If you’re feeling the pinch to your bank account from moving countries, a loan might be an excellent way to reduce some of that monetary stress.
Between having to pay for your flight to Australia, current accommodation, and all other financial drains involved with “packing up and shipping off”, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of dollars left in your bank account.
And while some types of finances might not yet be available to you in Australia, there are a wealth of options for you in the home, personal, and student departments, to help you set up home in your new, erm, home. This question will likely be one of the first to pass your worried mind.
What about my credit history?
Here's your answer: Australian lenders CANNOT access your overseas credit history, and if you’re new to Australia, then you won’t have yet built a credit file. But this DOESN'T mean that loans will be inaccessible to you until you do.
Many lenders who approve migrant loans will use other criteria to determine their credit risk, assessing them on their financial situation, visa, assets, and overall ability to pay off the loan. Some may even lend migrants higher amounts depending on the strength of their application.
Something to remember is that your Australian credit history begins the moment you have funds or debts with an Australian financial institution. If you apply for too many loans in a short period of time, or obtain negative or bad credit history, this can damage your credit score with lenders. Maintaining a good credit history and keeping on top of your debts and bills will help increase your chances of successfully obtaining a loan.
So, can I get a loan for X amount?
This answer is never straightforward. Certain lenders will let non-residents borrow from them, others won't. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Big Four have options for non-residents, but they'll likely require you to meet some eligibility requirements before they can approve a loan and determine for how much. This eligibility may involve you:
- Having stable employment / a source of income
- Having a visa
- Being able to repay your loan before your visa's expiry date
- Having an Australian residence
- Having an Australian bank account
Additionally, the lender may require you to pay a higher interest rate on your loan - depending on your circumstances and how much of a risk they assess you to be. You can compare some of the banks that offer loans to non-residents here and can further discuss your options by contacting them direct with details of your needs.
Migrant Mortgage: Home loans for non-residents
One of the creature comforts you’ll want to secure after arriving in Australia is a permanent home here - especially if you’re on an indefinite-stay permanent resident (PR) visa or have migrated with your family. When preparing to buy your first home in Australia, an important consideration is to research the best area for you to live in. As you house hunt, consider how accessible the house is to your workplace, school, and shops, as well as how safe the area is. If you intend to live in Australia for an extended period of time, you might want to look at ‘up-and-coming’ suburbs and turn your home purchase into a smart investment. Another consideration is to look at mortgages. It’s important to shop around and compare home loans to find the one that fits your needs and a good place to start doing this is by using the comparison tables found on finder.com.au.
Are you eligible for a home loan as a temporary resident?
Australia aims to promote growth by offering migrants easy options for home ownership, and as such, does not penalise permanent or temporary residents with things such as higher monthly payments. As a temporary or permanent resident, all the same terms, interest rates, and features (including offset accounts and the option to delay your mortgage payments under certain circumstances) that are offered to Australian citizens will be available to you. As such, the same eligibility criteria also applies. This includes;
- Ongoing regular employment - you must be employed and be able to afford repayments on the loan with your income
- Evidence of existing assets (liabilities, savings, equity)
- A good credit history in Australia (if available)
- Proficient funds to cover fees associated with purchasing property
- Loan security (i.e. the value and saleability of your property)
- Sufficient identification
- Age (you must be over 18 to apply for a loan).
Migrants with permanent residence
Migrants who have PR will usually find it easier to obtain a home loan than migrants on temporary residence visas. Those who meet the financial requirements and hold a valid PR are eligible to borrow a higher percentage of the property value (on average, 90%). The exact amount will vary depending on whether you’re living in Australia, overseas, or if you’re a resident with a foreign income. Migrants with PR are also eligible for the first home owners grant (FHOG) so long as they meet the standard requirements i.e. they haven’t owned a home previously, intend to occupy the property as their principal place of residence for the first 12 months of settlement, and continuously live in the property for at least six months.
Did you know...
As an aside, New Zealand citizens can borrow up to 95% of the property value, even if they live in New Zealand. As Australia and New Zealand share the same credit reporting system, New Zealand citizens’ applications will be assessed on their credit history. If the applicant lives outside New Zealand and Australia, they may be treated as a foreign citizen and be offered to borrow up to only 80% of the property value. Of course, the percentage available to borrow will depend on the particular loan's maximum Loan to Valuation Ratio (LVR).
Migrants with temporary residence
While only select banks and lenders have policies available for temporary migrants, the opportunities to obtain a home loan are still very much available - although there may be certain conditions and extra requirements that will have to be met before approval. Temporary residents of Australia who have been issued with one of these long-term working visas: 457, 475, 487 or 495, qualify for a home loan in Australia. To apply for this, you’ll need to prove that you have a steady source of income and, in many cases, need to obtain special permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). Some lenders might also ask you to provide evidence of overseas liabilities and bank accounts to help create a more complete financial profile of you before approving your request. Once these requirements are met, you may apply for a home loan worth up to 80% of the value of the property, with a 20% deposit as security. As a temporary resident, you are not entitled to the FHOG, or to have your stamp duty waived. A select number of lenders will allow student and bridging visa holders with stable incomes to borrow up to 80% of the value of the property, however there may be stricter eligibility rules involved in these cases.
How to increase your home loan benefits
- If your spouse is an Australian citizen or a permanent resident… and you purchase the property jointly with them, then you are eligible for the FHOG, so long as you meet all the other requirements.
- If your spouse is an Australian citizen… you might be eligible for a loan worth up to 95% of the property value.
- If you have good employment history… If you’ve held a professional job with the same company for two or more years, you may be entitled to borrow up to 10% more for your loan.
While the ability to obtain a home loan is there, not all lenders will grant loans to temporary residents. Each has its own policy regarding visas, so it’s important to research and ask around to determine what your options are for your specific visa. It can be worth speaking to a mortgage broker who has access to range of loans that may be applicable for you You can compare some of Australia’s award winning brokers below:Back to top
Personal loans for non-residents
Personal loans are not usually loans that are specifically designed for migrants, but rather are loans that have flexible eligibility criteria that allow migrants to apply. As with home loans, migrants with a PR will generally find it much easier to obtain a personal loan than migrants on a temporary visa, but this doesn’t mean that temporary residents cannot access personal loans. Depending on your financial situation and visa, you may still be eligible for a number of personal loans including; car, secured, unsecured, and payday loans.
How do I get a personal loan?
Personal loans for both permanent and temporary migrants can be offered by traditional banks, credit unions, and smaller lenders. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the Australian market and compare your options to avoid unnecessary rates and fees before taking out a loan. Owing to the fact that a migrant’s lending risk cannot be determined by credit file (which is normally the first point of call when assessing any loan application), the lender will determine the migrant’s risk on the strength of their overall profile and capacity to repay the desired loan amount. This is based on:
- Confirmed employment in Australia
- Minimum income
- Cash savings
- The holding of an Australian bank account
- The type of Australian visa you are on
Depending on the lender’s policy and your financial/visa situation, temporary residents and students in particular may be required to meet a few extra requirements for their loan to be approved.This might include having to provide a cash deposit to reduce the amount borrowed against your loan and minimise the lender’s risk. If you’re on a temporary visa, your loan will NOT extend past the length of your visa. For example, if you have two years left on your 457, you will only be able to secure a two-year loan. Certain lenders might be better suited to cater to a migrant’s circumstances than others. So if you're here on a temporary visa, it might be worth considering speaking to a broker to find a loan that fits your needs.
Personal loans available to migrants
- Car loans: Although car loans are usually restricted to PR and citizens, migrants on a the 457 may have a better chance at being approved for a car loans so long as they meet certain financial conditions.
- Secured personal loans: When you use other assets, such as jewellery or property, to access finance, you’re taking out a secured personal loan. Unlike car loans (the monies of which you can only use to finance your vehicle), personal loans can be used to finance a variety of needs. Before taking out a personal loan, ensure that the purpose you intend for the loan amount is permissible.
- Unsecured personal loans: Unsecured personal loans don’t require any assets for security, which means these loans typically come with higher interest rates and fees. As there’s no security or assurance involved, unsecured personal loans may have stricter criteria and may not be available to migrants with certain lenders.
- Payday loans: These are small, short term loans, generally no greater than $2,000 and for no longer than a year. Due to these minimal amounts and lending time periods, migrants may find it easier to access payday loans than other, more long term and high risk loans.
Student loans for international students
Australia’s student loan system is called HELP (Higher Educational Loan Program). This is a government initiative that provides students financial aid to fund their education. Unfortunately, international students are not eligible for HELP, but this doesn’t mean that financial assistance systems aren’t available to them.
The first port of call for international students requiring financial aid is their educational institution. Most universities offer grants and scholarships, while some (e.g. Southern Cross University and the University of Western Australia) also offer student and general purpose loans for full fee-paying onshore international students or students with permanent residency. Note that all loans are subject to the university’s student loans policy and are granted at the university’s discretion. To review all your options, consider making an appointment with your educational institution’s student financial assistance officer.
If a student loan is unavailable, international students might wish to consider applying for a personal loan (see above) to aid them in their financial situation. Alternatively, there are countries that have loan systems in place to offer financial aid to citizens studying in Australia. These countries include: Canada, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Denmark, the UK, and the US. Once you’ve been approved for a loan, the next thing you’ll have to think about is how much to borrow. Keep in mind that it’s not just about covering tuition fees, there’s also room and board, general living, and insurance expenses to consider, so play it smart and spend the time to calculate your financial requirements before committing to a loan.Back to top
How to compare loans
- Loan terms and amount: Lenders will offer varying lengths for loan terms and different minimum and maximum loan amounts. Make sure what’s offered meets your borrowing needs.
- Fees: All loans come with fees, which can add considerably to the overall cost so always calculate how much you’re likely to pay all up before committing to a loan.
- Repayment flexibility: Many lenders allow you to choose between weekly, fortnightly, or monthly repayments. Choose one that suits your pay frequency, and also check if your lender allows for additional payments without penalty so you can pay your loan back early (if possible), which can save you considerable interest.
- Discounts and redraw facilities: Look out for offers and discounts - although remember that they might not be beneficial to your situation, despite their “special” tag. It’s better to take out a loan that suits your needs than one that’s a steal.
- Reputation: It’s easy to fall into the trap of a “too good to be true” loan. Do your research and avoid dodgy lenders as, if anything goes wrong over the course of your loan, you’ll want to be sure the lender can be contacted and provide sound assistance.