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Everything you need to know about loans in the U.S. as an immigrant

15 Nov 2022 - Category: Blog /
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Are you an immigrant looking for some financial assistance in the U.S.? Maybe you’re looking to open a small business, make a significant purchase, start a college course or support a loved one?

One of the most common ways to achieve any of these things is to take out a loan. But, is this process the same for everyone? How does it work if you live in the United States but you are a non-U.S. citizen?

In this blog we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about loans in the U.S. for immigrants, including:

Are you eligible for a personal loan as an immigrant in the U.S.?

Navigating the financial system and successfully securing a loan is never as simple as it should be. This is especially true for immigrants. There are a number of things that you need to take into account if you are a non-U.S. citizen applying for a personal loan today. Firstly, you need to consider whether you are eligible.

Immigrants in the U.S. are eligible for personal loans. However, you will need to meet a variety of requirements, some of which vary from lender to lender, before you have your loan confirmed. Generally, lenders will be focussed on your visa status.

Do you have a green card or a valid visa that lasts at least 3 years? If you have a visa, will it be valid for as long as the duration of the loan you are seeking? These are the kinds of questions lenders will ask. They will also be concerned with how likely it is that your visa will be renewed.

Generally, the following types of visa are necessary for you to be eligible for a personal loan:

  • E-1
  • E-2
  • E-3
  • G series
  • H-1B
  • H-2A
  • H-2B
  • H-3
  • J-1
  • L-1
  • O-1

Remember, the specific visa requirements will vary from lender to lender. Moreover, as well as your visa/green card status lenders will also check on your employment and financial situation.

Do you have proof of stable employment? Do you have a U.S. credit history of at least 2 to 6 years? If you don’t have a traditional credit history in the U.S. can you provide equivalent information from your home country? These are the questions you should be asking yourself regarding your personal finances before you start your applications.

Most banks will look for a U.S. credit history of at least 2 years. Equally, some lenders will consider alternative information such as documentation from a credit reporting agency in your country of origin. As with most lending decisions, the whole process depends on how the lender perceives the risk of giving you the money. Therefore some banks may refuse to give personal loans to immigrants if they believe they may not stay in the country long enough to repay the loan.

What do you need to do for the loan application?

So, how do you prepare for the loan application process? Well, there are plenty of forms and documents that you need to gather before you even contact any lender.

The first things you need before you start the loan application are:

  • A copy of your visa or green card
  • An employment authorization form (Form I-765, Form I-766, Form I-797A
  • An I-94 Form, also known as an Arrival/Departure Record.
  • A FICO Score
  • A minimum U.S. credit history of 2 to 6 years.

As well as all this useful and vital information there is some additional documentation you should also gather, including:

  • ID (driver’s license or passport)
  • Income verification (pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns or a W-2)
  • Proof of address (utility bills, lease or rental documents)
  • Loan information (the amount of the laon you want, the terms of the loan)
  • Education information (certifications and qualifications)
  • Further employment information (contracts, employment status)

Where can immigrants get a personal loan in the U.S.?

Where you can get your personal loan from will depend on your eligibility and some of the factors we’ve discussed above. Below we’ve listed some of the well known lenders and whether they offer personal loans to permanent U.S. residents, those will valid social security numbers and residents with eligible visas.

For permanent U.S. residents the lenders who may offer you a personal loan include:

  • American Express, Avant, Best Egg, Discover, Freedom Plus, LendingClub, Lending Point, Marcus, Happy Money, RocketLoans, SoFi, Stilt, Upgrade and Upstart

For immigrants with a valid social security number, the list is smaller but still includes:

  • Avant, Lending Point, Marcus, Happy Money, RocketLoans, SoFi, Stilt, and Upgrade

And, for residents with eligible visas, the list is even smaller but includes:

  • LendingClub, SoFi, Stilt, and Upgrade

These are broad suggestions for the types of lenders that may provide personal loans to non-U.S. citizens. Ofcourse, as with any loan every application is different and the success of your loan will depend on a variety of circumstances, many of which we have highlighted above.

Who are the best lenders and what’s a good interest rate?

There is no single best lender. Ultimately, the best lender will be the one that provides you with a loan at the most affordable level. This means you need to look for a lender with the most reasonable interest rates and the lowest borrowing fees. Unfortunately, if you’re an immigrant that has no credit history you are unlikely to be offered a low interest rate loan straight away. The best way to determine a good lender is to compare the interest rates, borrowing fees and their reputation for dealing with first-time lenders who are non-citizens.

Generally, you should aim for an interest rate between 10% and 30%, or better. However, these percentages will change over time so it’s important to check on a regular basis. In 2021 LendingClub offered a variety of interest rates between 8.05% and 35.89%. Another lender OneMain Financial was on the higher side, in the range of 18.00% – 35.99%. While high, these interest rates are quite realistic. A good interest rate for a personal loan should be around 5% to 20% but you can expect this to be slightly higher for non-citizens with no credit history in the U.S.

How to send money to and from the U.S.

Learning about how to obtain and manage loans in the U.S. should hopefully help you support family and friends based in the U.S and abroad. If you want your loved ones to enjoy their time in the U.S., or you want to support them abroad, then you may want to send them some money. If so, Small World is here for you.

Small World is an international money transfer service that helps millions around the world send money to their loved ones. There are a variety of transfer services you can make use of if you want to support your family and friends in the United States or internationally, including bank deposit and cash pickup.

We are also partnered with a number of American banks such as Chase, Bank of America, CITI, Wells Fargo, BNY Mellon and many more. With our partnerships and secure services you couldn’t be in a better position to send and from the money to the U.S.

Your first digital transaction is always free of transfer fees!


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