I know the international students (F1-visa) are limited when it comes to work (max 20 hours/week on campus job).

However, are they allowed to have other sources of income in US? Is renting his/her apartment a legal way to earn income?


  • 1
    I don't know the answer to the main question, but how would the F1 student obtain an apartment to rent out? I doubt a student would be able to afford to purchase an apartment (and possibly not be allowed to because of their international status), and it's overwhelmingly common for agreements in the United States to prohibit tenants from subrenting the premises to other tenants. Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 2:29
  • 2
    @JustinLardinois: It may be very common for agreements to say that sublets are prohibited, but in some states, the law says that any such agreement is invalid and unenforceable. See for example this fact sheet on sublet law in New York State, which generally says that in a building with at least 4 units, the landlord is obligated to allow sublets as long as certain procedures are followed. Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 1:44
  • @JustinLardinois it's true that most students can't afford to buy apartments, but many rich ones can. These are also more likely to be the ones who can afford to study abroad. They are unlikely to be in need of rental income, however.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 7:15
  • @JustinLardinois There are plenty of students on F1 visas who are loaded and able to purchase an apartment. F1 visa students are more affluent on average that U.S. students and the average U.S. student has an income in low six figures in U.S. $ per year. I went to college with students on F1 visas who had dozens of servants and multiple estates at home.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 23:02
  • 1
    @ohwilleke "the average U.S. student has an income in low six figures in U.S. $ per year" Umm, what? Where? Most US students I know have no income and take on debt in the range of low to mid 5 figures per year.
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 22:16

2 Answers 2


To my understanding, foreigners can own real properties in the United States. Therefore, they can legally rent out for a profit as income (notice legally). When those foreigners (aliens) study in the United States on F-1 Visa, I believe, they can still rent out their real properties pursuant to applicable laws. And it's not considered as employment as far as USCIS is concerned, because based on USCIS Definition of employment,

The term employment means any service or labor performed by an employee for an employer within the United States, including service or labor performed on a vessel or aircraft that has arrived in the United States and has been inspected, or otherwise included within the provisions of the Anti-Reflagging Act codified at 46 U.S.C. 8704, but not including duties performed by nonimmigrant crewmen defined in sections 101(a)(10) and (a)(15)(D) of the Act. However, employment does not include casual employment by individuals who provide domestic service in a private home that is sporadic, irregular or intermittent;

Similarly, subletting should be acceptable as long as it's legal pursuant to applicable laws. For example, subletting usually needs the approval of the property owner. Otherwise, subletting illegally will negatively impact the good standing F-1 status.

P.S. I am NOT attorney. This post is NOT legal advice.


i would like to express my two cents. if you check out SCHEDULE E (Form 1040). you would realize, if you own the property, then the rental income is passive income which is not employment, it would be legal for your F1 visa. how to operate: fill up this form, have a number then fill in line 18 in the 1040NR. and you will be all set. but i am not sure if you rent the place and sublet. it would be hard to fill this form.

  • There are a lot more technicalities involved, and this ignores or glosses over them, to the extent that it is misleading.
    – user4657
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 3:38

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