Can we publish a book on Amazon KDP while on H1B?

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I've seen plenty of posts on this website where a lot of people will say that you are not allowed to publish books on Amazon. The answer will be that it's a violation of visa terms. But I'm unable to understand how so?

1. Wages from Amazon KDP are regarded as royalties so they give your form 1099-MISC
2. This does not classify as working for another employer. I still work primarily work for my employer
3. Also IRS says it here: (Section D - Withholding payments not in the nature of wages). All we need to do is report that income.

If publishing books on KDP is wrong, then should renting property, trading, airbnb etc should all be considered wrong. But rental income is reported as 1099-MISC (if landlord receive payments via cash/check). I hear a lot of people do all these things without any issues.

What am I missing here?

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This is active involvement, you wrote the book. On H1, besides your salary, you can only have passive income, e.g., interest from casual investments. Airbnb would also be illegal on H1, unless you hire a management company to actually handle the work.

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There are 2 ways to make money: Working for money and having money work for money. While on H1B status, you cannot do any other work besides the H1B job, but you can still have money work for you. That is why you can invest money and if that investment goes up, you obtain profit (money) even though you didn't do any work for it (your money did). With rental property, it only works if you have a property manager doing the work of maintaining the property and collecting the rent; you just use money to pay for that labor. 

Publishing a book would probably require work on your part that cannot be outsourced to another party unless you paid someone to ghostwrite the book. An even grayer area is, What if I prompt an AI to write a book and I publish it?

The basic test is whether you are performing any physical or cognitive activities to further the business venture, or are you paying someone else to work and you reap the reward in the form of capital gains.

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@JoeF What's the definition of 'active involvement'? There is no proper definition from what does it exactly mean. Even trading which a lot of people do is considered okay but publishing a book or any other kind of work even if you are doing it on the weekends is against the law. 

I haven't found any clear definition of what exactly constitutes 'passive' or 'active'. Does USCIS say it somewhere?

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There is not really a clear definition. Casual trading is ok, for example, but day trading is not. Selling some of your stuff on eBay is ok, but buying things wholesale with the intent to resell it on eBay is not ok. So, use common sense.

Basically, what Attorney_20 said, the basic test is wether you are performing any physical or cognitive activities to further the venture.

Edited by JoeF
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Trading involves money working for money. Writing and publishing a book involved labor (unless you paid someone else to write the book that is published). The same principal applies to home rental; you can own the home and be a landlord but you need to hire someone else to manage the property. Owning a home is a passive investment but renting the home is an active investment. If the active part is outsourced to someone with work authorization, there's no status violation.

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