At a Glance
Getting a personal loan can be challenging, especially if you’re not a U.S. citizen. But don’t give up just yet! While some lenders have strict rules about citizenship, there are still affordable financing options available for non-citizens like you. Don’t let these challenges discourage you – with a little perseverance, you’ll find the perfect loan that suits your needs.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Can you get a personal loan if you’re not a US citizen
- Information lenders use for approving personal loan applications
- Other information you need to provide while applying
- How to apply for a loan as an immigrant
- Alternatives to personal loans for non-US citizens
- Why do many lenders not consider personal loan applications from non-U.S. citizens
Can you get a personal loan if you’re not a US citizen?
Non-U.S. citizens who have the proper paperwork will typically be able to find a lender willing to work with them. Most banks will require you to have a green card or valid visa and may require you to have an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to get approved.
Here are a few of the most popular lenders that offer loans to US citizens (and their current rates):
Information lenders use for approving personal loan applications
1. Credit score
Lenders will be more willing to work with applicants, regardless of their US citizenship, who have strong credit scores. At the very least, you should have a minimum of two years of credit history before applying for a personal loan.
2. Type of visa
Lenders will work with applicants who have any of these valid visa types:
- E-1, E-2
- G series
- H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3
You may also qualify if you’re a documented asylum seeker.
3. Length of personal loan
Lenders will typically only extend loan terms that end well before your visa’s expiration date. If you’ve got multiple years left before your authorization to reside in the U.S. ends, then you should be okay for getting a personal loan. If, however, you’ve got less than a year before your visa expires, you could have a difficult time getting approved.
A cosigner is someone who applies for the loan with you but is only there in name only as a way to “vouch” for your ability to pay. Having a co-signer may improve your chances of getting a personal loan, but keep in mind that they will be responsible for repaying the loan should you not be able to pay it off on time, and it may affect their credit.
Other information you need to provide while applying
1. Personal information
You’ll need to have proof of your name, residence, and visa status when applying for a loan. Most lenders will want to see some sort of US-based identification (driver’s license, state ID, etc.) but may also accept your valid passport.
In addition, you’ll want to have proof of where you live. This can be a rental agreement, mortgage, or a copy of a utility bill.
2. Income and employment status
When applying for a loan you should expect to provide proof of your income. Lenders will want to see if you’re able to make your monthly payments and will need documentation with your application that verifies this. You can use W-2s or tax statements, but if you don’t have those, you can ask the lender which forms of income proof they’ll accept.
3. Education information
Though rare, some lenders will want to see proof of your education to determine your creditworthiness. Bring copies of your degrees or grades if necessary.
4. Other documents
Finally, you’ll need copies of your visa or green card and your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to go along with your loan application.
How to apply for a loan as an immigrant?
1. Look for the right lender
Every loan application will count as a “hard pull” on your credit report, so it’s important to research your options ahead of time to find a lender that’s most likely to work with non-U.S. citizens. Look online for reviews from other immigrants to see who they’ve worked with and what their experience was like.
2. Collect the required documents
Make sure you have copies of the required documents you’ll need and that the copies are clear, especially in the areas where dates are posted (like your visa expiration). If you’re applying online for a loan, scan the items and save them as .pdf files so you can upload them to your application.
3. Get prequalified
Lenders will prequalify loan candidates based on their creditworthiness, history with the lender, and income levels. Check with your current banks and credit card companies to see if you’re prequalified first before branching out to a new lender.
4. Look for cosigner
Having a cosigner, especially a cosigner with good credit (a score of 700 or higher), will help ensure your application is approved. For the best chances at approval, your cosigner should be a U.S. citizen, though this isn’t required.
Alternatives to personal loans for non-US citizens
1. Stilt loan
Stilt is a financial company that specializes in providing personal loans to immigrants with specific types of visas and underserved communities. You do not need a Social Security number to get approved, and many non-U.S. citizens can prequalify.
2. Lending circle
Lending circles are community-based groups that will pool money together to help members of the circle who are in need. Check your local community center, place of worship, or town hall for resources that can point you in the right direction.
3. Local credit union loan
Local credit unions are banks run in a geographic area that has a vested interest in growing the community. Consequently, they’re typically more willing to work with residents of that area to get them the money they need regardless of citizenship status. You’ll most likely need to be a member to apply for a loan through them, so set up a checking or savings account first and then ask to speak with a loan specialist in a branch or over the phone.
4. Local community organizations
There are lots of nonprofits and government programs available to help those in need temporarily. Check with your local community center, library, or immigration office for resources and information.
Why do many lenders not consider personal loan applications from non-U.S. citizens?
Lenders are typically risk-averse and don’t like to lend people money that they see as “risky,” even if it’s unfair to be categorized that way. US citizens have less chance of leaving the country without repaying their debts than non-U.S. citizens do, so they see lending money to U.S. citizens as “easier” than they do someone who doesn’t live here permanently.
Yes, but you’ll need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead.
Yes, but they’ll need to show proof of income, residence, visa status, and creditworthiness. Additionally, they should research the bank first to see if it has a history of working with immigrants or if it prefers to deal with U.S. citizens only.
Yes, banks will verify your immigration status before approving a loan.
If the foreigner has a green card or valid visa, proof of income, and residency, then they should be able to get a loan. Undocumented immigrants and foreigners with expired or no visas will probably not be able to make it through the verification step of a loan application.
Some lenders unfortunately don’t want to take the risk that a person with citizenship in another country will take their money and leave the country without repaying. It’s unfair to many honest non-U.S. citizens who need a temporary cash infusion, but just comes down to a matter of probability and risk.
Yes, especially if the non-U.S. citizen has an established relationship with the lender beforehand. Many lenders will also have a part of their website that checks to see if you can prequalify for a loan or credit card, and it won’t affect your credit score.
Co-signers are not a requirement for some lenders, but having a cosigner who’s a U.S. citizen with a good credit score will greatly improve your chances of getting approved.
Yes, but credit card companies will want to see at least two years of credit history in addition to proof of income, residency, and visa status. It may be easier to get a secured credit card first to build your credit score and then apply for an unsecured card once you’ve established the minimum required credit history to improve your chances for approval.