International Student Loan Refinancing: Options for Non-US Residents

Non-US residents are looking to get a better deal when it comes to private student loans. There are no standard options for refinancing student loans outside of the US, but there are options available depending on the type of private loan.

If you are of non-US descent (or permanent resident of America) and would like to refinance your student loan, there are options for you. First, you should look into the student loan forgiveness programs. You have two options for student loan forgiveness: Pay it Off in Full and Enter Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR). In the IBR plan, your monthly payment is based on your income and family size. Your IBR payments are lower than your standard payments, and the plan will cap the total amount of your student loan to a maximum of $57,000.00 per year.

Student loan refinancing is when a private lender pays off your existing loans and gives you a new loan at today’s interest rates. Refinancing student loans can be helpful to borrowers in multiple ways.

First, you might be able to reduce your interest rate or repayment term, which reduces your overall cost. If lower monthly payments is your main goal, you might be able to extend your repayment term during refinancing, too.

But one of the downsides of student loan refinancing is that many banks require borrowers to be U.S. citizens to qualify. And that can make it more difficult to refinance student loans immigrant borrowers who aren’t permanent residents (Green Card holders).

But international student loan refinancing isn’t impossible. In fact, you’d be surprised at the number of lenders that might be willing to work with you. In this guide, we’ll lay out the best options for refinancing for international students and how to get started.

Why student loan refinancing for international students can be challenging

As mentioned above, many U.S. banks and lenders will only lend to U.S. citizens, leaving many international students and non-U.S. citizens out. Although this eligibility requirement may seem restrictive, there are two practical reasons that banks don’t conventionally lend to international student borrowers.

International students pose a higher risk of permanently leaving the U.S.

U.S. financial institutions are often leery of lending money to international student loan borrowers who have non-permanent visas. Examples of temporary visas that international student loan borrowers may hold include:

  • E-2
  • E-3
  • F1
  • H-1B
  • J-1
  • L-1
  • O-1
  • OPT
  • TN

Borrowers with any of these visa types are considered a higher risk by lenders because there’s no guarantee that they’ll establish permanent residence in the United States. Should the borrower voluntarily choose (or be forced) to leave the U.S., enforcing payment is very difficult to impossible.

Related: How to flee the country to get away from your student loans

International students are more likely to have limited U.S. credit histories

Without Social Security numbers, it can be more difficult for non-U.S. citizens to get approved for credit cards or other lines of credit. For this reason, international students may have a thin credit file for lenders to evaluate.

Limited credit histories make it more difficult for anyone, regardless of citizenship or residency status, to get approved for refinancing at the best rates. Credit histories and scores still play a major role in the underwriting decisions for most lenders today.

It should be noted, however, that not all international students struggle in this area. There are a few credit card programs today that are specifically targeted at U.S. newcomers. And if you’ve already begun to make payments on your student loans, that positive credit history will appear on your credit report as well.

How to refinance student loans for non-U.S. citizens

Many international students who come to the U.S. for higher education on a visa are pursuing specialized professions as medical physicians or engineers, that require them to take out a lot of student debt. And many of these borrowers may plan to continue working in the United States after graduation.

Yet in addition to most foreign students being ineligible for federal student loan programs, many also struggle to meet U.S. refinancing requirements.

Getting financing can be a frustrating experience for international borrowers, especially when they’re entering high-paying fields that would normally qualify them for competitive rates. Yet despite these obstacles, there are ways to qualify for international student loan refinancing with U.S. lenders.

Here are two strong options:

1. Add a creditworthy U.S. cosigner to your application

Finding a creditworthy U.S. citizen to cosign your refinance loan may be the easiest way to qualify for a new loan at the best rates. Most international students don’t qualify for federal student loans. So if you’re a non-U.S. citizen with student loans that originated in the United States, they’re most likely from a private lender. And while a few lenders today will lend to international students without a cosigner, that’s still the exception rather than the norm.

Many international student borrowers may already have a U.S. cosigner on their loans. If that’s the case for you, you may want to ask your existing cosigner if they’re willing to cosign a new refinancing loan with you.

There’s a strong possibility that your cosigner would be happy to cosign your refinance loan. After all, they’re already on the hook if you’re unable to repay your current student loans. They might as well try to help you get a lower interest rate to relieve your financial burden and increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to keep your loans current.

2. Look for lenders with flexible eligibility requirements

If you’d prefer to apply for refinancing on your own, there are a few banks and lenders that will lend to non-U.S. citizens. A few examples include CommonBond, Citizens Bank, and SoFi.

Stilt and Prodigy Finance are two smaller private student loan lenders that specialize in immigrant lending. However, their rates and terms tend to be less attractive. And it appears that Prodigy Finance has shifted its focus to in-school student loans.

Each of these lenders will have their own set of eligibility requirements. But Commonbond, for example, says that the following visa types are eligible for a student loan refinance:

It’s less common to find lenders that accept borrowers who still have a student visa status, such as F-1 or OPT. However, Prodigy and Stilt are two lenders that have no restrictions on either of these visa types.

How to qualify for international student loan refinancing without a cosigner

To get approved for international student loan refinancing without a cosigner, make sure that your temporary visas aren’t set to expire soon. SoFi, for example, says that it will require you to have at least two years left until your status expires or you’ll need to show that you’ve filed for an extension or permanent residency.

Next, check your credit score. If your score is “poor” or “fair,” you may not be able to lower your interest rate by refinancing. But your chances of earning a better rate are higher if you have “good” to “excellent” credit.

Finally, many lenders want to see proof of strong income as they’ll want to know that you have the financial means to make your monthly payments. As a general rule, owe less federal debt than 1.5 times your annual income.

Related: Student loan refinancing: What is a good debt-to-income ratio?

Best lenders for international student loan refinancing

There are a few lenders that are willing to offer refinancing to international students. Below, we list three of your best options, along with their key terms, requirements, and benefits. Note that none of the refinance lenders below charge origination fees or prepayment penalties.


As previously mentioned, CommonBond does not offer refinancing to borrowers who still have student visas. But it will accept applications from H1-B, J-1, L-1, E-2, and E-3 visa holders. Here are the key terms and limits for their refinance loans:

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $500,000
  • Loan terms: 5 to 20 years
  • Rate type: Fixed rate, variable rate, and hybrid loans
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Bonus: Up to $1,050 through this link

Impressively, CommonBond offers up to 24 months of forbearance to all of its borrowers. Also, if you added a cosigner to your refinancing application, you can apply for co-signer release after just 24 months of on-time payments. Check out our full CommonBond review.

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank will accept student loan refinancing applications from resident aliens that have a valid Social Security number. However, it’s unclear if non-citizens that meet the credit and income eligibility criteria must apply with a U.S. cosigner or if they can apply on their own. Here are the key details of their refinance loan product:

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 to $500,000
  • Loan terms: 5 to 20 years
  • Rate type: Fixed rate and variable rate loans
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Bonus: Up to $1,250 through this link

In addition to offering a 0.25% interest rate discount to borrowers that sign up for automatic payments, Citizens Bank offers a loyalty discount of 0.25%. So borrowers who qualify for both can reduce their interest rate by up to 0.50%.

Unfortunately, there’s no formal forbearance policy to be found for Citizens Bank refinance loans. However, borrowers can apply to have a cosigner released after they’ve made 36 consecutive on-time payments. Read our full review of Citizens Bank student loan refinancing.


You can apply for international student loan refinancing with SoFi if you hold a J-1, H-1B, E-2, O-1, or TN visa. You’ll also need to have at least two years remaining until your status expires or provide proof that you’ve filed for an extension. Here’s what SoFi student loan refinancing offers:

  • Loan amounts: $5,000+
  • Loan terms: 5 to 20 years
  • Rate type: Fixed rate and variable rate loans
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Bonus: Up to $1,000 through this link

SoFi offers up to 12 months of Unemployment Protection in addition to reduced student loan payments (as low as $100) for borrowers who are in medical residency or fellowship. But there is a glaring downside to refinancing with SoFi. The lender doesn’t currently offer a cosigner release program. Read our SoFi refinancing review.

Is international student loan refinancing worth it?

Just because you can refinance your international student loans, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. If your credit score doesn’t qualify you for better rates or terms and you can’t find a creditworthy cosigner, you may be better off sticking with your existing loans.

But since most international students don’t have federal student loans, they also don’t have to worry about losing out on federal benefits like income-driven repayment (IDR) or student loan forgiveness when refinancing. That makes the risk-versus-reward proposition of student loan refinancing much simpler.

If you’re able to qualify for a better loan by refinancing your international student loans with a lender like CommonBond, you probably should. To learn more about the pros and cons of refinancing, check out our full student loan refinancing guide.

Get a Student Loan Plan

Refinance student loans, get a bonus in 2021

$1,050 BONUS1For 100k+. $300 bonus for 50k to 99k.1

$1,000 BONUS2 For 100k or more. $200 for 50k to $99,9992

$1,050 BONUS3For 100k+. $300 bonus for 50k to 99k.3

$1,275 BONUS4 For 150k+. Tiered 300 to 575 bonus for 50k to 149k.4

$1,000 BONUS5For 100k+. $300 bonus for 50k to 99k.5

$1,000 BONUS6For $100k or more. $200 for $50k to $99,9996

$1,250 BONUS7 For 100k+ or $350 for 5k to 100k.7

$1,250 BONUS8For 150k+. Tiered 100 to 400 bonus for 25k to 149k.8

Not sure what to do with your student loans?

Take our 11 question quiz to get a personalized recommendation of whether you should pursue PSLF, IDR forgiveness, or refinancing (including the one lender we think could give you the best rate).

Take Our Quiz

All rates listed above represent APR range. 1Commonbond: If you refinance over $100,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Commonbond disclosure. 2Earnest: $1,000 for $100K or more, $200 for $50K to $99.999.99. For Earnest, if you refinance $100,000 or more through this site, $500 of the $1,000 cash bonus is provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discountEarnest disclosures.
3Laurel Road: If you refinance more than $250,000 through our link and Student Loan Planner receives credit, a $500 cash bonus will be provided directly by Student Loan Planner. If you are a member of a professional association, Laurel Road might offer you the choice of an interest rate discount or the $300, $500, or $750 cash bonus mentioned above. Offers from Laurel Road cannot be combined. Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Laurel Road disclosures.
4Elfi: If you refinance over $150,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Elfi disclosure. 5Splash: If you refinance over $100,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Splash disclosure. 6Sofi: If you refinance $100,000 or more through this site, $500 of the $1,000 cash bonus is provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Sofi disclosures. 7Credible: If you refinance over $100,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Credible disclosure.
8LendKey: If you refinance over $150,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner. Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get student loans as an international student?

Yes, international students can apply for student loans.

Does SoFi refinance international student loans?

No, SoFi does not refinance international student loans.

Can a foreigner get a student loan in the US?

Yes, but you will need to prove that you are a permanent resident of the US.

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