduced rent on your part. If you notice your elderly neighbor having trouble in her yard, offer to help her mow the lawn or pull her weeds. Most of the time, you’ll be compensated handsomely and can write the money off as a donation.
#7- Invest In Stocks With Questrade Or Robinhood
H1B regulations allow you to invest your money into the stock market as long as you continue to work with your H1B employer. This can provide an excellent way to create long-term wealth if you have a bit of patience and make informed decisions. As the recent Gamestop and AMC situation shows, there are also some opportunities to make short-term gains as well!
All you need to do is download a simple stock trading app such as Robinhood, Webull, or Questrade. Once your account is verified, you’ll be able to create a diverse portfolio of stocks and securities!
#8- Trade Bitcoin And Cryptocurrency
Bitcoin (BTC) exploded in the third quarter of 2020 and has continued to grow even more in the first quarter of 2021. It’s become so popular that even Wall Street hedge funds are starting to invest in the technology and are helping the cryptocurrency go “to the moon.”
The easiest platform for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency investing is probably Coinbase. Here, you’ll be able to invest in the main coins and several different “alt-coins” that represent tokens used by other small blockchain-based organizations.
However, if you want an even simpler way to invest in Bitcoin, then you can now buy BTC using Cash App!
#9- Model For Photographs, Art Classes, And Videos
If you’ve got some good looks, then you can become an art model! There are always fashion designers, artists, and small clothing lines that are looking for someone to model for their work. Usually, all you need to do is be willing to wear some clothes and stand still long enough to get some photographs done.
In order to get these jobs, your best bet is to DM the companies or designers on Instagram and tell them that you’re willing to model for free but that you accept donations. Not only is this a fun way to make some extra money, but you might become famous if the brand you work with blows up one day!
#10- Make And Sell Art
Making art is an excellent way to make some side cash. If anybody ever asks, you’re only making art because it’s a hobby. You can use social media or a personal website to promote your art and accept donations via Patreon.
Once you become more talented and start gaining some widespread recognition, you’ll eventually have people come up to you and ask if they can purchase your art pay you for the rights to use it in one of their own projects. The great thing about art is that most people pay for it in cash as well!