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Loans for nonresidents in the United States
Compare loans you can qualify for without a green card, and learn what to expect when you apply.
Your personal loan options are limited if you’re in the US on a visa. Most providers require you to apply with a permanent resident or citizen as a coapplicant. However, a few lenders like Stilt and Boro specialize in loans for nonresidents.
7 personal loans available to nonresidents
This research is based on public information. When you apply, the provider will decide if you’re eligible based on your unique circumstances. If not, you might have to apply with a cosigner or coapplicant in some cases.
F-1, OPT, H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN, J-1 visasDACA recipients can also qualify.
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7.99% to 15.99%
J-1, H-1B, E-2, O-1 or TN visas.
All visas must have at least two years left, unless you’ve applied for renewal or for permanent resident status.Permanent residents must also have at least two years left on their visa.
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5.99% to 18.28%
Valid, long-term visa
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10.68% to 35.89%
No specific visa requirements
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9.99% to 35.99%
F-1, OPT, H-1B, J-1, L or O-1 visa
Must be an international college student
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7.99% to 35.97%
TN, E or OPermanent residents with a 10-year and 2-year green card can also qualify
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7.99% to 35.97%
No specific requirements
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7.99% to 35.97%
How do loans for nonresidents work?
For lawful permanent and nonpermanent residents, applying for a loan is the same process as for citizens. There are no higher costs or fees, though interest rates may vary.
However, the process depends on the lender and type of loan you choose. Generally, nonresidents need to submit documents proving you’re in the US legally and might have to apply with a cosigner if you don’t already have a credit score.
How to qualify
If your lender offers loans to nonresidents, you typically need to have:
- A Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Most lenders like LendingPointrequire one of these numbers to apply, which you should have after completing a visa application.
- An eligible visa. Lenders like Earnest are willing to work with nonresidents on specific visas, such as the TN, E or O. SoFi allows borrowers with a J-1 or H1-B visa to qualify. There are even lenders like Stilt that specifically offer financing for noncitizens on work or student visas, including DACA recipients.
Remember: Not all lenders are willing to work with nonresidents — even with a cosigner.
Are there restrictions for nonresidents?
Even when you find a lender that works with nonresidents, you may face some restrictions. As a nonresident, you might run into the following roadblocks:
- If you don’t have a consistent credit history, you may be required to apply with a cosigner.
- If you’re a nonresident who will be in the US for a limited time, approval for a loan may be hard.
- If you’re a foreign national or have diplomatic immunity, you may have difficulty getting a mortgage because lenders are unprotected if you default.
What about my credit history?
A two-year credit history and valid credit score within the US is ideal, but it can be a difficult requirement for nonresidents to meet. Depending on the lender, there are ways you can still get a loan:
- Assemble a credit report with three nontraditional credit accounts — for example, a rental, utility or life insurance bill.
- Obtain your credit history from a foreign independent credit reporting agency.
- Get written verification from foreign creditors to establish a credit history.
Getting your paperwork together is only the first step in getting a loan. If you are emigrating from your home country to the US, you need to convert your existing credit into US credit in order to apply for any kind of loan.
On top of loans, Stilt offers a credit score building services based on bill payments.
How to get nontraditional credit references
For many nonresidents, it may be possible to get a nontraditional credit check. This could help you get a loan without a credit score. You will need sufficient nontraditional credit references, and your credit accounts must be free of late payments, collections or foreclosure. Nontraditional credit references can include:
- Your rental history.
- A history of payments for utility bills like gas, electric, water or cable TV.
- Non-payroll-deducted medical, life, auto or renters insurance.
- School tuition.
You should gather at least three nontraditional credit references, each showing 12 months of on-time payments, to submit with your loan application.
How to get an ITIN number
You’re eligible for an ITIN number as soon as you start paying taxes. Having an ITIN is generally required to get a loan as a nonresident, even with a cosigner. You can get an ITIN by filling out a W-7 application for an ITIN. You’ll have to include documents supporting your resident status and your identification.
If you need help, look for an IRS Acceptance Agent near you — an entity like a college or bank that the IRS has authorized to assist with your application. You can find an acceptance agent in or outside the US on the IRS website.
Why is it so hard to find a nonresident loan?
Lenders in the US are wary of working with nonresidents for a few reasons. Since you’re not a citizen, there’s no guarantee that you’ll stay in the country until the loan is paid off. And after you leave, they might not have much legal recourse to get the funds back.
Some lenders also don’t like working with nonresidents because they don’t have a credit history. This makes it difficult to tell how likely an applicant is to repay the loan. Lenders generally consider anyone without a credit score to be risky.
Personal loans for nonresidents
When applying for a personal loan in the US, you’ll quickly realize that they aren’t designed for nonresidents. But there’s good news: You’re still eligible to apply for some personal loans, including car loans. Just be prepared for plenty of paperwork.
How does a personal loan for a nonresident work?
A personal loan for nonresidents is similar to a personal loan for residents: If approved, you can use the money you receive to cover almost any expense. You pay back the principal amount — the money you borrowed — plus interest over three to seven years.
For a temporary resident, like someone on a work visa, you may need to meet extra criteria in order to qualify. Most lenders will need the details of your visa before you’re approved to ensure that the terms of the personal loan don’t exceed the amount of time left on your visa. You may also need to meet higher minimum income criteria.
What do I need to apply for a personal loan?
The paperwork required to fill out your application depends on the type of loan you’re applying for and the lender you’re applying with. In general, loans are only granted to people who plan to continue working in the US for at least three years or through the duration of the loan.
If you’re applying for a traditional loan, you’ll need:
- Copies of your passport.
- A valid visa — E1, E2, H1B, H2 A, H2B, H3, L1, G series or 0-1.
- Employment authorization Form I-766 or I-765 to prove that you are eligible to work in the US.
- Form I-797A with an attached I-94 or any other documentation that can prove you’re authorized to work in the US.
- Form I-20, otherwise known as a certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status which you should receive from your school.
4 types of personal loans to consider
As a nonresident, you can apply for four main types of personal loans. They can be used to get you through a financial pinch or to build your credit for larger loans, especially if you plan on staying in the US for a long period of time.
Unsecured personal loan
An unsecured personal loan isn’t backed by any collateral and can be used for almost any purpose. And while your interest rate will likely be fixed over the life of your loan, you may have to pay a higher interest rate than with a secured personal loan.
Up to $100,000
Secured personal loan
A secured personal loan requires you to provide an asset as a guarantee — like your car or home. It protects the lender by allowing it to repossess and sell your asset to recoup its losses if you default on the loan. Because of this, it generally has lower interest rates than other types of personal loans.
Up to $100,000
With repayment terms of two to four weeks, payday loans are typically for smaller sums of money. However, because they’re meant for borrowers with bad credit or a limited credit history, interest rates can be quite high — sometimes more than 300%.
Up to $1,000
With a set number of payments over a scheduled period of time, installment loans can last for a few months or more. An installment loan is usually as expensive as a payday loan, but you’ll have more time to pay it back. Best of all, some lenders even report your on-time payments so you can build your credit.
Up to $5,000
Student loans for nonresidents
Whether it’s MIT, UCLA or Harvard, the opportunity to study in the US can open many doors. But if you can’t afford the cost of attending college in the US, an international student loan may be able to help.
Do I still need a credit history as an international student?
As an international student, you likely haven’t built up a credit history in the US. Lenders don’t require you to have excellent credit, but you might be required to have a US cosigner. Your cosigner will legally sign loan papers in order to help you to obtain a loan.
Because cosigners are jointly and legally responsible for repaying the loan, they must have:
- Good to excellent credit.
- Proof of US citizenship or lawful permanent residency.
- Proof of income.
- Proof they’ve lived in the US for two years or more.
How can I find the best student loan for my needs?
Not all loans are created equal. You’ll need to do your research and compare your options before making a final decision. These factors will usually play the biggest role when you make your final loan decision.
- Interest rate. One of the most important factors to consider is the interest rate. It’s not always easy to compare them, but a loan with a low interest rate may be a bad value if its fees are too high. Likewise, a loan with a high rate and low fees could be an exceptional value.
- APR. Don’t ignore the loan’s annual percentage rate (APR), which reflects the interest rate, fees and other charges to establish the loan. This is often the most useful tool when comparing loans.
- Loan term. While a longer loan term decreases your monthly payment, it increases the amount you pay in interest over the life of your loan. A shorter term decreases the amount of interest, but ups your monthly payments.
- Monthly payment. Loans with variable interest rates or balloon payments typically have lower monthly payments, but these often come with other costs. A fixed-rate loan is much more common and allows you to budget your monthly payments without stress.
Mortgages for nonresidents
Financing a home loan or mortgage as a nonresident is difficult, but not impossible. The ease of application usually depends on your residency status. Generally, you can apply for a home loan if you are a:
- Permanent resident with a valid green card (Form I-551).
- Nonpermanent resident with a valid work visa.
Otherwise, you may run into trouble finding a lender willing to finance a loan for such a long term and large amount.
What do I need to apply for a mortgage?
Lenders typically ask to see the following documents from noncitizen applicants:
- A valid work visa — E1, E2, H1B, H2A, H2B, H3, L1 or G1–G4 visas.
- A valid Social Security number.
- Employment authorization documentation.
- Proof of employment history and income.
- A multiyear credit history.
What is a balloon loan?
A balloon loan is a loan — often a mortgage — that doesn’t fully amortize before the end of its term. This means that while your payments are lower over the life of the loan, you’ll have to make a single large payment at the end of the loan.
This payment is often more than twice the loan’s average payment, sometimes even thousands of dollars. Before taking out a loan with a final balloon payment, you need to think about whether you’ll have the cash on hand to pay the final balloon payment when it’s due.
What happens after I get my loan?
After you’ve completed your loan application and submitted all the necessary paperwork, your lender may take a few days to a few weeks to process your loan. If approved, your funds may be available as soon as the next day, but it usually takes longer.
You can stay on top of payments by following these tips:
- Create a budget. A budget can help you both save for monthly payments and remind you not to overspend.
- Enroll for automatic payments. With autopay, recurring payments are deducted from your bank account and electronically sent to your lender. It’s the easiest way for you to pay off your loan while avoiding late fees.
- Avoid missing payments. If you think you won’t be able to make your monthly payment, contact your lender as soon as possible. It may be willing to explore ways to help.
Getting a loan as a nonresident involves a lot of paperwork and time, but there are options out there for you. Be prepared to compare several lenders and do some digging to find the best deal. Once you find one that suits your needs, you’ll be well on your way to getting the funds you need to settle in — whether that’s for a few years or a lifetime.
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