How to Get a Loan – For J1 Visa Holders

Updated on April 9, 2024

Every noncitizen in the US faces a set of challenges when it comes to living, working, and thriving. Immigrants on a J1 visa are no exception — and they have a few unique circumstances due to the nature of the visa.

Read on to get more clarity on what these challenges are, and how J1 visa holders can get the loan they need.

What is a J1 Visa?

A J1 Visa is a visa given on a temporary basis to someone who is staying in the States for a particular purpose. It’s a non-immigrant visa for students, scholars, and researchers who have been to the States on an exchange program or short-term ad hoc basis.

J1 Visa Holders are in an awkward position. Their visa is one degree shy a proper work visa, and their stay in the States can extend beyond a simple visit. If a professor comes from another country to work on a research project, he or she may be in the States for more than a year trying to achieve whatever they set out to achieve. The same goes for a student: their program or exchange could extend awhile. They may need a loan to finance their stay and be in a tough position as a borrower because their stay is indefinite.

Why is it Tough for J1 Visa Holders to Get a Loan?

J1 Visa holders may face difficulties getting a loan for two main reasons.

1. They have no credit history or experience within the US system. This is the primary way banks determine whether a borrower is trustworthy.

2. They may not be around to pay off their loan. Loans are typically paid off in installments, and J1 Visa holders are in the US for a limited period. Banks will be wary of that fact.

It’s tough for J1 Visa Holders, too:  they do not know how long they are staying and may need an auto loan, for example, to get a vehicle, which is a necessity for working in the United States. This situation may be overwhelming because the circumstances are uncertain and the J1 Visa Holder still needs to focus on whatever purpose they have for being in the US.

Some factors play in the J1 Visa Holders favor — they typically have a legitimate career or purpose for being in the States, such as being a professor or student. The esteem attached to these professions or purposes carries weight in the eyes of a lender and may compensate for some of the riskier variables. These professions come with a high income, the type of income that assures lenders that their loans will be paid.

4 Ways a J1 Visa Holders Can Get a Loan

Whether you need money to hold you over until you find a new job or your start-up costs are too much to bear, there are many reasons you might need a loan.

Here are four options:

1. Online Lenders

Online lenders are generally a good option for getting a loan. Given the lack of overhead and other efficiencies, they can offer better rates than traditional lenders. Unfortunately for immigrants, most online lenders will either:

1. Not give out loans to immigrants, or

2. Only do so at exorbitant rates.

Stilt is catered to immigrants with no credit and uses a formula to determine an applicant’s loan potential via many personalized factors — as opposed to whether they have a credit history or not.

Stilt offers loans to people with no credit history — a situation many J1 visa holders find themselves in J1 visa holders are likely well employed, so factors like the stability of employment and level of income are considered, instead of your lack of a credit history being held against you.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Being pre-approved for a loan is a way to navigate around no credit history: it means that you’ve had your occupation, income, and other telling identifiers screened to make you a more eligible candidate. This preapproval plays in favor of the J1 Visa Holder, whose occupation is highly regarded and income is substantial.

If you arrive at a lender with a pre-approvement, they are more likely to consider what was pre-approved rather than seeking out that information on their own. Some may consider you when they would have dismissed you based on your temporary status and your lack of credit experience. It is a good extra measure to take if you are faced with the disadvantages of being a J1 Visa Holder.

3. Peer-to-Peer Lending

One potential avenue for the J1 Visa Holder is to connect with a lender on a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending site. A P2P platform acts as a meeting platform for borrowers with bad credit, and lenders who are competing with traditional lenders.

These individuals may take into account more personal information, and you may be more than your credit score.

Researching online and identifying the right individual lender may be in a J1 Visa Holder’s best interest.

The right individual lender may even be interested in what the J1 Visa Holder is doing which means they may want the J1 Visa Holder to complete their purpose for being the US. The specific details surrounding their stay, maybe some important medical research, may compensate for the potential downsides.

4. Banks

You may want to try banks simply because they are the most traditional form of lenders with a built-in reputation.

However, being the most traditional, they are also the least willing to overlook no credit history. Most banks are institutions, and most institutions have rigid standards that do not take into account the particular details of an individual’s situations.

Factors like your lack of credit history and temporary status will likely deter most banks. It’s useful to see if your application or particular branch is the exception, and what standards lenders apply to J1 Visa Holders. There may be some banks who are willing to provide a loan but not many.

Can J1 Visa Holders Get a Car Loan?

Yes, as a J1 visa holder, you can easily secure a loan to buy a car, either new or used, in the USA. The best and the quickest way to do so is to avail a personal loan and then use it to pay off the on-road price of the car.

While the interest rate for personal loan usually tends to be higher than that of car loans, there are situations where it makes complete sense to use a personal loan for buying a car, rather than availing auto loans. Let’s find out how personal loans could be the better option compared to auto loans to finance your car purchase.

Personal loans, being unsecured and easy to avail, have several advantages over the typical auto loans. While auto loans require some sort of collateral, usually in the form of your car, personal loans can be availed at any time without any mortgage requirements.

The application and approval process for a personal loan is quite faster compared to traditional car loans. If you have a good credit score, you get nearly instant approval on personal loans. Auto loans can take as much as 2-3 weeks to go through various phases of processing and approval.

Moreover, auto loan typically requires you to pay a certain amount of down payment to the dealer, which you can avoid by financing your car through pre-arranged personal loans. Last, but not the least, for the immigrant community in the USA, it is much easier to secure personal loans compared to other types of loans.

So these are the factors that influence several buyers to buy new cars using personal loans. If you are concerned about the legality of the procedure, then rest assured that it is perfectly legal and safe. There is no rule whatsoever that prevents you from using personal loans for buying a car!

How to Take a Loan with Stilt?

The availability of an online loan application provides Stilt customers with an edge over the traditional over-the-counter banking approach. You can apply for and get your loan approved without having to physically visit any Stilt branch offices.

First, you need to create a customer account on the official Stilt website. Then browse through the loan section to find the types of loan you are looking for. Don’t forget to go through all the terms and conditions as well as the eligibility criteria before applying.

You need to submit the filled in online application form with supporting documents. Stilt verifies the authenticity of your financial status before taking the final decision. Once your loan application gets approved, you are duly notified through email/SMS and the approved amount gets transferred to your bank account. The whole process usually takes no more than 2-3 days.

Rest assured that you will find the loan application and approval process at Stilt to be extremely convenient, seamless and highly satisfying. So what are you waiting for? Create a customer account with Stilt and breeze through the period of your financial crisis.

Personal Loans
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Loans for up to $25,000. No cosigner required. No prepayment penalty.


Being a J1 Visa Holder comes with a lot of uncertainty. The holder is in the United States for a reason, usually an academic one. This reason may leave the J1 Visa Holder in the US for an extended time, and they may need to make purchases that require financing. Traditional lenders like banks may shy away from J1 Visa holders because of their lack of credit history and temporary status.

However, all is not lost for the J1 Visa holder. Online lenders like Stilt, and peer to peer platforms, may consider factors such as income level, reasons for staying, and employment. The less traditional yet reputable lenders have to compete with banks so to do so they offer favorable terms to those with bad or no credit history.

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