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I am an international graduate student under F1 visa in the USA. If I perform some work outside the USA, should that work be approved by the USCIS?

On http://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment/ I read that:

Off-campus work authorization requires case-by-case approval from USCIS. Approval is not based on the student's choice of employer.

but I wonder whether it only concerns work in the USA.

  • Are you asking about work you perform remotely while you are in the U.S.? Or are you asking about work you perform while you are outside the U.S.? – user102008 Oct 26 '14 at 0:15
  • @user102008 Actually I am interested in both. – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 26 '14 at 0:26
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You said in comments that you wanted to know about both if you are inside the U.S. and outside.

If you are outside the U.S., you do not have a U.S. immigration status. You only have a status while in the U.S. Since you are not in F1 status, you are not subject to the conditions of F1 status, and you cannot "violate" a status you do not have. You may have a visa stamp in your passport, but that is just permission to travel to the U.S. in the future.

If you are inside the U.S. and are asking about working remotely for a foreign employer, as Karlson says, there is some debate an disagreement about this.

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Ye Standard Disclaimer: IANAL. Please consult one before doing this.

From the little documentation I was able to find online regarding the subject there appears to be supporters of both sides of the debate.

From the Nation of Immigrators there is a debate going on regarding this particular subject, which if one follows the 3 conditions listed is violated you will fail the status compliance test:

  1. total annual earnings from such services is less than $3,000;
  2. the nonresident alien is physically present in the United States for not more than 90 days in the year;
  3. the services are performed under contract with a nonresident alien individual, foreign partnership or foreign corporation.

and likely be in violation of the condition of prior authorization required. Further in the same discussion there are possible ways listed that may allow you to do exactly what you're asking about however the debate ends with:

The real question then is not whether a foreign employer may employ a foreign citizen working in her American home without a work visa but WWTCD (What would the courts do)?

So as far I can tell there are still open questions w.r.t. this situation, which means that your best course of action is to talk to a lawyer or better yet several regarding this situation.

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