Can I work part time as an independent contractor driving for Uber while in H1B?


The short answer is that, making money as an Uber drive while on H1B (or pretty much any nonimmigrant status that does not provide unrestricted work authorization) would almost certainly be viewed as unauthorized employment. Still, this does provide an opportunity to exam this issue a bit more closely.

Ordinarily, a person in H1B status is only permitted to “work” for the H1B petitioning employer. Whether a particular activity is considered work under immigration law can be a grey area, and tends to be fact-specific; but, the general recommendation is that people in H1B status should take the conservative approach, as there can be serious consequences for engaging in unauthorized employment and violating their H1B status.

Still, there are a few key, general things to keep in mind when trying to determine whether an activity is permitted. In most situations, the most passive an activity is, the less likely it is to be considered work. For instance, if you buy a stock and later receive a dividend, this activity almost certainly would not be viewed as work.

Conversely, there are situations in which a person is not being paid at all, but still can be deemed to have engaged in unauthorized employment. For example, if you have a relative who owns a retail store, and you help manage the store but receive no payment, this still could be considered work.

Driving for Uber is providing a direct service for pay, and it is hard to imagine any immigration officer interpreting this activity as anything other than work. (30.Jan.2020)

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