The short answer to whether non-U.S. citizens can get a personal loan in the United States is “Yes.” There are, however, some restrictions which can make it a little more difficult. You also have to know where to look, because not all lending institutions will loan money to non-U.S. citizens.
Why Most Lending Institutions Won’t Lend to Non-U.S. Citizens
Generally, lenders consider non-U.S. citizens, regardless of their visa status, income, and financial stability, to be a high risk. Most visa holders are in this country for a limited time and, once they leave, U.S. laws don’t always apply to them. While some lenders will consider an applicant’s comprehensive profile in determining eligibility, most require at least a six-year credit history. Many banks will only issue a personal loan to a non-U.S. citizen if there is an eligible cosigner on the loan.
The good news is there are still plenty of lenders who will gladly issue loans to non-U.S. citizens. Online lender such as LendingClub, Prosper, LoanDepot, and Avant consider applications from non-U.S. citizens. Other lenders, such as Stilt, specialize in personal loans to nonresidents.
Not a U.S. Citizen and need a personal loan?
- If you’re new to the U.S. and don’t have an SSN yet, you are still eligible to apply
- Do not need a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner to apply
- No prepayment fees
What Non-Residents Need to Qualify for a Personal Loan
Although getting a personal loan is not quite as easy as filling out an application, with a little legwork and preparation, nonresidents have as good a chance as anyone to get one. You will need to work on creating a credit package and gathering some documents.
With some lenders, a two-year credit history and a valid credit score is all that is needed, though that alone can be a difficult requirement for many nonresidents. In many cases, you will have to bolster your credit package with some additional information and documentation. In essence, you will need to convert your existing credit into acceptable U.S. credit to be considered for a personal loan. Here are a few steps to take:
- Gather two years worth of at least three accounts for which you have made consistent and on-time payments, such as a utility bill, a life insurance policy, or a rental contract.
- Obtain a report of your credit activities from a credit reporting agency in your home country.
- Obtain some nontraditional credit references from companies or institutions to which you have made on-time payments for at least one year, including college tuition and health insurance.
You are more likely to get a loan if you can demonstrate you will be staying in the U.S. for at least three years of the loan term and the potential is great for having your visa renewed. If you are attending a college in the U.S. you need to be able to show how long you plan to remain here. If you are working, the company you work for needs to be e-verified. When you apply for a loan you will need to bring the following documents:
- A valid visa – either E1, E2, H1B, H2A, H2B, L1, G series or 0-1
- Employment authorization form I-765, I-766 or 1-797A
Work With a Specialist
Your chances of success can increase dramatically when you seek out a lender that specializes in lending to nonresidents. They usually have the structure, processes, and the understanding necessary to help nonresidents obtain a loan. One of the more notable lenders in the nonresident space is Stilt, a San Francisco-based fintech firm that focuses on foreign national borrowers with limited or non-existent credit histories.
Stilt has no minimum income requirement, but you need to have a full-time job or verifiable offer for starting one within the next 6 months. In addition to your credit score, Stilt considers your potential credit behavior based on such factors as your education background, work experience and savings rate. Borrowers with demonstrative good financial behavior and a high credit score can qualify for a rate as low as 10%, which is fairly standard for nonresident personal loans.
If you are a foreign national in need of a personal loan, there is no need to despair because financing is available. The more prepared you are by compiling a credit profile and gathering documents, the better your chances of obtaining a loan. The worst case would mean finding a U.S. citizen willing to sponsor you by cosigning your loan.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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