Can I work at a restaurant on the weekends, on my F-1 visa?
Hi. I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States, of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
My wife and I went out to dinner the other day, and I noticed that our waiter was someone who had consulted with me in the past. And I knew that that waiter was on an F-1 student visa, and it reminded me that there are a lot of rules regarding when an F-1 student visa holder can work. Basically if you're in the United States on an F-1 student visa, you can only work 20 hours a week on campus. Or you can work on a job in your industry, if you are going through the curricular practical training program (CPT). Other than that, you can't work on the side. You can't have a side hustle. You can't be working at a restaurant.
It was interesting. This person, that I had consulted with, told me that he had been working at this restaurant for four years. He said it ... On the side. And I think he might have forgotten that I know his immigration status. So he knows he's not supposed to be working. It's a clear violation of his F-1 visa. And I hope for heck that it doesn't come back and bite him in the butt, because it could hurt his chances later of getting an H-1B. He could be deemed to have been out of status for a really long time. The Trump Administration came out with a memo a couple of years ago that starts that clock, so he might have trouble getting a green card or getting an H-1B visa if he wants to. So it's a tricky situation. I know that a lot of times, international students are hurting for money. And it's also relatively easy to get a job at restaurants because restaurants usually play fast and loose with the paperwork regarding what you need to show to get a job.
So it's problematic. It's not a good idea. And you have to ask yourself is it worth it, for this little bit of side money, to work and to violate your visa? So it's an interesting question.
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Thanks a lot. Have a great day.