How to Get Personal Loans as a Non-U.S. Citizen, Immigrant

How to Get Personal Loans as a Non-U.S. Citizen, Immigrant

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Traditional banks and online lenders typically don’t offer loans for non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents without an eligible cosigner. However, certain lenders specialize in loans for immigrants, while others may extend credit if you meet the criteria.

Eligibility requirements vary between lenders, but generally you must currently reside in the U.S. and have a U.S. bank account in your name.

Can you get a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen?

Some lenders do offer immigrant loans if you meet specific requirements. However, many view visa holders as risky borrowers who might head overseas before repaying their debts. Because of this, you might need to take extra steps to secure a personal loan for immigrants.

In general, lenders want you to have a green card or a visa with at least two years left on it, although certain lenders accept a minimum of six months on your visa. Having a visa that’s due to renew could likely improve your chances of approval.

The following visas and situations might qualify for a personal loan (but check with your lender to confirm):

  • DACA recipients and asylum seekers
  • E-1
  • E-2
  • E-3
  • F-1-OPT and OPT STEM extension
  • H-1B
  • H-2A
  • H-2B
  • H-3
  • J-1
  • L-1
  • G series
  • O-1
  • TN

As with other loan applications, lenders will look at factors that show your reliability, such as proof of employment and a solid credit score.

Unfortunately, your overseas credit history won’t automatically transfer unless you pay for an international credit transfer service. Therefore, you may need to build your U.S. credit history from scratch, which can take several months to a year or two.

If you need funds right away and don’t have time to build your credit history, you can provide other information, such as payment history on rentals and utilities. You can also show your credit history from a credit reporting agency in your home country.

Some banks may refuse to approve personal loans for non-U.S. citizens. This decision is generally based on the bank's perceived risk that non-U.S. citizens might not be able to stay in the country or may decide to leave before the loan is repaid in full.

Again, having more time on your visa or a steady job here in the U.S. could help sway the lender to approve your application.

How to find a personal loan for immigrants

Lenders will likely scrutinize your application more than they would for a U.S. citizen due to heightened risk factors mentioned above. Research the required documents ahead of time to speed up the application process — the more prepared you are, the better.

Here's what you may need:

  • A copy of your green card, visa or proof of residency status
  • An employment authorization form — such as form I-765, form I-766 or form I-797A
  • An I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • A FICO Score of at least 600
  • An established U.S. credit history or alternative method of showing your payment history

You should prepare additional information that may help your case, sometimes referred to as a "credit package." If you have an existing credit history outside the U.S., gather credit history information from foreign credit reporting agencies to show your creditworthiness.

To do this, pull information for at least three accounts where you've made on-time payments for at least two years — such as rent, utility bills, insurance or tuition payments. Furthermore, getting a personal loan with a cosigner could increase your odds of approval — just make sure your cosigner is a U.S. citizen with good credit.

Here’s some information you may also need:

  • Identifying information: Driver's license or another identification card.
  • Proof of address: Utility bills, leases or other documentation with your address.
  • Income verification: W-2, pay stubs, bank statements or tax returns.
  • Personal information: Contact information, Social Security number or ITIN number, or Alien Registration Number (or "A number").
  • Loan information: Desired loan amount, term and use of funds.
  • Employment information: Employment status, employer's contact information.
  • Education information: Your highest level of education obtained, area of study, and grades.

Since non-U.S. citizens have a variety of circumstances surrounding their loan needs and residency in the United States, lenders may offer different terms based on the particular set of circumstances.

Make sure to shop around and compare personal loan offerings to get the best interest rate for your situation. Be wary of "no credit check" loans since these tend to come with high-interest rates and less-than-ideal terms.

Lastly, if you’re a student planning to study in the U.S., you can also consider credit cards for international students to help fund your education alongside student loans for immigrants.