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The Best Personal Loans for H-1B Visa Holders

The H1-B visa program draws thousands of highly skilled immigrants to work in the United States each year. Buoyed by career success, many H1-B visa holders go on to become legal permanent residents and eventually U.S. citizens. They buy cars and houses, pay state and federal taxes, and help make America a richer and more dynamic place.

But they can’t do it by themselves. To fully participate in American society, H1-B visa holders and other skilled immigrant workers must participate in the U.S. banking and credit systems. Sooner or later, that means applying for credit.

Many U.S. lenders only accept applications from U.S. citizens and permanent residents, setting up something of a Catch-22 for newer arrivals. Fortunately, some creditors are more lenient, including the personal loan companies on this list.

The Best Personal Loans for H-1B Visa Holders

These personal loan companies accept applications from H1-B visa holders and holders of certain other work visas. Generally, you’ll need a Social Security number, U.S. address, and offer of employment to apply.

Each of these lenders does at least one thing really well, whether it’s offering high borrowing limits for higher-income applicants or curating offers from multiple lenders in one package. Our best overall lender delivers the optimal value for the widest range of would-be borrowers.

Best Overall: Stilt

Stilt Logo

Stilt is the best overall personal loan provider for H1-B visa holders and other recent immigrants because it has unusually expansive eligibility requirements and offers flexible loan terms. To qualify for a Stilt loan, you need only to:

  • Have a physical presence in the U.S. and a U.S. address
  • Have a U.S. phone number
  • Have a U.S. bank account
  • Have a valid visa for at least six months

Stilt accepts H1-B visas and many others, including F-1,O-1, J-1, L-1, TN, L-1, G-1, and special statuses such as DACA and Asylum.

Additional features:

  • Loan terms range from 12 to 36 months
  • Wide variety of loan purposes, including basic needs like paying a rental security deposit or supporting a family member back home
  • Borrow up to $35,000
  • Noncredit factors considered if you don’t have a credit score

Best for Higher Borrowing Limits: SoFi

Sofi Logo

SoFi has the highest loan limit of any provider on this list: $100,000. 

Not all applicants qualify for loans this size, however. The best-qualified applicants have ample incomes and assets, excellent credit, and long work histories. But being in the U.S. on a work visa is not necessarily an obstacle.

Additional features:

  • No origination fees
  • Excellent rates and terms for well-qualified applicants
  • Loan terms from 24 to 84 months
  • Access to a range of other credit products, such as student loans — which may be open to noncitizens and non-permanent residents
  • Access to banking and investing services

Best for Good Credit: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs Logo

If you have a credit score, Marcus by Goldman Sachs is your best bet for competitively priced personal loans. Although variable and tied to prevailing benchmark rates, Marcus has an unusually low interest rate range, and it’s known for providing favorable pricing to people with FICO scores above 660.

If you don’t have a credit score, Marcus may still accept your application. Its eligibility requirements state only that applicants must be physically located in the U.S., have a U.S. bank account, and have a Social Security number.

Additional features:

  • Borrow up to $40,000
  • No fees on personal loans
  • Special loan option for home improvements
  • Carry multiple Marcus loans at once if you qualify

Best for Credit Lines: Upgrade

Upgrade Logo

Upgrade is one of the few immigrant-friendly personal loan providers that also offers flexible credit lines. Depending on your creditworthiness and preference, you can choose to draw your credit line from one of four Upgrade credit cards:

Additional features:

  • No origination fees
  • Follow a set payoff schedule to make your cash flow more predictable
  • Apply for credit lines between $500 and $25,000 if you qualify

Best Online Loan Broker: Earnest

Earnest Logo

Earnest is a digital loan broker that works with many different personal lenders to find the best fit for your needs. 

Although it doesn’t make loans directly, Earnest’s broad network of lenders enables it to offer favorable rates and terms to a wide variety of borrowers. And if you’re in the market for other types of credit, such as student debt refinancing loans, Earnest can help with that too.

Additional features:

  • Borrow up to $100,000 if you qualify
  • Get the most competitive interest rates your borrower profile allows
  • Get loans with no origination fees if you qualify
  • Find lenders that use noncredit factors in underwriting

Methodology: How We Select the Best Personal Loans for H1-B Visa Holders

We use several key factors to evaluate the best personal loans for immigrants. Each relates to the qualification and underwriting processes, the borrower experience, or the nature of the loans themselves.

General Eligibility Requirements

Each of the lenders on this list offers loans to H1-B visa holders, but that’s where the similarities end. Eligibility requirements vary, and it’s important that you understand each prospective lender’s before going through the trouble of applying.

Credit Qualification

Not all of these lenders require applicants to have U.S. credit scores. However, some do, each requiring their own minimum credit score. And even lenders that don’t absolutely require applicants to have U.S. credit histories may offer more favorable rates and terms to those that do. 

Loan Terms

Personal loan terms generally range from two to seven years. Some lenders are more restrictive, offering three- or five-year terms only. Others cater to borrowers seeking shorter-term financing and offer terms as short as six months. Shorter-term loans are cheaper overall because there’s less time for interest to accrue.

Interest Rates

The personal loan industry is competitive, so you’ll notice that interest rate ranges don’t vary too much between lenders. But some lenders have carved out a niche for themselves at the lower end of the rate range — a boon for well-qualified borrowers with unblemished U.S. credit histories or ample incomes. 

By contrast, some lenders cater to higher-risk borrowers. They tend to charge more for credit.

Loan Type and Acceptable Uses

Most of the lenders on this list issue unsecured personal loans. Some offer credit lines or credit cards, which are really just flexible credit lines. 

Most personal loan providers allow their loans to be used for just about any legal purpose. A few are more restrictive — they specialize in debt consolidation and directly pay off creditors rather than disburse loan proceeds to borrowers. 

Loan Fees

In the world of personal loans, the most significant loan fee is the origination fee. Some lenders ask less-qualified borrowers to pay hefty origination fees — as high as 8% of the loan amount in some cases. If you’re in a position to shop around, look for loans with low or no origination fees.

Funding Speed

Once they’ve approved your loan application, personal loan companies generally get funds out the door quickly. But speed matters when you need money now, and the difference between next-day funding and next-week funding is real.

H1-B Visa Loan FAQs

You have questions about personal loans for immigrants. We have answers.

Do You Need a Social Security Number to Apply for an H1-B Visa Loan?

It depends on the lender. If your lender does require you to get a Social Security number before applying for your personal loan, you’ll need to gather the appropriate documentation. That includes but is not limited to:

  • Proof of employment eligibility, such as an offer letter
  • A valid passport from your home country
  • A copy of your arrival and departure letter(s)
  • A copy of your Social Security letter

You must be in the U.S. for at least 10 days before applying. Bear in mind that you won’t be able to work legally in the U.S. until you have a valid Social Security number, so it’s likely in your best interest to get one even if your lender doesn’t require it.

Can You Get an H1-B Visa Loan Without a Credit Score?

Yes, it’s often possible to get an H1-B visa loan without a U.S. credit score. Most of the lenders on this list use nontraditional underwriting processes that consider noncredit factors like income, employment, educational attainment, and U.S. assets. 

A U.S. credit history and a good U.S. credit score might help you get more favorable rates and terms on your loan, however. And even if you don’t need a FICO score or other relevant credit score, you’ll likely need a U.S. bank account to receive your loan proceeds.

How Much Can You Borrow With an H1-B Visa Loan?

That depends on the lender’s policies and the strength of your application. If your income is modest and you don’t have a U.S. credit score, your maximum loan amount might be quite low. If you’re a well-qualified applicant, you can likely borrow more. In either case, pay attention to lenders’ minimum and maximum loan amounts.

What Else Do You Need to Apply for an H1-B Visa Loan?

In addition to a valid H1-B visa and a U.S. bank account, you’ll need to prove that you have sufficient income, assets, and employment history to meet your lender’s standards. Every application process is a little different, but you should expect to be asked to provide:

  • Bank account statements or pay stubs
  • Proof of employment in the U.S.
  • Proof of recent work history and educational attainment, if relevant
  • Authorization for the lender to pull your credit report, if applicable

How to Choose the Best Personal Loan With an H1-B Visa 

A quick head-to-head comparison between this list and our list of the best personal loan companies makes clear that many lenders don’t accept applications from people in the United States on work visas, even if they’ve lived and paid taxes here for years.

That’s unfortunate, but H1-B visa holders and other folks in the U.S. on longer-term visas aren’t totally out of options. The lenders on this list are a varied bunch that collectively can serve a range of borrower needs. 

If you need to borrow a substantial sum, you’ll want to look to a lender that extends high borrowing limits to qualified applicants. If you don’t have a credit score, you’ll need to work with a lender with a nontraditional underwriting process. And if you do have good credit, you’ll want a partner that extends favorable rates and terms to well-qualified borrowers.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.