September 26, 2023
a person sitting at a desk with a laptop and a coffee cup

Being an international student often comes with financial challenges. Alongside academic commitments, many international students seek ways to generate additional income to support their living expenses and reduce the burden on their families. Passive income ideas can be particularly appealing as they provide an opportunity to earn money while managing a busy schedule. In this article, we will explore the 21 best passive income ideas for international students, ranging from online ventures to investment opportunities.

a person sitting at a desk with a laptop and a coffee cup

1. Create and Sell Digital Products

International students can leverage their skills and expertise to create digital products like e-books, online courses, stock photos, or graphic designs. Platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Udemy, Shutterstock, and Etsy offer opportunities to sell digital products and earn passive income.

2. Start a Blog or YouTube Channel

Creating a blog or YouTube channel allows international students to share their knowledge, experiences, and insights with a wider audience. Through monetization strategies like advertising, sponsored content, or affiliate marketing, students can generate passive income as their online platforms gain traction.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves promoting products or services and earning a commission for each sale or referral made through your unique affiliate link. International students can join affiliate programs of companies in their niche and promote products through their blogs, social media platforms, or email lists.

4. Rent Out a Room or Property

If international students have access to extra space, they can consider renting it out through platforms like Airbnb. Renting out a spare room or property can provide a steady stream of passive income, particularly in popular student areas or tourist destinations.

5. Peer-to-Peer Lending

Investing in peer-to-peer lending platforms allows international students to earn passive income by lending money to borrowers and earning interest on the loan. Platforms like Prosper, LendingClub, and Upstart facilitate such lending opportunities.

6. Invest in Stocks or Mutual Funds

International students can invest in stocks or mutual funds to generate passive income through dividends or capital appreciation. It is important to conduct thorough research or seek guidance from financial advisors before venturing into stock market investments.

7. Build an E-commerce Store

Setting up an e-commerce store enables international students to sell physical products online. They can choose to sell their own products or leverage dropshipping models, where they don’t need to handle inventory or shipping themselves.

8. Rent Out Personal Assets

International students can earn passive income by renting out personal assets they own, such as cameras, musical instruments, or sports equipment. Platforms like Fat Llama or RentNotBuy facilitate peer-to-peer rentals.

9. Develop a Mobile App

For students with coding and programming skills, developing a mobile app can be a lucrative venture. By monetizing the app through ads, in-app purchases, or subscriptions, international students can earn passive income from app downloads and usage.

10. Invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs allow investors to pool their money to invest in real estate properties and earn dividends. International students can invest in REITs through brokerage accounts and benefit from passive income generated by rental properties or property appreciation.

11. Print-on-Demand Merchandise

Using print-on-demand services, international students can create custom-designed merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, or phone cases. These products are only printed and shipped when someone places an order, eliminating the need for inventory management.

12. Create and Sell Stock Photos

If international students have photography skills, they can capture high-quality images and sell them on stock photography platforms like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, or Getty Images. Each sale earns them a passive income.

13. Develop a Software Application

International students proficient in software development can create and sell software applications. This could range from mobile apps to productivity tools or specialized software for specific industries.

14. Invest in Dividend-Paying Stocks

Dividend-paying stocks provide international students with regular income as they receive a portion of the company’s profits in the form of dividends. Researching and investing in stable companies with a history of consistent dividend payments can be a viable passive income strategy.

15. Create and Sell Online Courses

International students can utilize their expertise in a particular field to create online courses. Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or Teachable allow them to package their knowledge into comprehensive courses and earn passive income from course enrollments.

16. Create and Sell Printables

Printables are digital files that users can download and print for personal use, such as planners, calendars, worksheets, or coloring pages. International students can create and sell printables on platforms like Etsy or their own websites.

17. Invest in Peer-to-Peer Lending Platforms

Similar to peer-to-peer lending, international students can invest in peer-to-peer lending platforms as lenders and earn interest on the loans they provide to borrowers.

18. Participate in Research Studies or Surveys

International students can participate in research studies or online surveys that offer compensation for their time and opinions. While not a consistent source of income, it can provide additional earnings.

19. Create and Sell Handcrafted Products

If international students have skills in crafting or creating handmade products, they can sell their creations on platforms like Etsy. Handcrafted products often have a unique appeal and can attract buyers seeking one-of-a-kind items.

20. Invest in Index Funds

Index funds allow investors to diversify their investment portfolio by buying a collection of stocks that represent a market index. These funds typically generate passive income through dividends and capital gains.

21. Create and Sell Digital Art

International students with artistic skills can create and sell digital art, illustrations, or designs online. Websites like Redbubble, Society6, or Etsy offer a platform to showcase and sell digital art to a global audience.


International students have numerous opportunities to generate passive income and alleviate their financial burdens while focusing on their studies. The key is to identify their skills, interests, and available resources to explore the most suitable passive income ideas. Whether through online ventures, investments, or leveraging personal assets, international students can embark on a journey towards financial independence and a more secure future. It is essential to research each opportunity, assess risks, and seek guidance as needed. With dedication, creativity, and perseverance, international students can successfully create multiple streams of passive income that support their academic pursuits and provide a strong foundation for their future.