An F1 student can invest in the stock market and cryptocurrencies, as well as open Roth IRAs and contribute to 401(k) plans. However, all profits they make from stock trading must qualify as passive income for F1 students to retain their status as full-time students. As long as students have a Social Security number or a taxpayer identification number, they can invest in stocks and cryptocurrencies.
Studying and working in another country is an exciting prospect for students of any age. The opportunity to travel, learn a new language, and experience a different culture can be an unforgettable opportunity. An F1 student visa allows international students to study, work on-campus, and live in the U.S., as long as they are full-time students at an accredited academic institution.
However, apart from an on-campus job, F1 students might look for other ways to make money during their stay in the U.S. As a full-time resident, an F1 student can invest in stocks and cryptocurrencies to help supplement their income. This article will explain how an F1 student can begin investing and what limitations they must follow to avoid jeopardizing their visa.
What is an F1 student visa?
The F1 student visa is a type of visa that allows international students to stay in the U.S. as full-time students at an accredited college, university, seminary, academic high school, other academic institution, or language training program.
As an F1 visa holder, you can study at a school accredited by the U.S. government, take part in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), be employed on campus, or work as a research assistant.
F1 students are not considered citizens or permanent residents.
Can F1 visa holders invest in the stock market?
Students with an F1 visa are allowed to invest in the stock market, as well as buy and sell stocks. As long as the trading qualifies as passive income, it is completely legal for students to invest in stocks or stock-related investments.
However, since they are in the U.S. as full-time students, they are not allowed to invest in the stock market full time. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines “full-time” as “participat[ing] in the activity for more than 500 hours during the tax year.” As long as they don’t exceed this time, an F1 student can participate in the stock market.
How to invest as an F1 student
To trade stocks in the U.S., you need to have a Social Security number. A Social Security number is necessary for IRS tax purposes to calculate the stock-related capital gains tax you owe from any profits you make selling stocks.
You can apply for a Social Security number at a Social Security Administration office using your current school status, an offer letter from an on-campus job, a recent pay stub, and the I-20 or I-94 documents. Once you have a Social Security number, you can then open a stock brokerage account, and begin making investments and trading.
Can F1 students invest in Bitcoin?
F1 students are allowed to buy and sell all forms of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and more. There is no law preventing F1 visa students from investing in cryptocurrencies. As with stock trading, however, you must report any money you make trading cryptocurrency to the IRS.
Can F1 students invest in Robinhood?
F1 students can invest money in Robinhood, as well as other trading platforms. However, as of May 2022, there are sanctions by the Office of Foreign Assets Control for U.S. Citizens under the Patriot Act prohibiting investing by permanent residents and citizens of certain countries. These include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, the Crimea region of Ukraine, as well as funds transfers from many Russian banks.
That being said, Robinhood allows for more than just commission-free stock trading. The platform also offers users the chance to buy, sell, or trade options, ETFs, or cryptocurrencies. It also provides a simple user interface that many beginning investors may find preferable.
Investing limits for F1 students
As stated above, F1 students are allowed to invest as much money as they’d like in the stock market, as long as trading remains a passive income activity. If they attempt to participate in trading full-time, they will no longer qualify as a full-time student, which might put their visa status in jeopardy.
There is no maximum or minimum amount students can invest in stocks. Some brokerage accounts have limits as to how much you can invest in a given day or week. Otherwise, the government does not restrict how much students invest in stocks.
Can F1 students day trade?
F1 students are allowed to day trade, which is similar to scalping. However, as with investing in general, students cannot day trade more than 500 hours per year. Again, as with other forms of investments, the profits made from day trading must qualify as passive income.
For example, Robinhood, which is one of the more popular stock brokerage services, allows users to make a maximum of three day trades in a five-day trading period unless they have a portfolio value of at least $25,000.
Paying for stock dividends
International students with an F1 visa are subject to the same tax rules as U.S. citizens on dividends or any other type of stock-related capital gains as long as they meet the residency requirement of 183 days. The current tax rates are 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your tax bracket.
If you are in the U.S. for less than 183 days, even if you hold an F1 visa, you will be subject to the same tax rules that apply to non-U.S. citizens. This means you’ll have to pay a tax rate of 30% on dividends. However, this rate could be lower depending on the treaty between your home country and the U.S.
Can F1 students invest in retirement accounts?
If you prefer not to engage in the risks of stock trading, you can also open a retirement account as an F1 student.
F1 students can open a Roth IRA. Any U.S. taxpayer is allowed to open one as long as they have taxable compensation and meet the Modified Adjusted Gross Income limitation. If you leave the U.S. and want to take money from your Roth IRA with you, you may run into some tax penalties, like paying income taxes.
Anyone with a Roth IRA, regardless of whether they are a U.S. citizen or not, is subject to redistribution restrictions on their account should they attempt to take the earnings out before the account has been qualified. This means that it’s been open for at least five years, and the account holder has aged past 59 1/2 years.
You don’t have to be an American citizen to participate in a 401(k) plan — F1 students can have one as long as their on-campus employer provides it. All you need is a Social Security number or a taxpayer identification number to open a 401(k) account.
However, if you are only able to contribute small amounts to the account, or you only plan to be in the U.S. for a short period of time, it might not be worth contributing due to IRS tax regulations.
- The F1 student visa is a type of visa that allows international students to stay in the United States as full-time students at an accredited educational program. These programs can include a college, university, seminary, academic high school, other academic institution, or language training program.
- Students with an F1 visa are allowed to invest in the stock market and buy and sell stocks.
- Any money the student makes from stocks must qualify as passive income. This means F1 students cannot invest in the stock market on a full-time basis.
- As long as the F1 student meets the 183-day residency requirement, they are subject to the same tax rules on dividends or any other type of stock-related capital gains as U.S. citizens.
- F1 students are allowed to buy and sell all forms of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and more.
- You can also open a Roth IRA or contribute to a 401(k) as an F1 student.
View Article Sources
- Students and Employment — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Student Visa — U.S. Department of State | Bureau of Consular Affairs
- How To Invest In The Stock Market: 8 Basic Concepts — SuperMoney
- Beginner’s Guide to Investing — SuperMoney
- Five Key Principles Of Smart Investing — SuperMoney
- How To Buy Stocks With a Debit Card — SuperMoney
- How to Invest in Index Funds — SuperMoney
- Best Brokerages | May 2022 — SuperMoney