So someone I know started selling on eBay, we live in the US. Her visa does not allow her to work, so instead, she decided to try making money online.

She has made about $1000 in 3 months. With A LOT OF work. I don't think it's even worth it. Basically 9 hours a day of research/customer handling/etc.

I'm worried about the legal issues. Is it considered 'work' as the type not allowed by visa?

I don't want some major trouble for making pennies. Are there other ways for someone with a work-restricted visa to make money while living in the US without going afoul of the law?


Income generated from online sales is not considered "passive income", so you need to be authorized to work in the U.S. Those without work authorization can acquire passive income (through investments, lending, competition/contest earnings, etc.)

In order to sell products on eBay (the description you've given leads me to believe that this is operated as a business), you need to be authorized to work in the U.S., and register a business.


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    And as to the consequences, a conviction for tax fraud, deportation from the U.S., and a permanent ban from reentering the U.S., all are possible. – ChrisInEdmonton Aug 12 '14 at 21:43
  • The second link I posted "Become a business, not just a seller" has some great information for registering a business – Noah Aug 12 '14 at 21:55
  • RE: Using your eBay account :: If the other person is being paid (by you), then you are aiding and abetting an unauthorized worker in the U.S., and that is a felony. RE: Business vs Self-Employed... Please see the links I posted. They're there for your reference and benefit – Noah Aug 13 '14 at 1:43
  • i guess best thing to do is not to do anything. :( ....no ebay for that person. – Muhammad Umer Aug 13 '14 at 1:48
  • ok i closed everything down...Good while it lasted. 3 months and 1k + lots of work.. good deal if that's all. – Muhammad Umer Aug 13 '14 at 3:47
and not paying any taxes on the income?

Are you planning to not pay taxes? Any time someone has income in the U.S., it is subject to U.S. taxes. You must file tax returns (and pay taxes if necessary) if you have income above a certain threshold, regardless of whether you're not authorized to work or not.

If you plan to intentionally not pay taxes, then that's a whole other matter from working without authorization.

Working without authorization is an immigration issue. It probably violates the conditions of your status, which will make you to automatically lose your status. That may or may not affect when you want to want to visit, immigrate to, or get other immigration benefits in the U.S. in the future; and at worst you may be deported. It's a complicated topic, but not really relevant for this site.

  • what is the thershold – Muhammad Umer Aug 12 '14 at 23:29
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    The income threshold for a single person under 65 to not be required to file taxes is $10,000 for 2014. However, this doesn't change the fact that the income threshold is $0 for earned income without authorization to work in the U.S. – Noah Aug 13 '14 at 1:29
  • can you give source for that thershold..as i read on paypal site that law requires them to provide information to irs if you earn about 20,000 $$.. – Muhammad Umer Aug 13 '14 at 1:42
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    @user102008 It's a reference to "Those who aren't authorized to work in the U.S. cannot legally have any earned income" – Noah Aug 13 '14 at 20:36

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