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4 Personal Loans for Non-U.S. Citizens
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Non-citizens living and working in the U.S. face their share of challenges, including access to financial tools like personal loans. But some lenders are willing to extend personal loans for immigrants and non-U.S. citizens regardless of residency status.
Where you can get a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen
Some U.S. lenders specialize in giving loans to noncitizens, while others extend loan eligibility to citizens and resident noncitizens alike. The table below shows a few lenders that work with people who are not U.S. citizens.
|4 personal loans for non-U.S. citizens|
|Lending company||Who can apply?|
|Earnest||Eligibility varies by lender, as identified by the Fiona loan-matching tool. While some participating lenders (Prosper, Upstart) serve any U.S. resident with a Social Security number, there’s no guarantee all participants will lend to noncitizens.|
|SoFi||Permanent residents or holders of E-2, E-3, H-1B, J-1, L-1, or O-1 visas who’ve applied for permanent status, at least age 18, with income or promise of employment, residing in states where SoFi is licensed.|
|Stilt Personal Loan||Permanent residents or holders of F-1, H-1B, O-1, J-1, L-1, TN, L-1 or G-1 visa good for at least six months (or proof of DACA or Asylum status), with stable income or a U.S. job offer, a U.S. bank account and a fixed address in a state where Stilt is licensed.|
|Upgrade||Permanent residents ages 18 and up, living in the U.S. on a valid visa, with U.S bank accounts and valid email addresses.|
Earnest has shifted the focus of its lending marketplace to specialize in student loans. Its personal loan offerings are now handled through a partnership with Fiona, a service that matches applicants to lenders based on self-submitted financial information.
Fiona offers loan amounts ranging from $1,000 to $250,000, with payment terms ranging from 24 to 84 months. Interest rates and fees vary by lender, but the annual percentage rate (APR) starts as low as 2.49%.
Who is eligible to apply?
Obtaining a final offer, including a firm loan amount, repayment term and interest rate, requires submitting a formal application to the lender(s) Fiona matches to you, each with its own eligibility and loan-approval criteria. Fiona filters out lenders that don’t operate in your state, but there’s no guarantee every lender it suggests will issue loans for immigrants.
SoFi is a “digital personal finance company” that offers insurance, investment services, debit and credit cards, as well as student loans, auto loans, mortgages and personal loans.
SoFi personal-loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on your state. Repayment periods range from two to seven years, and interest rates fall between 5.99% to 18.85% APR (with AutoPay).
Who is eligible to apply?
SoFi requires noncitizens to meet the following eligibility requirements in order to apply for personal loans:
- You must be at least the age of majority in your state (18 in most states, 19 in some) and able to enter into a binding contract.
- You must be a permanent resident or visa holder (E-2, E-3, H-1B, J-1, L-1, or O-1).
- If a permanent resident, you must provide a copy of your permanent residency card (green card), with total validity (from issuance to expiry) of more than two years.
- If you are a visa holder, you must provide a copy of your valid visa and proof of an approved application for a green card, including either an I-140 approval notice (immigrant petition for alien worker), or receipt or approval of an I-485 (application to register permanent residence).
- If you are a non-permanent resident alien or DACA recipient who does not have a valid visa, SoFi requires you to apply with a creditworthy co-borrower who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- You must reside in a state where SoFi Lending Corp. is authorized to lend (Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming).
- You must be employed, have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days or have sufficient income from other sources to cover the loan payment.
Stilt is a specialty lending service dedicated to providing loans for immigrants and the underserved. When deciding who qualifies for a loan, Stilt conducts standard financial reviews, including getting credit reports and scores when available. Stilt also may consider an applicant’s history of paying non-debt-related bills and educational background, including grade point average. Stilt offers personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $35,000, with repayment terms of 6 to 36 months. Minimum APR on Stilt loans is 7.99%; the maximum APR varies by state.
Who is eligible to apply?
Applicants for Stilt loans must have:
- A physical address (not a post office box) in one of the 16 states where Stilt is licensed (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin).
- A U.S. bank account.
- A personal phone number in your name (Google Voice and other online-only numbers are not acceptable, nor are business or school phone numbers).
- A legal, valid F-1, H-1B, O-1, J-1, L-1, TN, L-1 or G-1 visa good for at least six months, or proof of DACA or asylum status.
- A source of stable income or a valid job offer in the U.S.
Upgrade is an online and mobile bank that offers checking accounts, credit cards and a variety of loans. Upgrade personal loans range from $1,000 to $50,000, with APRs of 5.94% to 35.97%. All Upgrade personal loans have an origination fee ranging from 2.90% - 8.00%, which is deducted from the loan amount before you receive it.
To decide whether you qualify for a loan, and to set the interest rate if you do, Upgrade checks your credit score and credit report.
Who is eligible to apply?
Non-citizens must provide proof of the following to qualify for an Upgrade personal loan:
- You are a permanent resident, living in the U.S. on a valid visa.
- You are at least 18 years old (or 19 years old if required by law in your state).
- You have a verifiable bank account.
- You have a valid email address.
How to get a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen
Many lenders make U.S. citizenship a prerequisite for applying for personal loans — that is, they require proof of citizenship before they’ll even consider reviewing your financial qualifications — but that is not always the case.
Lenders willing to issue personal loans to non-U.S. citizens typically require permanent residency and/or a green card or visa valid for at least the life of the loan. (U.S. lenders want to be sure you’ll be in the country in case they have any trouble collecting payments.) In practical terms, that often means your visa should be valid at least two years into the future, since many personal loans have payment terms of at least 24 months.
The following visa types could be considered depending on the lender:
|Commonly accepted visas for applicants|
Once you show you meet these requirements, lenders review your financial qualifications to ensure you can pay back the loan, in full and on time. They’ll look at your income level, length of employment (or the amount of income you will receive based on a valid job offer) and other debts you may have. They also typically require a credit check.
New immigrants typically lack any credit history in the U.S., and therefore have no credit reports or credit scores. That won’t necessarily prevent you from getting a personal loan, but lenders usually look for loan defaults, accounts sent to collection agencies or bankruptcies before extending a loan.
Building credit as a non-U.S. citizen
Even if you have a longstanding credit history in your home country, it likely won’t be recognized in the U.S. That’s understandably frustrating, and it’s wise to begin establishing credit in the states as quickly as possible.
If you can, consider working with Nova Credit, a credit-reporting company that can pull credit information from certain other countries (so far, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Nigeria, South Korea and the United Kingdom) and use it to generate U.S.-standardized credit reports. American Express has a deal to use Nova Credit data in its application process, and getting an AmEx credit card could jump-start your ability to get a U.S. credit score.
Preparing your personal loan application
When preparing to apply for a personal loan for non-U.S. citizens, you’ll need to have some sort of identification, such as your green card, visa or driver’s license. You’ll also need to provide proof of address (such as a utility bill in your name), and verification of employment and income (a pay stub or a valid offer of employment). Some lenders require all applicants to provide a Social Security number, which is available to noncitizens via the Social Security Administration. If you are ineligible for a Social Security number, some financial institutions will accept your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead.
Upon approval, personal loans from the lenders profiled here will be transferred electronically to your bank account, which means you’ll need to have an account set up. You’ll need your account number and the bank’s routing number to set up the transfer and to set up automatic monthly loan payments.
Since lenders typically attempt to check your credit score when processing your personal-loan application, it’s not a bad idea to check your score yourself ahead of time to see what they might find. Tools like the LendingTree app let you check your credit scores for free. While there’s no guarantee the score you see will be exactly what a lender sees, you’ll have a better understanding of where you fall on the credit spectrum (poor, fair, good, very good, excellent). A score that’s fair or better (or no score at all) can qualify you for a personal loan, but a poor score could indicate serious issues in your credit file, and it would be wise to investigate further by getting copies of your U.S. credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
FAQ on personal loans for non-U.S. citizens
Is a personal loan a good idea?
As long as you are confident in your ability to repay the loan, a personal loan can be a great tool for covering a large one-time expense, such as long-distance move or home repair, or to allow you to pay off one or more smaller loans with high interest rates, such as credit card balances. Obtaining and repaying a personal loan is a good way to build credit, as making payments on time each month helps build a positive credit history and promotes credit-score improvement.
Do I need a cosigner?
Some lenders require noncitizens without permanent residency to have a cosigner on the loan application — typically someone with established credit (and permanent residency or citizenship) who’ll take responsibility for the loan if you fail to make your payments. Conversely, some lenders don’t allow cosigners at all. If you have difficulty getting approval for a personal loan on your own, ask potential lenders about their policies on cosigners.
Which lender is best?
The “best” lender for you is one that provides the loan you need at the most affordable borrowing terms (interest rates and fees) you can get. Annual percentage rate, or APR, takes both interest and fees into account and can be used to compare total borrowing costs.
As a noncitizen without an established credit history, it’s unlikely you’ll be offered the lowest interest rates available from any specific lender, but that doesn’t mean you should simply accept the first loan offer that comes your way. Lenders differ in their lending standards and eligibility requirements, so it’s prudent to apply to multiple lenders and compare offers to get the best possible deal.
Personal loans can be extremely useful for covering emergency expenses and major purchases, or for combining the costs of multiple credit-card balances. Getting a personal loan as a non-citizen can be a challenge, but the effort can be worthwhile if the loan serves you well. Plus, if you pay off the loan as agreed, you’ll be strengthening your credit in the U.S. at the same time.