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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Navigating the financial system is often more difficult for non-U.S. citizens. This is also the case for non-U.S. citizens applying for a personal loan. In this article, we cover what steps non-U.S. citizens can take to increase their chances of getting approved for a personal loan.

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

While non-U.S. citizens are eligible for personal loans, they'll need to meet certain requirements that vary from lender to lender. Lenders will be looking to see that you have a green card or valid visa that extends at least three years or the length of the loan. Whether your visa will be renewed is also an aspect that lenders consider. Usually, the following visa types are considered, but it varies by lender:

  • E-1
  • E-2
  • E-3
  • H-1B
  • H-2A
  • H-2B
  • H-3
  • J-1
  • L-1
  • G series
  • O-1

As with other loan applications, lenders will be looking at your ability to repay your loan, as well as proof of stable employment. A U.S. credit history of two to six years is generally recommended for a personal loan. However, even if you don't have a traditional credit history in the U.S., you can provide alternative information — such as payment history on rentals and utilities or credit history from a credit reporting agency in your home country.

Some banks may refuse to approve personal loans for non-U.S. citizens. As with many lending decisions, it comes down to the bank's perceived risk of receiving all payments due on a loan. Non-U.S. citizens may not be able to stay in the country or may decide to leave before the loan is repaid in full, and the bank may not be able to recover the remaining balance owed on the loan.

How do you prepare for the application process?

If you plan on applying for a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen, your application will likely be more heavily scrutinized than the application of a U.S. citizen due to the higher risk of lending to non-U.S. citizens. Be prepared to answer the typical questions you may be asked during the application process.

Here's what you may need before filling out an application:

  • A copy of your green card or visa and an employment authorization form — such as form I-765, form I-766 or form I-797A — and an I-94 form
  • A FICO Score and, likely, a minimum U.S. credit history of two to six years

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

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. Having a cosigner who’s a U.S. citizen with good credit will increase your odds of approval.

Make sure you have the information needed to fill out the application, which usually includes some or all of the following in addition to the information listed above:

  • Identifying information: driver's license or other 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.
  • Loan information: desired loan amount, term and use of funds.
  • Employment information: employment status, employer's contact information.
  • Education information: highest level of education obtained, area of study, GPA.

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

Permanent U.S. Residents Residents
with Valid Social Security Number
Residents with Eligible Visas
American ExpressYes
Best EggYes
Freedom PlusYes

YesLong-term visa
Happy MoneyYesYes
StiltYesYesF-1, OPT, H-1B, H-4, O-1, L-1, TN, J-1, or DACA visas
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Since non-U.S. citizens have a variety of circumstances surrounding their loan needs and their residency in the United States, lenders may offer different terms based on your particular set of circumstances and the individual lender's view of the risk associated with a personal loan. Make sure you shop around with multiple lenders and compare loan offerings to get the best deal for your situation.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.