I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.See all posts Frank Gogol
H4 Visa Loan: What is an H4 Visa, and How Do You Get a Loan on One?
H1 Visa Holders are foreign nationals who have gotten hired by American companies, and who likely have a specialty skill or extraordinary ability that the company needs. They get temporary work status because their employer has recruited them and championed their visa application.
But what about their families? Picking up everything and moving to a new country is challenging. It’s even more challenging when you have dependents. You want to be close to your family, but the process of getting them settled comes with difficulties.
What is an H4 Visa?
The H4 Visa is for the spouse and children of H1B Visa holders. H1B visa holders have been recruited and sponsored by a US company to come work in the US, and an important part of that move is ensuring that their loved ones join them.
H4 Visa holders are allowed to accompany H1B Visa holders to the U.S for the duration of the H1B Visa holders stay. This makes sense; they go where their breadwinner goes, and leave when their breadwinner leaves. The H4 Visa keeps families intact.
Challenges of Getting a Loan an H4 Visa
It’s hard enough for H1B Visa holders to get a loan as a temporary worker without a credit history, yet it’s even more difficult for H4 Visa holders.
There are many things working against H4 Visa holders. Their temporary status is tied to their significant other’s temporary status. They also do not have a credit score or credit history, which is the main determinant of whether a bank grants a loan. Above all, they cannot seek employment which means they have no income of. It can seem overwhelming, and rightly so.
The only real recourse for an H4 Visa holder to get a loan is to be a promising student at a reputable institution, then an H4 Visa holder may have grounds for getting a loan through alternative means.
Conventional lenders like banks may turn you down, but do not give up hope. There are ways for H4 Visa holders to receive financial assistance, especially if you are a promising student.
How to Get a Loan on an H4 Visa
All of these strikes against H4 Visa holders can seem bleak — like you are not in control of your own destiny. You need not worry, especially if you are an enterprising student seeking financial assistance.
The US financial system is vast, and within that system, there are options. The farther away you go from banks, the less you will be defined by your credit score. There are options for you, here a few:
Online lenders tend to have a focus that sets them apart from banks. They look for people who live just outside the margins of where banks deny loan applications based on bad credit or no credit and look at a broader personal profile.
Stilt is one such lender. Their focus is providing financial assistance to those who may find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Students and immigrants have valid reasons for their lack of credit history or bad credit, and Stilt looks at factors like employment and school enrollment when deciding whether to grant a loan.
Online lenders like Stilt see the bigger picture when it comes to H4 Visa holders. A spouse of a working professional undertaking graduate studies has a lot of growth potential and Stilt recognizes that.
That’s why they offer loans to H4 Visa holders by having your H1B holding spouse co-sign for you. In other circumstances, an H1B Visa holder would not be able to co-sign, but since a reputable company has sponsored his stay, Stilt takes that to mean that they have quality references.
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One possible avenue for H4 Visa holders is secured loans. Secured loans mean putting up something valuable as collateral for the loan.
Because H4 Visa holders are in a disadvantaged situation, they may be able to compensate if they have anything passed down in their family, such as jewelry or art, that they may be able to secure a loan with.
Unfortunately, this is a catch-22 of sorts because the possessions typically used as collateral are the ones the borrower is looking to get the loan to buy (homes and vehicles).
However, a secured loan is a possible avenue for an H4 Visa holder because it’s a concrete piece of collateral used to offset the risk of the loan.
Are H4 Visa Holders Eligible for Financial Aid?
It’s difficult for H4 Visa holders to get financial aid in the form of a student loan. They are international students, and most student loans are only eligible to US citizens.
It puts H4 Visa holders between a rock and a hard place. Here they are, enterprising, ambitious, and accepted in a high-level program, yet they cannot turn to their home country for a loan and most US lenders only lend to US citizens.
H4 Visa holders are people who want things out of life as well, and the fact that they cannot receive financial aid in most cases must be very frustrating. It’s hard to go back to school at any age, and having to worry about affording it only makes succeeding at your studies more difficult.
Can H4 Visa Holders Get In-State Tuition?
One thing working in favor of H4 Visa holders is that they are likely eligible for in-state tuition. The cost of in-state tuition versus out of state tuition is steep, having to pay the tuition of international students paying out of state can be three or four times that of in-state tuition.
As long as the H4 visa holder has been with their H1B-Visa-holding spouse for more than a year, and that the two of them have been within the state where the H1B-holder has paid taxes for more than a year, then the H4 visa holder is eligible for in-state tuition.
This brings the cost of school down considerably and makes the whole venture seem more achievable. The less you need in student loans, the less you need to convince lenders of your creditworthiness.
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H4 Visa holders are in a difficult position; they are dependent on another temporary Visa holder for being in the country — although as of 2015, H4 visa holders are able to work on an EAD as long as the visa of H1B visa holder they’re dependant on is still valid. They can only work if their H1B visa holding spouse is close to permanent residency, which can be a years-long process. In essence, this can be extremely limiting and frustrating.
While they can further their education in the U.S, school is costly and they are restricted from raising the capital to go to school. Another headache.
Luckily, you are not the only one adding up these problems. There are online lenders, like Stilt.com, that have diagnosed this problem and provide alternatives for ambitious H4 Visa holders who are trying to upgrade their skill set by going to school.
They recognize that your significant other has been valued enough to be brought to this country and that you are trying to make something happen as well, by looking at your comprehensive personal profile you are more than your credit score, your someone who wants things out of life.