Personal Loans for H1B Visa Holders: Your Best Options
Posted by Frank Gogol
H1B Visa holders have just gotten a job in the United States and are being backed by the company that hired them. That’s a big leap of faith by both the foreign national turned foreign worker, and the company who has hired them.
When you get a new job, you hope that it will last a long time — but a non-immigrant visa like the H1B only grants temporary status. That means the life that you set up in the USA has an element of uncertainty.
On top of this, you may feel that as a non-permanent resident, you will have difficulty getting a loan. H1B Visa holders are usually immigrants without a US credit history. Typically in the States, you are defined by your credit score.
However, all is not lost. There are ways for H1B Visa holders to get loans. H1B loan applications actually have an advantage: an American company is already vouching for your purpose in the US. They have seen in you some extraordinary ability that they could not find in America.
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What is the H1B Visa?
The H1B is a non-immigrant visa given to foreign workers looking for temporary status. You have demonstrated your extraordinary ability to a US company, and the company has decided to sponsor your H1B visa so that you can work for them.
As an H1B Visa holder, you are a non-permanent resident. You have temporary status with an explicit purpose.
Benefits of Personal Loans for H1B Holders
For the H1B holder, getting a personal loan offers a host of benefits while living in the U.S.:
One of the biggest advantages of getting a loan as an H1B holder in the U.S. is that it’s an opportunity to establish and build credit. For a lot of visa holders in the U.S., a lack of credit history can limit access and availability to lines of credit.
As an H1B holder just arriving in the U.S., there will be a lot of large expenses upfront:
- relocation-related costs
The problem for a lot of visa holders is that they arrive in the U.S. work, but don’t receive their first paychecks for several weeks or more after beginning. A personal loan is a quick way to offset these costs so that you can live comfortably and get settled in the U.S.
Take Advantage of Better Interest Rates
Another great thing available to H1B holders who come to the U.S. is the opportunity to refinance. Many visa holders have high-interest loans in their home countries that can be a financial burden. But in the U.S., better interest rates are available for H1B holders. Refinancing your loan with the right American lender could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a loan.
Why Most Lender Won’t Work with H1B Visa Holders
As an H1B visa holder in the U.S. who is considering taking a personal loan, you may have noticed that the options are limited. The truth is, most lenders don’t want to lend to immigrants. Their reasons vary, but the most common ones are:
- Your visa
- Your temporary status
- Your limited credit history
Virtually all American lenders make it a point not to work in visa holders. For them, H1B visa holders are considered “high-risk” because visa holders travel outside of the country, which to them means you might leave the U.S. and never pay back your loan. If you were considering or have applied for a Discover personal loans for non-U.S. citizens, then you were likely denied for this reason.
It doesn’t stop there, though. Even lenders who claim to visa holder-friendly make it very hard for immigrants to access lines of credit and loans. Take for instance the DCU personal loan for H1B visa holders. On the surface, it seems like a loan designed specifically to meet the needs of H1B holders in the U.S. But once you realize that a credit score is a major factor in their decision process, you understand that new immigrant to the U.S. are essentially ineligible, as most visa holders have no U.S. credit history.
How to Get a Personal Loan on an H1B Visa
It’s very likely as an H1B visa holder that you are a freshly graduated student with extraordinary abilities, but little-to-no credit experience in the US.
Being a student means you are likely too young to have had a chance to build your credit score, and being an immigrant means that you haven’t been in the States long enough.
There are ways for H1B visa holders to get an H1B loan. Despite the lack of credit experience, you are wanted in America, and there are lenders out there who will look at your comprehensive personal profile when deciding on whether to give you a loan.
1. Online Lenders
Banks often see only your credit score. They are the traditional source for loans so they can afford strict standards.
One of your best bets is to go online and do some research. Some online lenders are competing with banks who are willing to look at your comprehensive personal profile.
Stilt is one such lender that is designed to help immigrants and students. They are a reputable online lender that provide H1B loans by looking at your comprehensive personal profile, instead of judging you based on your credit score. Stilt specializes in helping underserved populations so factors like your recent employment and salary may lead to reasonable rates. With Stilt, you can expect loans ranging from $1,000 to $25,000, with annual rates that start at 7.99%.
For those with bad credit and no credit, Badcreditloans.com handles the worst cases. The site is not a lender itself, but a peer-to-peer platform, one that will link you up to lenders willing to give chances. Badcreditloans.com has loans that range from $500 to $5,000 and may be a potential avenue for you, even though their interest rates can be steep.
Avant is a competitive online lender that upon acceptance, pays you within a day. The only issue is that they focus is on credit scores within the 600 to 700 range, not those without credit experience or 600 or below credit scores. Additionally, they operate with the speed of a payday loan. Loans from Avant can be anywhere from $2,000 to $35,000, although their APRs start at about 9.95%.
2. Credit Unions
Credit unions are in place to help certain classes and demographics of people get financial assistance. They are membership-based, and if you are an immigrant of a certain ethnicity, then you may find this to be a useful alternative to a bank.
Because credit unions cater to specific demographics, they may be more inclined to take into account comprehensive personal profiles. However, credit unions have a finite pool of resources that they can distribute to their membership; this means that many credit unions come with higher interest rates for personal loans. And, even though they’re more lenient than banks when giving out loans, they still don’t take into account as many factors as Stilt does.
3. Use Your Employer as a Co-signer
In most cases, foreign workers or students will have difficulty finding a co-signer. Students in need of a student loan or immigrants in need of a personal loan have not made the social connections needed to find a co-signer with a solid credit history.
Students surround themselves with young people, most of whom are in a similar position as them with regards to having little credit experience.
In the case of immigrants, they often have not been in the country long enough to network with possible co-signers.
However, in the case of H1B visa holders, their employer is almost a built-in co-signer. Their employer is already sponsoring their work visa, so they have a vested interest in the success of their employee.
They are likely to understand that you will need an H1B loan and do not have a credit score. So that they may be willing to help you get a personal loan, you need to have a residence and a vehicle, i.e. be comfortably settled in and productive.
As an H1B visa holder, you are a non-permanent resident who is in the U.S. because a company has hired you for your extraordinary ability. You may be a foreign national who was a grad student in the US, went back to your home country, and is returning to work in the States.
The H1B visa makes you a temporary resident. Payday loan outfits and banks typically shy away from non-permanent residents without a credit score. This can be daunting for a foreign worker who needs a personal loan to finance their start in the U.S.
There are options for you. There are online lenders who will cater to you specifically, like Stilt.
By taking into account your comprehensive personal profile instead of treating you like your credit score, online lenders may see the fact that you have been recruited to work in the US for a reason.
If you get your employer to cosign for you, you may be able to secure a personal loan for favorable interest rates.