Student Loan for H4 Visa Holders
Individuals who hold an H4 Visa may find it challenging to get funding for their education while in the United States. Fortunately, H4 visa holders have options for securing student loans to help cover the cost of tuition, room and board, and other living expenses.
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Hundreds of thousands of individuals make their way to the U.S. each year to seek out new opportunities either in work or education. However, creating a financially stable life once in the states can be a challenge, particularly for those who have a certain type of visa.
There are several ways to make a transition from another country, including through an H4 Visa as a dependent of another visa holder. Having this type of visa limits what you can do while in the U.S. and how you can fund specific life events, including earning a degree.
In this guide, we will discuss the financial aid options H4 Visa holders have for funding their educational goals.
On this page:
- Studying in the U.S. on an H4 Visa
- Is a Student Loan for H4 Visa Holders Possible?
- Lenders That Work With H4 Visa Holders
- Other Ways to Fund Your Education When You’re on an H4 Visa
- H4 Visa Basics
Studying in the U.S. on an H4 Visa
Anyone who holds an H4 visa can attend a college or university while their visa status is valid. For many, studying is the only viable option if a spouse is also in the U.S. on a limited visa, before they are eligible to apply for a green card.
H4 visa holders have the same enrollment opportunities as individuals with an F-1 visa. They must complete the application process, and of course, find a way to pay for the education.
Advantages of Studying on an H4 Visa
One of the biggest benefits of having an H4 visa as a spouse or dependent of an H1B visa holder is that you can earn a degree at one of the many American colleges or universities. These institutions offer a wide variety of degree programs that can help you attain the skills necessary to land employment with top employers around the world.
Additionally, H4 visa holders often receive in-state tuition in the state they live in, drastically lowering the cost of earning a degree. In-state tuition is available after the visa holder establishes residency, typically after one year, but some schools offer this to international students without the one-year waiting period.
Disadvantages of H4 Visa Studies
The most significant downside of earning a degree as an H4 visa holder is the limitations in funding. Getting a student loan for H4 visa holders is not an easy task for several reasons. While you can get a loan, the process takes more strategic planning than it does for U.S. citizens.
Is a Student Loan for H4 Visa Holders Possible?
The challenges faced by H4 visa holders in getting an affordable student loan are based on the fact that individuals do not yet have established credit in the U.S.
>> Read More: Student Loans for International Students
Those that do offer a student loan for H4 visa holders typically require a cosigner. This is an individual who is added to the student loan application who is also a permanent resident or U.S. citizen. Some H4 visa holders do not have a cosigner available or you may not want to burden the individual.
Although the process is not as easy as it is for U.S. residents, there are two ways to get a student loan for H4 visa holders.
Your Spouse Can Be a Cosigner
A common way to get a student loan for H4 visa holders is for the spouse on an H1B visa to act as the cosigner.
Some student loan lenders can accept a non-U.S. citizen as a cosigner on an education loan, making it easier to get approval as an H4 visa holder. However, the loan balance is owed by both you and your spouse. If a payment is missed, your spouse is on the hook for repaying the balance.
Your Spouse Directly Applies for the Student Loan
As an alternative to having your spouse cosign the loan, you may also work with a lender that allows your spouse to apply for the student loan directly.
If your spouse is comfortable with taking on the full responsibility of the debt, a lender may be willing to approve a student loan for H4 visa holders based on the spouse’s income or credit history. Similar to a cosigner, the spouse is then responsible for making on-time payments until the loan is repaid.
Lenders That Work With H4 Visa Holders
7.99% – 35.99%
$1,000 – $35,000
6 – 24 months
Currently, there is only one lender willing to provide a loan for H4 visa holders – Stilt, a fintech company that began in 2016. It focuses on providing loans for visa holders through a simple, transparent online platform. Interest rates start at 7.99% APR while the maximum rate depends on the state you live in.
The company only offers loans in certain states and specific underwriting requirements must be met. These are focused on income, credit history, and the reason for the loan. To be eligible, applicants must also be physically present in the U.S. and have a U.S. bank account.
Stilt’s ability to offer a loan for H4 visa holders is made easier with more flexible cosigner options and the ability for a spouse to apply directly.
Other Ways to Fund Your Education When You’re on an H4 Visa
When student loans are not an option for financing your education while on an H4 visa, there may be alternatives to consider. First, there are several scholarship opportunities available to international students. Scholarships are beneficial to those pursuing a college degree because the funds received do not need to be repaid over time.
If scholarship funds are not available, looking to personal resources is your next best move. This may mean tapping into personal savings or investments to help cover the cost of tuition. Using a portion of your spouse’s earnings may also help pay for education costs, or you could ask family and friends to contribute to the cause over time.
H4 Visa Basics
If a parent or spouse receives a work visa allowing them to transition to the U.S. to pursue employment, their dependents will likely consider their options for making a similar move.
The H4 Visa allows for just this type of transition for dependents (either a child or a spouse) of someone who receives the following non-immigrant visas:
With an H4 Visa, you are able to go to the U.S. if you are married or are a dependent of a person with a valid visa and you can provide proof of that relationship. The length of the visa is the same as the original visa holder, although you may apply for an extension under certain circumstances. The most important thing to note about an H4 visa is what it allows you to do – and what you cannot do – while in the U.S.
As an H4 visa holder, you can study, work in limited cases, open a U.S. bank account, and get a driver’s license. However, you are not able to get a Social Security number. And in most cases, you cannot pursue gainful employment unless your spouse has a specific type of visa. Most H4 visa holders opt to study.
While getting a student loan for H4 visa holders is not an easy task, at least one lender, Stilt, offers options for visa holders wanting to earn a degree in the U.S. When education loans are not available, looking to other options including scholarships and personal assets is the best option.
Overall, H4 visa holders have ample opportunities to study at a U.S. college or university, but they may need to get creative in order to cover the full cost.
Author: Melissa Horton