Can an H1B Visa Holder Drive for Uber?

Posted by Frank Gogol

It’s common for H1B visa holders to want another source of income aside from the job their work visa covers. The cost of living can be high in the U.S., especially in major cities, and one source of income may not be enough to get by. Since driving for ridesharing service Uber is one of the simplest and most easily accessible ways to earn income in the United States, many H1B visa holders wonder if they are allowed to drive for Uber.

However, the restrictions placed on the H1B visa do not allow H1B visa holders to drive for Uber. Read on to find out why.

What Is Uber?

Uber is a ridesharing service that allows individuals who have downloaded the Uber app to hire an on-demand private driver. Uber offers a number of different services, including:

  • UberX, a taxi service which allows riders to hire a private car.
  • UberPool, a cheaper option in which riders can share a ride with others.
  • UberBlack, which allows riders to hire a private luxury vehicle.
  • UberEats, a service in which you can hire a driver to deliver food to your home.

Uber’s taxi service works like this: Riders open the app and input the location they would like to be picked up and their destination. They are then matched with a driver who meets them at the pickup location and drives them to the destination. The fee is on a per-mile basis.

What Are the Work Requirements for Uber?

You need more than just a car and a license to drive for Uber. Uber has a number of minimum requirements regarding the type of vehicle, how old it is, and more. You must:

  • Be a minimum of 21 years old
  • Have had a U.S. driver’s license for a minimum of 1 year, or 3 years if you are under age 23
  • Have a vehicle that has four doors and is less than 10 years old (however, in some cities your car can be up to 15 years old)
  • Have in-state auto insurance registered in your name
  • Have an in-state driver’s license
  • Have in-state license plates with up-to-date registration
  • Have a Social Security number
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass a check of your driving record

What Is an H1B Visa?

The H1B visa is an employment-based visa that allows U.S. employers to hire qualified foreign workers for specialty occupations. Specialty occupations are any occupations that require a Bachelor’s degree at a minimum or the application of “specialized knowledge.”

Only 85,000 total H1B visas are granted each year, so obtaining an H1B visa requires a U.S. sponsor and a job offer. Then you must get selected in the H1B visa lottery. H1B visas are valid for 3 years and can be renewed for another 3 years afterward.

Keep in mind that with an H1B your visa status is tied to your specific occupation. You are allowed to work in the U.S. in that capacity, but that doesn’t mean you can work in any capacity.

Can an H1B Visa Holder Get a SSN?

Yes, H1B visa holders can get a Social Security Number. In fact, to legally work in the U.S. you MUST have a SSN.

To get a SSN, fill out a Social Security Card application (Form SS-5) and submit it to your local Social Security Administration office along with a Form I-551, a Form I-94, and your work permit card from the Department of Homeland Security. You’ll then get a receipt, and your Social Security Card will come in the mail in 2-3 weeks.

What Are the Work Restrictions for H1B Visas?

Since the H1B visa is an employment-based visa, there are a number of restrictions on the kind of income you can earn in the U.S. First, H1B visas are employer-specific, so they permit you to legally work in the U.S. for one employer only—your H1B sponsor. If you want to work in the U.S. for any other employer then you have to file a new H1B petition, and you cannot start working for the new employer until the new petition is approved.

Also, the spouse and dependents of the H1B visa holder are not legally permitted to work in the U.S. unless specifically authorized by the USCIS.

So, Can You Drive for Uber on an H1B Visa?

No, H1B visa holders cannot become Uber drivers because of the employment restrictions on H1B visas. While H1B visa holders can meet all of Uber’s requirements (like having a certain type of car, a license, and a SSN), driving for Uber would violate the terms of their H1B visa.

The point of the H1B visa is to allow companies to hire foreign workers when there are no American-citizen candidates available. To hire a foreign worker on an H1B, employers must prove to the USCIS that they tried to hire an American candidate and could not find one with comparable qualifications. There are plenty of American candidates to drive for Uber and driving doesn’t require “specialized knowledge,” so it’s not an occupation that is qualified for H1B sponsorship.

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Conclusion

If your visa is employer-specific, then you can’t drive for Uber in the U.S. This puts some H1B visa holders who aren’t earning enough income from their job to cover the cost of living in a difficult position.

It is possible to work two jobs on an H1B visa, but each job requires its own H1B petition and sponsor. While you won’t have to enter the H1B visa lottery again if you do get a second job offer and visa sponsor, you cannot start working in the new position until the petition is approved.

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