The Guide to Funding Your Spouse’s Education (Who is on an H-4 Visa)
Every year, there are thousands of men and women that move to the U.S. after marriage. Most of them have a great education and some even have great careers back home — but when they move to the U.S., they aren’t able to work. They move here with dependent H-4 visas.
In this article, we will go into details of the H-4 Visa, its restrictions, and what you can do to continue your professional life in the U.S. after attaining an H-4 Visa.
What is an H-4 visa?
An H-4 visa is a dependent visa given to family members of the H-1B visa holders. Only spouses and children of H-1B holders are eligible for an H-4 visa. Parents, siblings, and relatives are not eligible for this. This visa allows spouses to come to the U.S. and stay here as dependents until the respective H-1B visa holder is in the U.S.; if the H-1B visa is not renewed or is revoked, the H-4 visa also becomes invalid.
What are H-4 visa holders allowed to do?
H-4 visa holders can either study or work in the U.S., but there are some requirements.
Requirements for working in the US as an H-4 visa holder:
- Without I-140 approval, an H-1B visa holder can only study, and must change their visa to F-1 to go to school
- With I-140 approval, an H-1B visa holder can work full-time or part-time without restrictions
How should you decide what school to go to?
If your spouse’s employer hasn’t filed for a green card yet, then you can’t legally work with an H-4 visa. Even if the green card is filed, you can only work after your I-140 PERM application is approved. Before I-140 approval, your only choice is to go to school, which could be a good thing if you still haven’t completed your graduate education or if you want to move to a different field. Plus, after you graduate, your chances of finding a job increase significantly compared to if you’ve never worked in the U.S. before.
Deciding what school to go to depends on specific situations, such as previous work experience, type of industry, and availability of funding for school. In most cases, getting a loan to go to a school in the U.S. is really difficult: no banks or credit unions give a loan for education to non-U.S. citizens. They require either a U.S. citizen cosigner or your permanent residency to approve a loan, which is a catch-22 for most individuals.
If you already have funding, then it could be easy for you to choose to go school right away. Just remember that you’ll still have to take standardized tests such as GRE/GMAT/TOEFL. If you plan to start school, you should start studying for them sooner rather than later. Since the scores stay valid for a while, you can always choose to go to school well after taking the exam.
How can you get an education loan on H-4 visa?
As an international student, it is extremely difficult to get a loan in the U.S. This is especially true for people who are on an H-4 visa, as they find themselves stuck in a situation where their home-country banks (usually Indian) can’t lend or have a very lengthy and tedious process to do so, and then U.S. banks don’t give student loans to non-U.S. citizens on a visa.
U.S. banks need a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen. Most people either don’t have one or don’t want to ask someone. This is because the loan remains on the cosigner’s profile for a long time until it’s completely paid off.
The 2 ways to get an education loan with Stilt as an H-4 holder
Stilt is one of the new companies that has specifically created a loan product for H-4 visa holders. There are two ways to get a loan with Stilt.
1. Spouse as the co-signer
We can grant loans in situations where the spouse acts as a cosigner. Even though other companies require a U.S. citizen cosigner, Stilt can accept a non-U.S. citizen cosigner as a spouse. Your spouse can continue to make payments and save on interest.
2. Spouse applies for a loan directly
If the spouse doesn’t mind applying for a loan, then the process is even faster and the loan will show up on only one person’s credit history.
How does the loan process for H-4 visa holders work?
Stilt’s loan application process is designed for immigrants and visa holders who haven’t had the chance to build enough credit in the U.S. Since the US is a credit-based society, building a good credit score is important and takes a while.
Loan Application Process for H-4 Visa Holders
The application process is fairly straightforward and intuitive for visa holders:
- Create an account
- Complete your profile — personal, visa, and financial information
- Apply for a loan — amount required, repayment term, payment start date, etc.
- Get a decision in less than 24 hours
That’s it! Our loans are processed quickly and you can have funds in your account in just 1 day.
Can my spouse apply for my education loan?
Yes, absolutely. Many H-1B visa holders apply for a loan for their spouse since they have a stable job, better credit history, and the ability to pay back the loan faster. We have seen that this allows for a faster turnaround process from Stilt without hassles. In one of the recent loans, a prospective borrower tried to get a loan from India and spent 2 months trying to get a loan. At Stilt, he was approved and had funds in his account in 2 days.
As a general rule, the person with a stable job, higher salary, positive cash flows, and better credit will get approved for the loan quicker and with lower rates.
Do you send the funds directly to the school?
We can send the funds directly to the school if required by the borrower; otherwise, we deposit the funds directly into your U.S. bank account. You can then use the funds for tuition, books, living, and other expenses.
The process of sending the funds directly to the school works better if your school accepts debit cards for payments. We can make a payment with our debit card and you won’t have to worry about anything.
Can a loan be approved before getting an admission letter from school?
If an H-4 visa holder is applying for a loan for themselves, then the loan can only be processed with an admission from the university. Sometimes, we may transfer the funds directly to your school.
If your spouse on H-1B is applying for a loan, then Stilt can approve the loan before you receive a final admission letter. You can keep the funds in your account to get an I-20 approval.
Does Stilt disburse the whole loan at once?
Yes. We finish the complete loan process in a day or two and transfer the funds to your bank account or school. This allows for less overhead and a clear payment schedule for the borrower. If the loan is disbursed over time, it gets confusing in terms of interest charged and payment due dates.