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Participation in Market Research (Focus Groups) while on F1 visa F Visa

Discussion in 'Cultural, Training, Student Visa' started by ShinShilla, Aug 3, 2010.

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  1. ShinShilla

    ShinShilla Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi,
    I am a student on F-1 visa and wonder whether I can legally participate in paid market research groups or focus groups conducted by independent agencies. To participate I have to provide my full name and home address, but no social security number or verification of citizenship. They do not ask to fill out the W9 form, and will "guarantee confidentiality" (whatever that means). At the end of the discussion, the participants are either paid in cash or issued a check with their name on it.

    Does participation in such market research group constitutes employment, or am I just "selling" my opinion (as I would sell a car, say)? Is there anything in the immigration laws that specifically defines this type of activity as an employment? Has there been a precedent when F1 visa holder got in legal trouble because of participation in a focus group?

    Thank you!
     
  2. fredrikklaw

    fredrikklaw Moderator

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    Not worth the risk!

    Even though it is a one-ff market research focus group and that the USCIS may never be none the wiser about it, I would still not risk being found in violation of the terms of my visa as at the end of the day, it is still considered earnings which may well be construed as employment.

    If you really must, apply for a temporary work authorization first and then do it, after being granted one, of course.

    fredrikkalw
     

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