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Am I allowed to help in my family business while I am attending a college on student visa

Cambridge, MA |

I am planning to apply for Student Visa for USA . My parents who live in USA have their own business. I am wondering if I will be allowed to help in family business while my status in USA is a student.

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Attorney answers 3


F-1 students are not authorized to work. There are some exceptions for certain on-campus employment of 20 hours or less per week. There is also an economic hardship exception but that would require you to be a student for a full academic year and you would have to apply for the USCIS for an authorization. Consult an immigration attorney who will explain to you implications and requirements of working outside these parameters.

Viera Buzgova (512) 476-7163. The information above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advice specific to your case.


When you say help -- you mean work and get paid right? Off campus employment is not a "given" with a student visa. The rules vary -- you are talking about an F-1 student visa and not a J-1 exchange student program I would guess.

Better meet with a qualified attorney to see if/when you can get employment authorization from USCIS. Even if you want to "help" on a volunteer basis there are still rules to follow if you are going to stay in Immigration's good graces.

Drew Law Office, PLLC - Bedford, NH (603) 644-3739: Using this service does not create an attorney/client relationship and the information posted here is not confidential or privileged legal advice. The answers given here are for general information only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.



By help I mean just help and not getting paid. Since it's family I will be with them in my free time at the business place and helping them where ever needed but I won't be taking any cash money or being on payroll. Since they will be supporting my education I guess at least I can help them.

Randall Drew

Randall Drew


That sounds like a very responsible approach. Logically, you would think that -- if you aren't getting paid it shouldn't be considered "working". There are rules about what being compensated for working means even if you are not being paid a salary. You can be considered "employed" if you are receiving things like room and board or other compensation (paying your tuition for example). However, those rules are intended to cover things that an employer might provide in return for your help. Your parents it could be argued -- were going to provide you those things anyway (tuition, room & board, etc...) so they really aren't compensating you for work. I am not trying to answer your question exactly -- but rather show that there are some complicated rules to consider. It would be worth your time to sit down with a qualified attorney to make sure you can help your parents with their business in a way that does not violate the rules about working. I think you will be able to manage it -- but have an attorney make sure. It shouldn't cost you very much to review your case and preserving your status is well worth it.


Helping on a regular basis would be considered employment and would most likely constitute a violation of your student status.

Gregory Romanovsky, Esq.
12 Marshall Street
Boston, MA 02108

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