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What Is an International Personal Loan?

What Is an International Personal Loan?
Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Updated June 13, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
A personal loan is a type of loan that allows you to borrow a lump sum of money with few restrictions on how you must spend it. In return, you pay back the loan in monthly installments with interest. If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you can still get a personal loan in the U.S. However, you’ll need to find a lender that offers loans to non-US citizens (not all do) and meet certain requirements, which will vary from one lender to another. Here’s everything you need to know to get an international personal loan.

Can You Get a Personal Loan if You Aren’t a Citizen?

The short answer: Yes. However, the process can be harder than it is for U.S. citizens. The reason is that non-U.S. citizens represent higher risk to private lenders, who may fear you’ll end up leaving the country before you pay off the loan, leaving them on the hook for the remainder of your balance. As a result, international personal loans often have rigorous requirements, such as high credit scores or other documentation proving a strong credit history. You may also be asked to verify your income, your employment, and how long you plan on staying in the country.  Recommended: What Are the Pros and Cons of Personal Loans?

How to Find an International Loan Lender

Look online for lenders who specialize in international loans. They understand the process and have the expertise needed to help you obtain a loan. It’s also good idea to consider multiple lenders and compare loan rates and terms. Each lender will have different documentation requirements and offer different rates, terms, and conditions. 

Can I Get an International Personal Loan Online?

Yes, many lenders offer international personal loans online.

How Can Non-Citizens Qualify for a Personal Loan? 

The qualification process for personal loans for non-U.S. citizens varies by lender, but most lenders will be looking to see that you have a green card or valid visa that extends at least three years of the length of the loan. Many will also consider whether or not your visa is likely to be renewed.

Documents Needed for an International Personal Loan

You can improve your odds of approval for a non-U.S. citizen personal loan if you can show proof that you will be remaining in the country for the foreseeable future. For example, if you’re in school, you can demonstrate how long the program will last. If you have a job, you can offer work contracts that help prove how long you’re likely to remain with your current employer. Other documents and information you will likely need for the application process:
  • Identification: driver's license or other identification card.
  • Proof of address: utility bills, leases or other documentation with your address
  • Income verification: W-2, pay stubs, bank statements, or tax returns
  • Personal information: contact information, Social Security number
  • Employment information: employment status, employer's contact information
  • Education information: highest level of education obtained, area of study, GPA
  • A copy of your green card or visa 
  • An employment authorization form: I-765, I-766, or I-797A

Credit Qualifications

Many lenders require a U.S. credit history of two to six years for a personal loan. However, if you don't have a traditional credit history in the U.S, you can typically provide alternative information, such as: 
  • A credit report from a credit reporting agency in your home country
  • Records of on-time payments for at least two years such as rent, utilities, or insurance payments
  • References from other entities to which you’ve made on-time payments, such as college tuition payments.

Visas

To qualify for an international personal loan, you may be asked to show one of the following types of visas. 

H1B Visa

The H1-B visa is a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa category that allows employers to hire highly educated foreign professionals to work in “specialty jobs” that require at least a bachelor's degree or the equivalent.

E-1 Visa

E-1 visas allow individuals to enter the U.S. to engage in international trade on their own behalf. E-1 visas may also be given to their employees.

E-2 Visa

E-2 visas allow foreign nationals to work in the U.S. for certain businesses in which they have invested. 

G series Visa

G visas are required for diplomats, government officials, and individuals who work for international organizations. 

H2A Visa

The H-2A program allows U.S. employers to bring in foreign employees to fill temporary agricultural jobs. 

H2B Visa 

The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to bring in foreign employees to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. 

H-3 Visa

An H-3 visa allows a non-citizen to come to the U.S. temporarily as a trainee in any field or as a special education exchange visitor. 

J-1 Visa

J-1 visa holders are in the country to participate in approved programs for the purposes of conducting research, consulting, teaching, studying, observing, and receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training. 

L-1 Visa

L-1A and L-1B visas are issued when an employer petitions to allow qualified employees to live and work in the U.S.

O-1 Visa

A nonimmigrant visa, the O-1 program is for individuals with extraordinary skills in the sciences, arts, athletics, education, or business.

TN Visa

The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens entry into the U.S. to engage in business activities. 

U.S. Citizen Co-Signers

Some lenders will require a U.S. citizen to cosign a personal loan before they will issue one to a non-U.S. citizen. Cosigners agree to take full responsibility for the loan in the event that you leave the country or default on the loan

Personal Loan Term Length

Your term length is the amount of time you have to repay your loan. Term lengths vary by lender, but are typically anywhere from one to seven years. Personal loans with shorter terms typically have higher monthly payments, but may have lower interest rates. Loans with longer terms may have smaller monthly payments, but borrowers may pay more in interest over time.  

Alternatives to International Personal Loans

If you don’t qualify for a personal loan, you still have a couple of options. 

Joint Loans

Joint personal loans are loans that are taken out with a primary borrower and a co-borrower. Lenders will look at both borrowers’ credit history to make approval decisions. Co-borrowers are equally responsible for making on-time loans payments. Unlike co-signers, they also have equal ownership of the loan funds and equal say on how they should be spent.  

Credit Cards

Credit cards are an alternative to personal loans if you need to borrow money. Not all credit card issuers will work with non-U.S. citizens, however. And, applying for a credit card as a non-U.S. citizen can present some of the same issues as applying for a personal loan. Also keep in mind that credit card interest rates can be much higher than personal loan interest rates, making them a more expensive form of borrowing if you plan to carry a balance from month to month. 

The Takeaway

If you’re a non-U.S. citizen and you need money to cover the cost of travel, housing, or myriad other expenses, a personal loan can be an important tool. With the right documentation — including credit history, income, proof of employment, and a visa — you should be able to find a lender who will offer you a personal loan. If you’re interested in shopping around and comparing personal loan rates without making any type of commitment, Lantern by SoFi can help.  
Photo credit: iStock/shih-wei
The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.SOLC0222064

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Have to Be a Citizen to Get International Personal Loans?
How Can I Get an International Personal Loan?
Can I Get an International Personal Loan Online?

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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