Earlier this month I DJed for an event organized by a Student Group in my university. The event took place on-campus, a few days after the term officially started (i.e. a few days after the first day of class). In order to get paid (a nominal fee to maintain my turntables, cables, etc.) the student group asked me to fill an official Request for Payment, which goes through the finance department of my university, which in turn asked me for my W-9 or Social Security number as the Request for Payment considers me as a vendor / professional service provider.

I am an international graduate student in the same university under F1 visa. Is getting paid given those circumstances allowed by my F1 visa?

1 Answer 1


You need to get an employment authorization document (a.k.a. EAD, Form I-766, "work permit"), for that you need to talk to your school's international students' office. They'll add the appropriate note to your immigration paperwork and it will be counted as part of your 20hrs/week on-campus employment. That is, of course, if the type of job is qualified.

The problem is not getting paid, the problem is actually performing the work. Without EAD you're not allowed to work in the US, and by doing so you violated the conditions of your visa.

  • 1
    Well, if you're not getting paid, wouldn't that be volunteering instead of work? Is that forbidden too?
    – Gala
    Oct 1, 2014 at 13:51
  • @Gala you cannot volunteer to a work that would otherwise be paid for. Being paid or not is irrelevant to the question of whether you were allowed to do the job or not. You can only volunteer where if you hadn't - there wouldn't someone else who would do it for a pay. I.e.: volunteer at a registered non-profit where everyone is volunteering.
    – littleadv
    Oct 1, 2014 at 15:44
  • I'm not sure whether this is correct. If the school thought he was working, and that the payment was wages, I think there'd be much more paperwork than a W-9. W-9 is often used for other types of payments, such as expense reimbursements or honoraria, which in many cases can legally be made to someone not permitted to work in the US. Both of those could fit the situation here. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the OP has violated his visa. Oct 6, 2014 at 0:25
  • @Nate W9 is used in the US for paying contractors, which is what is the case here. He was not employed by the school, he was contracted for a specific task.
    – littleadv
    Oct 6, 2014 at 0:46

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