Getting a Personal Loan on OPT for F1 Visas

Updated on April 9, 2024

When F1 visa students finished their academic program, they may find that they do not want to return to their home country. Unfortunately for them, the F1 visa requires them to leave the US within 60 days of completing their academic program.

With no time to apply for a permanent residency before they face deportation, the visa holder may feel hopeless. However, there is an option for an international student to continue their stay in the US.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows students to continue living in the US by working in a field related to their studies.

A student can stay in the US for up to 12 months while participating in an OPT, and can qualify for a one-time extension of 17 months if they meet the following requirements:

  • An F1 student who received a STEM degree
  • Are employed by an employer using E-Verify
  • Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on their STEM degree

To apply for an OPT, you must request to be recommended for the OPT by your school. This leads to filling out a Form I-20 and filing a Form I-765. Once submitting with some supporting documents and fees, you will receive either approval or denial from the USCIS to participate in an OPT.

If you get authorized for an OPT, you will only be able to work part-time while school is in session (pre-completion OPT). When school is not in session, or once you have completed your academic program (post-completion OPT), you have the option of work part-time or full-time.

Affording the Stay

Many international students find that working part-time, or even full-time, is often not enough to support their living expenses. Rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and other living expenses quickly add up, and if the visa holder is still in school when while participating in an OPT, they also have to add in tuition expenses as well.

Personal loans can give international students on OPT assistance in covering upcoming expenses while being able to relieve some of the stress that comes with financial hardships.

If an international student finds themselves short on cash, even while working through an OPT, a personal loan can allow them to stay on top of their payments without worrying about going over their work hours or impeding their academic studies.

For an international student facing the struggles of keeping up with their finances, getting an education and working a part-time job, a personal loan can be an immense help until they get their finances back on track.

4 Options for Personal Loans on OPT Visa

Unfortunately, for many international students who don’t have a cosigner or prior credit history in the US, there aren’t many options for them to receive personal loans.

Many favorable lenders don’t provide loans to international students, and the lenders that do provide international student loans end up being hurtful in the long run.

High Rate, Quick Options

The lenders that are available to international students offer quick loans, but with high rates. Although these lenders may seem like good options at first due to their easy application process, they end up only adding to the student’s financial worries in the future when it comes time to pay off the loans.

Credit Unions and Banks

You will find that many banks and credit unions offer personal loans for students, however many of these options require you to have a credit history or an existing account with them such as a credit card or debit card.

Although banks and credit unions are excellent for students since they typically offer benefits such as overdraft protection or great customer service, many international students end up not qualifying for those personal loan options since they are non-permanent resident aliens.


International students don’t have to resort to high-interest lenders to receive a personal loan. Stilt is an online lender dedicated to helping students and immigrants build a better financial future.

Here at Stilt, we believe that international students shouldn’t let their lack of a credit history or cosigner prevent them from receiving low-cost loans. To provide competitive loans to foreign applicants, we take a holistic approach in determining interest rates by looking at the applicant’s education, work experience, income, and financial behavior to give them the lowest rates.

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Frank Gogol

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.

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