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When I was in my native country, I was getting paid for showing Google ads on my website. After I came to the USA, I stopped ads on the website because I'm an F1 student and I'm not allowed to work in the USA.

Since the website is related to personal interests, I continued posting content without any ads, and didn't get any income.

Recently, I met a woman who is a US citizen, a classmate, and now my girlfriend. Since she can work in the USA, she opened an account with her email address and SSN number in the Google Adsense. I post the content on the website, and the money is going into her account.

She spends the whole amount to watch movies or buying products for both of us; the amount is around $300 to $500 per month.

Is this earning under her name and social security number, but on my website, a problem?

  • If she's spending the whole amount there's going to be a big problem come tax time! – Loren Pechtel Oct 24 '16 at 18:32
  • This regulation seems really outdated and makes no sense. Though you're physically in the US, you're really not "working" there and not bringing any potential negative impact to their economy whatsoever. The website was set up before you entered, the account is in your native country, and the target audience are likely mostly not Americans... I guess that's the situation with a lot of laws though. They adapt slowly. – xji Oct 25 '16 at 7:19
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Technically this shouldn't be allowed, but it is very unlikely that authorities will notice it, especially since the earnings are relatively low. In fact, it sounds like she is not transferring any funds from these earnings to you, which is the key aspect of this set-up that makes it unlikely for you to get in trouble. Bear in mind that your girlfriend will have to report this income when she files taxes.

It shouldn't be allowed because you are still doing the work, and it's as if you are employed by your girlfriend. Both of you might be breaking some rule (as she should technically declare herself as a business/employer), but I couldn't imagine someone to care enough to go after you (just like no-one goes after students who get compensated for baby-sitting or yard work, etc.)

F-1 students cannot earn any funds whatsoever (no freelancing, no online shops, no sale of any products through a retailer, even earning funds abroad while physically in the US is not permitted), unless you obtain CPT (Curriculum Practical Training) or OPT (Optional Practical Training).

Web development is a very marketable skill and my advice to you is to apply for Web/software development internships after your first year of studies in the US by getting the CPT authorization - this way you will earn a lot more money and you wouldn't be breaking any laws. If you are close to graduating, you may continue to earn from your projects under your own name when you receive the OPT authorization (see F-1 Students and Entrepreneurship on https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/training-opportunities-in-the-united-states)

Finally, every school in the US has staff members who are specifically trained to guide international students, so you should check in with your school about your options.

Source: I've been an international student in the US for 8 years now and counting...

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