(Check out our detailed article on life insurance for non-US citizens.)
If you are not a citizen of the US, you may have heard that you can’t get life insurance on yourself. This is not true. Most people who are not citizens of the US can apply and most likely be approved for life insurance. It’s not usually a complicated process, but you will probably need to provide more information than a U.S. citizen. There can be restrictions, though, depending on your situation. Non-citizens really fall into three categories, and determination is really based on where you live:
- You are a non-citizen, but legally live in the US. This is a permanent resident like a green card holder.
- You are a non-US resident, living in your own country (i.e. a foreign national / non-US resident).
- You are an undocumented immigrant, living here in the US without a proper Visa or other documentation.
For those who are non-citizens, but legally live in the U.S.
If you are here in the U.S. and considered a non-citizen, you should be on a work visa or applying for a green card. This means that you should be here in the U.S. more than 6 months out of the year. This timeframe is important as it shows U.S. based insurance carriers your desire to stay in the U.S. Generally speaking, the longer you have lived in the U.S., the easier it will be to apply for life insurance.
Some temporary visas are eligible for life insurance including, but not limited, to E1-2, H1-B, H-4, K1-4 and more.
Again, if you are on a visa or green card, or applying for such, and meet other requirements, you should be able to obtain life insurance. You will probably need additional information as described below.
For those who are a non-US resident, living in your own country
You will probably be able to obtain life insurance. By definition, your status is considered a foreign national / non-US resident. A foreign national / non-resident is generally defined as, for insurance purposes, a someone who:
- Resides in the US for 3 months or less. This can even mean a U.S. citizen who lives in Brazil for work
- Someone who expects to stay in the U.S. for a short time, such as a student from another country
- Only visits the U.S. part-time. Again, if you are here in the U.S. for 3 months or less, generally speaking, you are a non-resident
There are two main areas the insurance companies look at: the life expectancy of the country you live in and if the country you live in is on a black list by the U.S. or your own country.
For undocumented immigrants living here in the US
This is a much tougher situation to obtain life insurance, but not impossible. There are a handful of carriers that will insure undocumented immigrants, which include DACA recipients.
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Countries With Preventing Laws
Along these lines, there are non-residents/foreign nationals we can’t help simply because their country’s insurance laws prevents them for purchasing US-based life insurance. These countries currently are:
- South Africa
This is only the case if you are considered a citizen/full-time resident of these countries. If you are not, we may be able to secure life insurance.
U.S. Blacklisted Countries
Additionally, there are countries whose citizens the U.S. government will not allow us to help. They are:
- North Korea
These two lists change and are not conclusive, so it is best to confirm with us if you think your country may not be eligible for U.S. based life insurance.
How To Obtain The Life Insurance
The key of purchasing life insurance from a U.S.-based company is that you must be in the U.S. to do so – you must be in the U.S. for the application, medical exam, and policy delivery. You must have specific ties to the U.S. somehow, such as having business interests, married to a U.S. citizen, or having some type of financial interest. That means you can’t simply take a vacation to the U.S. and apply for life insurance. You must also remain in the U.S. for policy delivery.
Here are some the specific requirements:
- If you don’t have a social security number, you must fill out a W-8 form
- Health record translated into English. Note, with prior approval from the insurance company, you may be able to bring your records with you. This requires prior approval. This can save significant time on the application process
- Apply and take the exam in the U.S.
- Be in the U.S. to receive the policy
- Pay the premiums in U.S. currency. Usually, the insurance companies will only allow annual payments. That means you will need a U.S. bank account. It would be in your best interest to establish a U.S. bank account before applying for life insurance
- Understand some limitations: if you work for a foreign police or military, you probably won’t be able to secure life insurance, even if you live in an approved country. There can be limitations on life insurance types, death benefit face amounts, and health rating class
While this seems like a lot of work, if you understand the process, it is not. The process can definitely take some time, but that shouldn’t deter you if you have been considering U.S. based life insurance. The main points are: you need to physically be in the U.S. for application and delivery; bring your medical records (if approved to do so); and fill out the application and go through the underwriting. We can’t stress enough to be honest on the application. The life insurance process can be long enough for even U.S. citizens living here in the U.S. If something in your application does not match with information in your medical records, chances are your application will be delayed or declined altogether.
There are significant advantages to securing U.S. based life insurance:
- Permanent insurance is a good option since the cash value is backed by the carrier
- Stable political policies
- Strong financial and insurance system
Types of insurance policies available to foreign nationals, non-residents, and visa/green card holders include term, whole life, and universal life policies. As we mentioned, permanent policies may be a good choice because of the stability of the U.S. insurance system.
Permanent insurance can also be ideal for those foreign nationals facing estate or tax issues. U.S. based life insurance is free from estate tax, income tax, and possibly other transfer taxes. While we understand taxes, we are by no means a tax advisor, and we recommend you speak to a tax advisor regarding your situation.