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Can non-U.S. citizens buy life insurance?

Do you prefer to learn by watching? We answer this question in a video below. Click here to jump ahead.

Just because you’re not a US citizen doesn’t mean you can’t get life insurance.

Immigration law is complicated, and the road to citizenship has many hurdles, but you don’t have to wait until you are a legal resident to enjoy the protection life insurance offers.

Can I get life insurance if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

Yes, you can get approved for life insurance in the United States even if you are not a citizen, as long as you have the proper documentation. Your best chances of getting affordable life insurance is to apply through a broker, like Quotacy. Brokers are not tied to one life insurance company and are able to shop the market. Some life insurance companies are more lenient with certain documentation than others and your Quotacy agent can help you find the best coverage.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes for non U.S. citizens

Quotacy helps people get the life insurance they need to protect their loved ones—including helping countless families navigate the application process and find the coverage they need regardless of citizenship or residency status. There are some instances where coverage options aren’t available, but we do everything we can to get life insurance for all our customers.

As with everything, there are situations where we run into roadblocks, but those are truly rare. Your citizenship status may affect which insurance companies will insure you and what additional information you may need to get a policy.

Life Insurance and Non-Citizen IDs

We’ll explain the ins-and-outs here:

The most common types of non-citizen visas. Green card holders will typically not see any additional hurdles, most visa holders will see a few hurdles, and student visa holders are specifically difficult to insure due to their visa's temporary status.

Applying with a Green Card

A green card holder is considered to be a permanent resident of the USA. This means that most insurance carriers will have no problems offering them coverage. Green card holders are eligible for best-class rates, and are subject to very few additional hurdles during the application process to get life insurance.

The only extra step a green card holder will need to take typically during an application is sending a photocopy of their green card to the life insurance company to confirm their immigration status.

Applying with a Visa

If you don’t have a green card, many insurance carriers will be able to offer coverage, but you’ll face additional hurdles during your application so that your risk can be more accurately measured.

The first step in order to get life insurance with a visa, is to help a carrier find out whether or not you meet their qualifications for being a resident of the USA. Different carriers have different ways that they judge whether someone is a resident, but most of the time, they rely on either Substantial Presence or Significant Interest, or both.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

To have Substantial Presence in the USA, you typically need to have lived in the USA for at least one year. Some carriers require up to five years of Significant Presence in order to offer best-class rates, but one or two years is the industry standard.

Significant Interest, on the other hand, requires the applicant to prove that they have resources invested in staying in the USA. Most of the time, this means owning property or having assets in the USA, like being a home or business owner, for example.

Regardless of whether you’re classified as a resident or non-resident, if you aren’t a naturalized US citizen, there are a few pieces of additional paperwork that carriers require in order to issue a policy.

Most often, a carrier will ask for a copy of your green card or visa documents during your application, and will require you to submit a W-8 or W-9 tax form in order to gather information about your home country and your financial information in the USA.

Regardless of your citizenship, residency status, or visa type, Quotacy will be able to find options for an affordable term life insurance policy to protect your loved ones.

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How Carriers Approve Non-Citizens

Most carriers evaluate visa holders based on their ID type, Substantial Presence, and an Approved Countries list.

Most life insurance carriers judge whether or not they can offer life insurance coverage based combinations of these criteria.

1: ID Type

Most carriers separate the people they are able to serve based on the type of visa an applicant has. For example, some carriers are able to offer life insurance to students from abroad who are studying in America with an F-class Visa, but most cannot.

Additionally, some carriers will only insure US Citizens or permanent residents – if you don’t have your green card or your citizenship, they can’t offer coverage.

If this happens, it pays to have an independent agent with experience underwriting non-citizens. During your application, if we learn that a carrier can’t insure you based on your visa status, we’ll search for another carrier who can.

2: Substantial Presence

As we talked about earlier, most life insurance carriers, one year of residence is enough to show substantial presence, but some carriers require up to 5 years of residence.

If you’ve been in the US for less than a year, however, carriers consider you to be a Non-Resident, even if you plan to apply for your visa soon. A non-resident can still be approved by a few carriers, and may even get best-class offers.

However, the carrier will often set certain limits on how much coverage a non-resident can get, and may require more paperwork to issue their approval. If you’ve been in the US for less than a year, talk to an agent and ask about your options.

3: Approved Countries List

Some carriers are much more specific in their underwriting. Many carriers have limits on who they can insure based not only on your visa status, but on your home country as well.

Carriers that approve people based on their home country may be able to offer you best-class rates, but given how specific their requirements are, it’s wise to have your advisor research your case beforehand to make you can be covered.

Again, if we learn that the carrier you apply with initially can’t insure you, we will let you know and offer other options to get your application back on track quickly with a different carrier.

If you’d like to see what life insurance options are available for you, we’d love to help. Feel free to get in touch with us or run an anonymous quote online, and we’ll get started.

» Learn more: Term Life Insurance for New American Citizens

Watch the Life Insurance for Non-US Citizens Video

Video Transcript

Welcome to Quotacy’s Q&A Friday where we answer your life insurance questions. Quotacy is an online life insurance agency where you can get life insurance on your terms.

I’m Jeanna and I’m Natasha.

Today’s question is:
 
Can a non-U.S. citizen buy life insurance?

 
 
Yes, you can get approved for life insurance in the United States even if you are not a citizen but you’ll need the proper documentation. When we say proper documentation at minimum you’ll need a Social Security number, and a green card or valid visa.

Not all insurance companies evaluate applicants in the same way. Nor do they have the same requirements. For example, while a few life insurance companies may approve an applicant with a student visa, most do not.

In addition to providing proof of identification, most life insurance companies need to see substantial presence and significant interest.

Substantial Presence

Physical presence in the U.S. for a specified period of time.

 

Significant Interest

Evidence of plans to stay in the U.S. long term.

 
 
Substantial presence means you have to show you have been living in the U.S. for a certain length of time. Some insurance companies require you to have lived continuously in the U.S. for five years while another company may only require one year.

Significant interest means showing that you intend to stay in the U.S. For example, owning a house or business are common examples of intent.

There is an extra step in the approval process if you have a visa versus a green card.

With a green card, it doesn’t matter which country you’re originally from; however, with a visa, your country of origin does matter. It matters because some countries have laws in place prohibiting the purchase of a life insurance policy outside an individual’s country of origin.

There are a few other things to note if you are not a U.S. citizen and you’re applying for life insurance in the U.S.

  • You will need to pay your premiums with a U.S. account. Money orders aren’t accepted.
  • You will need to be physically in the U.S. when the policy is approved and mailed to you. Future mailings, such as premium notices, also require a U.S. mailing address.
  • The life insurance policy’s death benefit will be paid out in U.S. funds.

Because each life insurance company has different requirements when it comes to approving applications of non-U.S. citizens, your best chances of getting affordable life insurance is to apply through a broker, like Quotacy. Brokers aren’t tied to one life insurance company and are able to shop the market advocating on your behalf. Some life insurance companies are more lenient than others and your Quotacy agent can help you find the best coverage.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes

If you have any questions about life insurance make sure to leave us a comment. Otherwise, tune in next week when we answer the question can I get life insurance if I’m unemployed? Bye!

 

Photo credit to: Ana Paula Hirama

About the writer

Headshot of Eric Lindholm, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Eric Lindholm

Communications Coordinator

Eric moved from sales to communications at Quotacy. His writing is informed by his experience guiding hundreds of people through their own life insurance buying journey. Eric lives in Minneapolis, where his coworkers are trying to convince him to start his own podcast, do stand-up, or take his humor into the spotlight. Connect with him on LinkedIn.