Can an F1 student be a freelancer on Upwork?

If the freelancing paying you, then NO. If you are contributing to open-source projects and you are not getting paid, then YES you can work on them but its usually on shaky ground of volunteering.

I would suggest in either cases to apply for CPT authorization where you can work for about an year and also get paid for your work. Check with your university’s DSO who can help you navigate the process better.

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