Can I do freelance work on h1b visa?
Freelance work on h1b visa – As globalization continues to gather momentum and the demand for highly skilled foreign workers grows, the United States sees a surge in the popularity of freelance work as a form of employment. But as far as the H-1B visa is concerned, the question lingers: Can freelance work be pursued while on an H-1B visa?
The H-1B visa, a nonimmigrant visa, permits U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. The ambit of these occupations spans architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts.
The H-1B visa program is fashioned to assist U.S. employers in bridging the gap created by skill shortages in the domestic workforce, making it one of the most popular work visas in the United States. However, it is imperative to comprehend that the visa is linked to the employer, implying that the foreign worker can only work for the sponsoring employer and cannot work for themselves or for another employer.
The nature of freelance work, which typically involves self-employment or working for multiple clients, is clearly incongruent with the H-1B visa. The visa requires the foreign worker to be employed by the sponsoring employer in a specific specialty occupation and mandates that the employer-employee relationship exists throughout the duration of the visa. This requirement indicates that the employer must have complete control over the employee’s work and how it is executed.
If a foreign worker desires to pursue freelance work, they would need to acquire a different visa category that permits self-employment, such as the E-2 or O-1 visa. These visas mandate that the applicant demonstrates extraordinary ability in their field or that they are investing a significant amount of capital in a U.S. business.
Furthermore, if an H-1B visa holder is caught doing freelance work, they are liable to be out of status, leading to deportation, a bar from returning to the United States, or other immigration penalties.
However, there are certain circumstances in which a foreign worker on an H-1B visa may be allowed to engage in some freelance work. For instance, if the foreign worker is working on a project that is linked to their specialty occupation and that has been approved by their sponsoring employer, they may be authorized to pursue freelance work on the side, provided it does not interfere with their employment with the sponsoring employer.
In addition, if the foreign worker wishes to perform volunteer work, they may be authorized to do so as long as it is not related to their specialty occupation and does not involve remuneration. It is crucial to consult an immigration attorney to ensure that the work being undertaken is allowed under the terms of the H-1B visa.
In conclusion, though freelance work on an H-1B visa is technically feasible, it is not a recommended option. The H-1B visa is designed for foreign workers to work in a specific specialty occupation for a sponsoring employer, and self-employment or working for multiple clients is not authorized. If a foreign worker wishes to pursue freelance work, they should consider obtaining a different visa category that permits self-employment or seek counsel from an immigration attorney to explore their options.