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I'm doing a PhD at a university in the United States. I am in dissertation status. I am continuing the PhD remotely from outside of the US for the foreseeable future. I am not a US citizen, so am on an F1 visa.

I would like to do some work. Not a lot--just consulting a few hours a week for experience. My advisor is supportive of this.

However, there's the legal question. Generally I would not be allowed to work on an F1 visa, and would need to apply for OPT. However, this law exists to protect US workers, so since I am not residing in the United States, it seems the purpose of the law would not apply in this case. Any work I would do is work that others outside the US could also do.

So my question: does the prohibition on F1 students working applies if they are living and working outside of the US?

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  • Are you trying to work "in" the US? Or in the country you live in? Sep 29, 2021 at 21:50
  • Either. Meaning I'd be interested both in doing consulting for US companies and non-US companies. Sep 30, 2021 at 10:17

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Here's what Northeastern University's Office of Global Services write:

Students physically working outside the U.S. do not require work authorization from the Office of Global Services. Authorization must be given for work that physically takes place within the U.S.

NOTE: If you are returning to the U.S. while working abroad or on international co-op to perform work for a short period (such as a business trip or conference), this would require authorization.

The same point is made in the answer to a question at the Expatriates SE. But I would still recommend double checking with your university's International Office that it applies to your situation before acting on it.

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