A student is in the USA on a student F1 visa. While he/she is studying can they make videos and send them to their parents/siblings in their home country so that they(parents/siblings) can upload them on their own channel? This would mean they(parents/siblings) would get paid for those videos from youtube while they are in their home country while the person staying here in USA is making those videos but isnt uploading them from the USA nor uploading them to his own youtube channel? Ofcourse their parents/siblings are liable for taxes in the home country which they will pay.

EDIT: (12/13/2017)
What if the visa holder uploads them on youtube and does not monetize them yet? Then when he/she gets greencard or citizen (if); they can choose to do whatever they wish. Because then the visa holder will not be earning any compensation at all for their videos right?

  • I think the pertinent question is whether the student is being paid for the work or not. Dec 11, 2017 at 3:16
  • The more pertinent question is if this is taking away a job from an American worker, if not then I doubt there would be any immigration consequences.
    – nikhil
    Dec 14, 2017 at 5:40
  • @RichardChambers That is not the question. What happens outside of USA is none of their business. The only thing they can ask is if the person was earning money from a USA employer or not.
    – SamT01
    Mar 21, 2019 at 13:22
  • @SamT01 from what I have read the US government is very interested in what happens outside of the USA. Earning money from activities in the US would seem to be the important question, whether the money earned comes from outside of the US or not. And frankly with all the terrorism and social media news, I would think uploading videos could trigger an investigation. Mar 21, 2019 at 14:13
  • So two things to happen for the DHS to know if I am doing work, #1 they should be able to see the work, #2 they should be able to see the payment. Unless they can see both they can’t claim anyone has been working. And what the h are you talking about US government for? We were talking about a visa and it’s terms. And then in your last sentence you go off the deep end don’t you? Boy you need to learn how to obfuscate, this was a poor attempt.
    – SamT01
    Mar 22, 2019 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


This is one of those tricky legal questions and depends on the terms of the F1 Visa and how closely Immigration and the IRS are looking at the visa holder, and really comes down to your risk tolerance. If the visa merely states that the visa holder is not allowed to work in the US for a US employer, then the visa holder seems to be in the clear, as she is working for herself or her family business. If the visa disallows any and all income-producing activity, she may have a problem, as even if her family is not sending her a share of the profits now, she is doing work that is producing income, and ICE & IRS would both argue that there is a presumption she will benefit from that work in the future. It also depends on the content of the videos. If she is sending raw footage of her tourism and daily activities, and a family member is editing those videos to create a specific kind of content, she can argue that she is merely having fun, sharing videos with family and friends, and releasing her ownership of the videos to anyone who wants to use the content for another purpose - but she should document this release in advance, not after the fact. Try doing a search on F1 Visa holders who also own businesses outside the US; I'm sure this has come up a lot in the past.

  • I don't think there is any such "income producing activity" prohibition. Then you could argue that my work done towards my Masters degree is also "income producing activity" since I may not be paid today, but I will get paid tomorrow because of it!
    – SamT01
    Mar 21, 2019 at 13:21

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