How International Students Can Get a Car Loan
If you’re an international student on an F-1/OPT visa or a working professional in the United States, you may have come to the conclusion that you need a car. The American way of life is appealing to many, but not everyone realizes how important vehicles are to this way of life. The United States was one of the first countries to explore the use of cars in everyday life and the US was the nation that revolutionized mass car production many years ago. Today, cars are heavily institutionalized and an integral part of American society.
Are there International Student Auto Loans in the U.S.?
The short answer is “yes” there are auto loans for international student car loans in the U.S. In theory, outside of federal student aid, international students and visa holders could qualify for most loans in the United States. The problem is that most lenders don’t want to work with non-U.S. citizens because they view immigrants as high-risk borrowers.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t get an international student auto loan in the U.S., though. Personal loans (discussed in more detail below) are a viable and immigrant-friendly loan option for international students who need a car in the U.S.
The 3 Requirements You Need for an International Student Car Loan
First things first: buying and driving a car in the United States. It’s definitely possible for foreign nationals, but the process of getting there is a bit lengthier. There are three things you need to get started:
You Need a Driver’s License
If you’re staying long-term, as in the case of an international student, a working professional, or an h4 visa holder, you may apply for a US driver’s license. You must have the required documentation to apply at a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Usually, this includes Form DS 2019, Form I-94, passport with visa, proof of legal presence or residence, a Social Security Number or Form SSA-L676, and any other documentation required by your particular state DMV.
For international students, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has a detailed fact sheet and set of resources to help aid foreign students get a driver’s license.
You Need Auto Insurance
US law requires all drivers to have insurance. You will not be able to acquire an auto loan without it. In some states, you will not even be able to apply for a driver’s license without auto insurance. Luckily, there are few barriers for international students and expats who need to find auto insurance in the US.
You Need an Auto Loan
While some international students have the funds required to purchase a car outright, most do not. There are not a lot of financial institutions in the US that will provide an auto loan for international students or working professionals.
The tricky part isn’t just gathering all of the required documents for the loan application. The required documents will vary from institution to institution and from state to state so it would be best to collect everything.
Minimum Documentation Required for Auto Loan as Foreign National
To get a loan in the U.S. as a visa holder, you will need to provide some specific documentation:
Finance Qualification Form
Because you have little-to-no credit history in the US, you will have to provide your lender information about your employment, living, and financial situation.
Whichever visa you have, you will need to bring a copy — acceptable visas include F-1, H-1B, L-1, J-1, O-1, and TN, among others.
Letter from Employer
You will need a confirmation of your employment status, salary, benefits, and terms of employment.
Bring copies of your utilities, rent, phone bill, cable, medical/life insurance, etc.
Proof of Lawful Presence
You must prove you’re in the United States lawfully. These documents include permanent resident or green card, driver’s license, employment authorization document card or visa with appropriate stamp.
How to Get a Personal Loan to Use as an International Student Car Loan
This process can be easier than you think, with the right lender. At Stilt, we pride ourselves on serving the immigrant community in the U.S., especially F1 visa holders and international students. To borrower with Stilt all you have to do is:
The first step in taking a loan with Stilt is to fill out our quick and simple application online. There’s no cosigner, no social security number, and no U.S. credit history required to apply either. Once you’ve applied, you’ll receive a decision with 24 hours.
Receive a Loan Offer
As mentioned, you will receive a decision about your application within 24 hours. If your application is approved, you will receive a loan offer via email. From there, you will be asked to provide the relevant documents (which will vary by loan type, but typically include things like your visa and proof of income). Once your documents have been uploaded, they’ll be reviewed and if everything looks good, you fund will be disbursed and will enter your bank account usually within 48 hours.
Start Making Payments
Once you’ve received your funds, the only thing to do is start making payments when the time comes. It’s that simple!
The next and most important step is acquiring financing to pay for your car. While many Americans simply apply for a loan while at a dealership, if you’re a foreign national, you may have some issues.
While some banks may offer you an auto loan, most will not. You could try your luck, or instead, you could use a service like Stilt. Companies like Stilt help non-US citizens acquire low-interest rate loans. The founders of the company recognized how difficult it is to get a loan without a credit score, which is the case for most non-US citizens.
Stilt can help automate much of the loan or loan refinance process for international students or working professionals. No SSN is required to apply for a loan, the interest rates on the loans Stilt offers are low, and the company can help immigrants deal with currency conversions and fluctuations instead of having them ask their parents for money. Many of the common issues non-US citizens face when applying for a loan can be avoided by using services like Stilt.