Can a Non-U.S. Citizen Apply for an SBA Loan?

If you’re not a U.S. citizen, can you still qualify for an SBA loan for your small business? The answer is yes— but not in all cases. In general, legal permanent residents (LPRs), also known as green card holders, can qualify for SBA financing. However, if a borrower is not a legal permanent resident, things can get a little more complex.

The SBA Loan Approval Process for Non-U.S. Citizens

As part of the SBA loan application process, each “proprietor, general partner, officer, director, LLC managing member, and 20%+ owner” of a business applying for a loan must provide an SBA Form 912 (Statement of Personal History) to their lender.

The SBA states that their financing is available for “businesses that are 51% owned and controlled by persons who are not citizens of the US provided the persons are lawfully in the United States.” However, it’s up to the discretion of an individual lender whether they want to provide a loan to a non-citizen. If a lender does want to go forward with the loan application process, they would need to get a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-551, also known as a green card, from the borrower.

SBA Loan Approvals for Non-Green Card Holders and Foreign Nationals

If a potential SBA loan application does not have a green card available because they are not a legal permeant resident (LPR), the lender needs to determine the borrower’s status. Potentially eligible statuses include:

  • “A documented alien admitted to the U.S. for a specific purpose and for a temporary period of time”

  • An individual granted asylum or a temporary refugee with LPR status

  • “An alien subject to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA)”

However, to be eligible, a business must also meet other requirements, including:

  1. Present management must have operated the business for a minimum of 12 months before the application date, or, they will need to persoinally gurantee the loan.

  2. The borrower must have enough U.S.-based collateral to repay the loan in full at any time during its term.

In some cases, a business owned/managed by citizens of foreign countries, foreign business entities, or non-immigrant aliens can also be eligible for SBA financing, as long as it meets the conditions mentioned above.

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