I'm an international student in US on F1 Visa. I just want to know if how legal is trading stocks on my visa status. I've found some posts on quora that say Trading is completely legal, but should not be on a daily basis. It's mentioned that trading should be only a passive source of income. Can someone clarify further ?

Thank you.


As an F1 student, I have been investing (and occasionally buying and selling within few weeks) for several years, and I have never had problems (of course I report to IRS gains/losses every year at tax time). On the other hand, the officer in charge of foreign students at my school advised me to not run ads on a website and make a profit. So, it seems to me that investing is perfectly legit for a F1 student, as it's not considered a business activity. That's obviously my personal understanding, you may want to speak with an immigration attorney to be on the safe side.

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    Investing for yourself is essentially considered being a customer. Investing for others is a business, which your visa may not permit. – keshlam Apr 25 '16 at 21:48
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    @keshlam, where does this answer say anything about investing for others? – user9822 Apr 26 '16 at 22:27
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    Didn't say it did. Just explaining the distinction being drawn.. – keshlam Apr 26 '16 at 22:38

It is absolutely legal. While studying on a F-1 you would typically be considered a non-resident alien for tax purposes. You can trade stocks, just like any other foreigner having an account with a US- or non-US based brokerage firm.

Make sure to account for profit made on dividends/capital gain when doing your US taxes. A software package provided by your university for doing taxes might not be adequate for this.

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You can buy and sell stocks, if you like. You'll have to pay taxes on any profits.

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    The OP asked about trading not investing! Just because you do something short term does not mean it is speculating. If you buy a stock and hold it for 10 years hoping it will be higher when you sell it in 10 years time, that is speculating not investing. – user9822 Apr 24 '16 at 1:10
  • @markdoony: We agree that we disagree on this one. Post your own answer, if you think you have better advice to offer. – keshlam Apr 24 '16 at 3:44
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    The whole point of this site is not to provide advice, it is to provide answers to questions, and you have not answered the question you have just provided your opinion. You have not provided any actual factual information regarding trading for a student on an F-1 Visa. In fact what you have provided should be a comment not an answer. – user9822 Apr 24 '16 at 5:57
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    If that's what you think, downvote it or flag it or bring this up on Meta. Or all three. You know how SE works. – keshlam Apr 24 '16 at 6:36

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