Business Loans For Immigrants: How To Get Financing For Non-US Citizens

Camino Financial10 Jan 2024
Business Loans For Immigrants: How To Get Financing For Non-US Citizens

Loans for immigrants help non-residents make their projects a reality, whether business or personal.

Fortunately, nowadays, there's a growing recognition of the unique financial needs of this group. Several lenders offer loans that can come as lifelines. This guide dives into immigrant business loans, shedding light on the nuances, challenges, and solutions available. Let's start this journey together and demystify the financial landscape ahead.

Can Immigrants Get Loans In The US?

Yes! It is possible to access a loan even if you're an immigrant without a valid visa. Some organizations and companies understand the challenges of being an immigrant entrepreneur in the US and are willing to advance the capital. The process and availability might differ depending on their immigration status, credit history, and specific loan requirements. Here's a breakdown of how this can work for different types of immigrants:
  • Permanent Residents And Green Card Holders: Permanent residents and green card holders have access to loans, similarly to US citizens. They can apply for personal loans, student loans, mortgages, and business loans, with their credit history in the US being a significant factor in loan approval and interest rates.
  • Non-Permanent Residents: Non-permanent residents, including work visa holders, can also access various loans, but they may face more restrictions. Lenders might require additional documentation, such as proof of visa status and employment.
  • Undocumented Immigrants: It can be challenging for undocumented immigrants to access traditional loans from banks and credit unions. However, some alternative lenders and community organizations offer microloans and other financial services to undocumented individuals.

Top Loans For Undocumented Immigrants

Camino Financial

Camino Financial's logo At Camino Financial, we work with immigrants. Applying for a loan with us is very easy.
  • Our loan amounts range between $10,000 and $50,000 to fit your business needs.
  • 24-month fixed repayment term.
  • You need an SSN
Here are some of our benefits:
  • We don't charge prepayment penalties.
  • No hidden fees.
  • We offer fixed monthly payments.
  • You can renew your loan after 12 on-time payments.
Start growing your business with the help of a lender that understands you! We are willing to help you build your dreams.  Apply now!

Small Business Administration

SBA logo The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers immigrant loans to eligible small business owners who may not have access to traditional financing. You can use these loans for various purposes, including start-up costs, working capital, and business expansion. To qualify for an SBA immigrant loan, you must:
  • Operated the business for at least 12 months before the application date or have a personal guarantee for the loan.
  • Have enough U.S.-based collateral to repay the loan in full at any time during its term.
If you want to apply, you can read the eligibility rules for immigrant loans, a section called "C. Businesses Owned by Non-U.S. Citizens," explaining all you need to do.

Lending Club

lending club logo You can use Lending Club's loans for various purposes, including purchasing a home, starting a business, or paying for education. They have a simple application process and provide financing to start or expand businesses. Loan amounts vary depending on the borrower's needs. The minimum loan size is $500, while the maximum is $35,000.

How To Get Business Loans

Requirements To Apply For Business Loans For Immigrants

These are the most common loan requirements:
  • Full name
  • Address
  • A monthly income that meets the lender's threshold
  • If you have a bank account (learn here about loans without a bank account)
  • Your SSN (some lenders accept ITINs)
  • The desired loan amount
  • That you have a fair credit score
  • Your business name
  • Its address
  • Financial information for the business
#DidYouKnow A personal loan application process usually requires less information and is quicker, compared to a commercial loan one.
Some online lenders may require applicants to prove their residency status before they can approve the loan. The most common are:
  • Certain types of Visas. (Some lenders lend to immigrants with valid visas, such as TN, E, J-1, H1-B, and O (not required by Camino Financial).
  • A Social Security Number

Other Factors That Impact Loan Eligibility

  • Employment. A stable job signifies consistent income and the capability to repay debts.
  • Income. While lenders have minimum income requirements, they consider the overall financial picture, including salary, business earnings, savings, and debt-to-income ratio.
  • Visa Status. Permanent residents or those with long-term work visas have an edge. Still, some institutions offer loans to temporary visa holders based on other strong credentials.
  • Future Plans. Sharing long-term aspirations, like your plans for your business, can enhance loan application credibility.

How To Apply For A Loan As A Non-US Citizen

  1. Decide on a loan amount and research multiple lenders. Check their terms and requirements and choose the one that best fits your needs.
  2. Complete an application. Depending on the lender, you might be able to complete it online. Several lenders will let you know instantly if you prequalify.
  3. Share documentation.
    • For a business loan, you might need to share proof of company registration, licenses, permits, and last year's tax returns.
    • For personal loans, you must show an identification card and provide proof of address (like utility bills) and income (like pay stubs or your employer's contact information).
  4. Wait for a decision. The financial institution will review your information and check your personal credit history. If the lender approves your loan, they'll send a contract with the business loan's terms and interest rate.
  5. Sign the loan contract. Then, you will receive the money directly in your bank account.

What Are The Best Types Of Lenders For Immigrants?

  • Online Lender. They offer a faster and more convenient option than banks since their requirements are more flexible. It is possible to compare rates and apply in a matter of minutes. Also, you can receive the loan funds directly into your bank account in a few days.
  • Credit Union. They assist immigrants, who usually avoid turning to banks because of their stricter requirements, including an SSN. The basic requirements are submitting your rent records or bills for public services and an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).
Camino Financial is an online lender with a straightforward approach. Apply now!

3 Ways To Improve Your Approval Chances

  • Get a Co-signer. Boost loan credibility by having someone with good credit back your application.
  • Use ITIN Number. Find lenders accepting Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers as an alternative to SSNs.
  • Seek Immigrant-Friendly Lenders. Explore community banks and online platforms specifically catering to immigrants' financial needs.

Types Of Business Loans For Immigrants In The USA

Business Term Loans

Small business loans are financial products designed to help business owners with small companies. The loan amount is usually conservative (no more than $400,000), and repayment terms range between 1 and 5 years. You can spend them for practically any business use (most lenders have restrictions, though). Most owners use the loan proceeds to expand their businesses, hire new employees, consolidate debt, patch a gap in cash flow, or purchase machinery, for example. The requirements for these types of loans are not as strict as those for other lending products, making them an excellent option for immigrants without a credit history.

Equipment Loans

This financing alternative focuses on businesses with a high demand for equipment and tools, such as workshops, construction companies, restaurants, beauty salons, etc. The collateral needed is the piece of equipment itself. This means you will not have to offer your personal assets as collateral. To apply for equipment loans, you must submit a quote including the equipment's price, an established credit history, and other business documents. The useful life of the equipment determines the term of this type of capital.

SBA Business Loans

The Small Business Administration offers affordable loans to naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, lawful non-permanent citizens, asylees, and refugees.  The agency reviews immigration paperwork, a business owner's credit score and history, and other required documentation. Applicants work with a loan specialist to meet the SBA requirements based on their immigration status and eligibility for a specific SBA loan. The loans are some of the best small business loans available for immigrants because of their low-interest rates.

Personal Loans For Business Purposes

Undocumented individuals may also be able to access a personal loan to finance their businesses. However, you should consider whether the amount (which is usually relatively less than in other types) is enough to cover your needs.

What Are Alternatives To Business Loans?

Business Credit Cards

Some credit card issuers accept applicants with no SSN, like Capital One, Discover It, US Bank, and OpenSky. The best thing about business credit cards is that you can use them practically anywhere and offer benefits and rewards. A business credit card helps immigrants build credit. This is a significant benefit because most immigrants have not yet established credit history in the US. Plus, if you use the card responsibly by paying the balance in full each month, most credit card companies will increase the spending limit after 6 months.

Using A 0% Intro APR Period As A Short-Term Loan

Some cards come with an enticing 0% introductory APR period. Essentially, they won't charge you any interest on your balances during this period. It's like getting a short-term, interest-free loan. This "loan" can cover initial costs or unexpected expenses. But a word of caution: Always be aware of when this period ends. Once it does, the regular interest rates kick in, and they can be steep. So, be diligent in paying off your balance before the 0% period expires.

Friends And Family

When external sources seem daunting, turning to friends and family can be a viable alternative. However, mixing business with personal relationships can be tricky. To avoid potential misunderstandings, it's always a good idea to draft a formal agreement, even if it's with your closest confidant. Specify the loan terms, repayment schedule, and any interest involved.

Merchant Cash Advances

With an MCA, you'll receive an advance on future sales made with credit and debit cards. In return, you will have to pay a percentage of those sales plus a fee. They are a quick way to get working capital in the short term. You don't need to put up collateral or have a high credit score. Although the application and approval process is simple, cash advances are incredibly costly, and the loan amount depends on your sales.

Immigrant Business Grants

Business grants are more attractive than loans because you do not have to repay the money. But this also means a lot of competition, and the application process can be complex. Non-profit organizations or state governments usually offer these products.

Wilson/Fish Alternative Program For Refugees

The US Department of Health and Human Services's assistance program promotes employment, cash, and other help to immigrants. These grants come through states and voluntary and non-profit resettlement agencies. To receive assistance from this program, immigrants must prove their immigration status or submit an asylum letter.

Microenterprise Development Program For Refugees

This program, run by the Department of Health and Human Services, has the goal of helping immigrants start or expand their businesses. In addition to providing money, this program also offers training in critical areas, such as accounting, marketing, and administration.

Rural Business Development Grants

Administered by the US Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, this program focuses on rural areas and those who do not necessarily work in agriculture. The program offers assistance through working capital, training, and real estate, among other resources. Only companies with less than 50 employees whose income doesn't exceed $1 million can access this grant.

Other Types Of Loans That Immigrants And Non-Residents Can Access

Personal Loans

Personal loans are general-purpose products for almost any expense. Some lenders specialize in offering personal loans to immigrants, even those with no or little credit history. They might assess other factors like your job, education, and even the potential of your future earnings. So, personal loans can be your go-to option, whether it's for consolidating debts, buying that much-needed gadget, or taking a small vacation. Some of the top personal loans for non-US citizens are:
  • SoFi
  • Upgrade
  • One Percent for America
  • Mission Asset Fund

Student Loans

Pursuing education is a significant motivator for many individuals relocating to new countries. However, the financial burden of tuition fees and other academic expenses can be overwhelming. This is where a student loan comes into play. These loans are specifically tailored for students who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of the host country. Although they might carry higher interest rates due to increased perceived risk, the presence of a resident or citizen co-signer can potentially mitigate this. Additionally, some lenders emphasize the prospective student's field of study and future earning potential, facilitating a smoother qualification process.

Mortgages

Owning a property is a dream for many immigrants, and mortgages for non-residents make this dream attainable. These mortgage loans are for those who wish to purchase real estate but may lack the extensive credit history usually required by lenders. These mortgages might have slightly elevated interest rates and may necessitate larger down payments, so it is vital to explore different options, compare offers, and negotiate to secure the best possible deal.

The Importance Of Small Immigrant Businesses In America

For decades, immigrants have driven the economy of the United States. A report by the New American Economy found that, in 2017, about 3.2 million immigrants ran their own businesses. That's one in every five entrepreneurs in the country. Plus, according to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Fiscal Policy Institute, between 2000 and 2013, immigrants accounted for 48% of the growth in US business ownership. The data suggests a considerable potential in this population's impact on the country's economy in general. Despite these revealing numbers, loans for undocumented immigrants can be tough to access.

The Importance Of Lending To Immigrant Small Business Owners

For many, achieving the American dream is not so easy. It can sometimes feel impossible for immigrants to access the capital they need to invest in their goals. Why is starting a business so hard for immigrants in the US? The lack of a social security number, cultural gaps, language gaps, prejudices, and injustices. But the fighting spirit of immigrants outweighs all of these factors. Let's take the Latino community as an example. According to the SBA, "There are an estimated 4.65 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the US, making them the fastest-growing segment of US small businesses." Despite the lack of access to finance, immigrants continue to be one of the pillars that sustain the United States economy. To make matters worse, some banks do not serve people with "pending" immigration status, so stringent requirements and prejudices still prevail. For this reason, the immigrant community traditionally resorts to using their savings or asking for money from family and friends. Apply now!

FAQ

Do banks give loans to foreigners?

Some banks work with foreigners as long as the applicant can provide adequate documentation, such as verifying residency, work history, and financial history. Most will require a co-signer as a guarantor on the loan application, and the joint applicants have SSNs.

Do I need a credit score or credit history to apply for a loan?

To approve loans, lenders verify the borrower's credit score. That means immigrants who haven't been able to build a credit history have a more challenging time accessing credit.

Do immigrants get money from the government to start a business?

Usually, governments offer some form of financial assistance or incentive to help immigrants start businesses in their new home country. This can take the form of a grant, low-interest loan, or tax break and can be extremely helpful in helping new businesses get off the ground.

What is an ITIN?

The Personal Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, is for non-US citizens who need to pay taxes but cannot receive a Social Security Number. To request an ITIN number, you must fill out Form W7 and mail it or process it in person at an IRS taxpayer help desk. You can also take it to an acceptance agent authorized by the Internal Revenue Service. You must also include proof of identity, such as your passport or driving license, during the application process. You'll receive your ITIN number in about six weeks.

How can I improve my credit score to apply for an immigrant business loan?

Follow these tips:
  1. Open an account and apply for a secured credit card.
  2. Automate your payments to ensure you always pay your bills on time.
  3. Make the best use of your credit card.
  4. Request your landlord to report your rent payments. They can inform your payments to Experian, one of the leading credit bureaus.
  5. Review your credit report whenever you can and correct any mistakes you find.
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