Can You Get a Personal Loan if You’re Not a U.S. Citizen?

Explore personal loan options for non-U.S. citizens. Find the best rates, compare credit requirements, and learn the steps to getting approved.
Edited by:
Kristin Marino verified

Sometimes, a personal loan can help smooth your finances.

But how do you get a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen?

The good news is that getting a personal loan is possible when you’re a non-citizen living in the U.S. However, you’ll likely need to jump through a few hoops.

Here’s what you need to know about getting a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen.

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Can a Non-Citizen Get a Personal Loan?

Yes, getting a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen is possible. However, each lender has its requirements. You need to double-check the lender’s requirements and ensure you meet them.

Generally, a U.S. citizen’s ability to get a personal loan depends on where they live, their credit history, and their income. For a non-U.S. citizen, other requirements, such as the type of visa they have, can matter. Additionally, qualifying might be more difficult if you’ve recently moved to the United States and have built up credit.

Even without a U.S. credit history, though, getting a personal loan is still possible. Here are some of the requirements you might need to meet, depending on the individual lender:

  • Hold an eligible visa
  • Have a reasonable expectation of having the visa renewed during the term of the loan
  • Verifiable mailing address and confirm residency in the U.S. for at least some years
  • Show stable employment
  • Demonstrate some level of financial responsibility

A lender can help you understand which documentation you need and how to obtain the required items.

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Establishing Credit Before Applying for a Non-Citizen Personal Loan

Before applying for a personal loan, it might make sense to try to establish credit beforehand. This can be difficult in the U.S., mainly because you need to be approved for credit to receive a credit score. But it’s easier to get approved for credit with a credit score.

There are some things a non-citizen can do, though, to build credit ahead of time potentially.

International Credit Report

If you’ve used credit in another country before coming to the United States, you might have a qualified international credit report. Different countries use various scoring models, but a lender can use your international credit report to understand your creditworthiness.

Secured Credit Card

In the U.S., you might be able to get a secured credit card as a non-citizen. By securing the card with a savings account, you can begin to use credit and build a credit score, making it easier to qualify for a personal loan later

Authorized User

A trusted friend or relative with a credit card can add you to the account as an authorized user, helping you build a credit history that way

Nontraditional Evaluation

Some personal lenders will allow other ways to verify your ability to handle bills. They might examine how you pay your internet and cell phone bills or check your rent record.

How to Apply for a Personal Loan as a Non-Citizen

Once you decide you’re ready to apply for a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen, here are the steps to take.

Shop Around for a Personal Loan Lender

Start by shopping around. Not every lender offers loans to non-citizens. Double-check to find lenders that are willing to provide loans to non-citizens. Looking online might help you narrow down the choices.

In addition to verifying that the lender makes loans to non-citizens, check into the documentation they require and the criteria they use to evaluate your creditworthiness. You need to find a lender that meets your needs and will likely provide terms that make sense. Consider comparing potential loans from three to five lenders.

Gather Your Documentation

Each lender has its documentation requirements. Make sure you review what you need to get before you apply for the loan. The lender must verify your identity, residency status, income, and ability to repay the personal loan. Here are some of the items that you might need to apply for a personal loan as a non-citizen.

  • State-issued ID, such as a non-resident driver’s license or another type of identification
  • Copy of your passport
  • Proof of your authorization to work in the United States (such as the I-765 form)
  • Proof of income at a stable job, including pay stubs, tax returns, and contact information for your employer
  • Copy of your visa or other residency status documentation
  • Information about your education, including whether you’ve earned a degree and where you earned it from

Having your documentation together ahead of time can make the entire process smoother and increase the chance you’ll be approved for your personal loan.

Try to Get Prequalified

In some cases, especially if you have a credit score based on a U.S. credit report, you can get an idea of what you will qualify for and the interest rate you can expect. This prequalification will take a look at your credit score and provide you with a tentative loan offer.

However, it’s important to note that prequalification doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the loan. After you compare different pre-qualified offers, you need to complete a loan application, and a final decision will be made.

Get a Cosigner

If you still need to establish a U.S. credit score, or even if you have one, you might need a cosigner to get approved for a non-citizen personal loan. A cosigner agrees to cover the loan payments and be responsible for the balance if you don’t make payments. A cosigner can increase the chances that you’ll be approved for a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen. Here’s what to look for in a cosigner:

  • A close friend or family member
  • Someone with good credit
  • A U.S. citizen or someone who has lived in the U.S. for at least two years
  • Someone who has the income to make regular payments if you don’t make payments

A cosigner should trust you and have a good relationship with you.

Prepare for the Process to Take a Little Longer

In some cases, U.S. citizens can have a personal loan approved in minutes and receive their funds as soon as the next business day. For non-citizens, the personal loan process can take a little bit longer. If you need the money immediately, you should turn to an alternative, such as borrowing from family and friends or seeing if you can get a pay advance from your employer.

If you have everything together, you might be approved in a few days and receive your personal loan afterward. It’s essential to consider the timing when applying for a personal loan as a non-citizen.

Bottom Line

A personal loan can cover an upcoming expense, consolidate high-interest debt or meet other obligations that come with living in a foreign land. However, getting a personal loan as a non-U.S. citizen requires extra time and documentation. Shop ahead and ensure you understand what you need to get the best results as you apply with lenders who offer non-citizen personal loans.