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Getting a Loan While Living Outside the United States | Rules and Options


You may be happy to learn that it is entirely possible for a non-US resident to get a personal loan from a US bank, even if they are still living abroad. The process is involved and challenging to say the least, but the possibility is definitely there.

In this article, we’re going to explain some of the issues and caveats that may come up while you’re attempting to take out a loan in the US as a non-resident. The matter is fairly layered and complex, but we’ll do our best to explain everything in the simplest terms possible.

Why Would I Want to Get a Personal Loan from a US Bank Living Abroad?

It might sound nonsensical to some: why would a non-resident ever want to get a personal loan from a US banking institution? Doing so makes perfect sense if you’re trying to move to the US and want to have a running start.

There are many reasons you may want to move to the United States. Perhaps you want to open a business, sign up for college, or simply buy a home. Whatever your reasoning might be, know that you can apply for a loan from a US bank.

How to Get a US Loan as a Non-Resident?

Doing your due diligence will make all the difference here. You need to find the right lender and an appropriately designed program for everything to go well. You also need nerves of steel, because the process is bound to get bumpy, to say the least.

Important Prerequisites

The first step is to create a list of potential lenders. Be ready to chase down a truly exorbitant amount of paperwork if an opportunity rears its head. Here’s a list of eligibility requirements you will inevitably come across:

  • A local US address
  • A US co-signer
  • Good credit score (the exact number will vary, but it’s usually above 600)
  • A US bank account, possibly state-specific
  • Income verification (usually in place of credit score requirements)
  • A US employer

Note that it’s unlikely that any single bank or lender will require all of the above at the same time, but do be ready to disclose any combination of them, depending on the company’s specific conditions.

Of course, getting a US bank account or credit score will be impossible for most non-residents, unless they’re an ex-patriot. Online-specific lenders will likely be your best bet in this regard, as some don’t have such requirements in place.

Things to Keep in Mind

While you’re unlikely to be able to get an official US credit score rating as a person living abroad, it’s entirely possible to assemble a nontraditional report on your finances, and use that instead.

The most important thing is for you to establish a credit history, which you may be able to do with your local crediting agencies. Your job’s not over when you have your previous credit account paperwork in hand, however.

Not only will you need to convert previous credit history into a format that your lender will accept (usually standardized under the US credit rating system), but you’ll also want as many additional credit references as you can muster.

If you’ve already been living in the US for some time, you may have a history of paying rent and utilities. Your life insurance bill counts, too. Try to get at least three different credit references to go alongside your converted credit score, each showing at least 12 months of timely payments.

The more references of on-time payments and responsible financial behavior you have, the better the odds that you’ll get a loan in the end.

What Kind of Personal Loan Can I Get in the US While Living Abroad?

Broadly speaking, there are three main kinds of personal loans you can apply for in the US.

Secured / Unsecured Loans

A secured loan requires a major asset as a guarantee to the lender: usually a house or a car. If you are unable to pay your loan rates on time, the lender has the right to access your asset and sell it.

Featuring high-interest repayment rates and fixed contract terms, unsecured loans are not backed by your property, and max out at $100,000 in most cases. They are often used for large expenses such as home improvement projects.

Short-Term Loans

As the name implies, short-term loans are used to get smaller amounts of money with shorter repayment limits. Expect to be able to get up to $2,250 with a repayment of up to five years. Specifics may vary, of course.

Installment Loans

Another relatively small loan you might be able to qualify for, the installment loan comes with a more rigid payment structure than, say, an unsecured loan might have. They can last as short as only a few months, but you will have a set number of payments to contend with.

What’s particularly important about installment loans is that they can significantly improve your credit history and rating for larger loans in the future. If you’re making a long-term plan for life in the US, do keep these in mind.

Consider the graphic below as a summary:

What About Student Loans for Non-Residents?

If you’re a prospective student hoping to study in the United States, there is a way for you to secure the necessary funds. In this specific case, however, you’re almost certainly going to need a co-signer.

The potential co-signer needs to meet the following requirements to qualify:

  • Proof of US citizenship / a permanent residency in the US
  • Be able to prove that they’ve lived in the US for at least 2 years prior
  • A comprehensive income history
  • Good credit history

If you can ensure all of the above, you’ll have a shot at getting a US student loan even if you’re living abroad.

Now that you know what goes into getting a personal loan from a US bank as a non-resident, you’re ready to pursue more information from banks and lender companies.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be aware of the complexity of the task in front of you.

Regardless, there’s a good chance you’ll succeed in getting the loan you need if you come prepared. Good luck!