The best life insurance companies for non-U.S. citizens

Visa and green card holders in the United States are eligible for life insurance depending on their status. Expat U.S. citizens living internationally may not be able to get insured with a U.S. company.

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Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

&Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Associate Content Director

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

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Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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Anyone with financial obligations, from having shared debts to a family to support, would benefit from getting life insurance — and this includes foreign citizens, too. Visa holders, green card holders and other international citizens living in the U.S. are all eligible for life insurance coverage. The kind of policy you may get will depend on your immigration status and other factors, including your country of origin and personal circumstances.

Each life insurance company evaluates non-U.S. applicants differently. Below, we’ll explore the life insurance options for green card holders, visa holders, and U.S. citizens living abroad.

Key takeaways

  • Green card holders are permanent residents and have the same options for life insurance coverage as U.S. citizens.

  • Many visa holders also have life insurance coverage options, but these will depend on their type of visa, country of origin, insurance carrier, and other considerations.

  • You’ll need to provide documentation to confirm your immigration status, such as a visa, Social Security number (SSN), Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) when applying for life insurance.

  • Expats cannot get a life insurance policy in the U.S. while living abroad.

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Can a green card holder get life insurance?

Green card holders are considered permanent residents in the U.S. and have the same life insurance coverage options as U.S. citizens. If you’re a green card holder, you’ll have to disclose your permanent resident status during the application process. Other than that, most insurance companies will underwrite your application the same as they do for U.S. citizens.

Can visa holders get life insurance?

Visa holders are non-citizens who currently live in the U.S., and perhaps work or go to school, but aren’t classified as permanent residents. This category also includes people with employment authorization documents (EADs), aka work permits. Depending on the kind of visa you hold and other factors, you may be able to get approved for a life insurance policy in the U.S.  

During the application process, you will have to provide additional information and documentation related to your visa status, the purpose of your presence in the U.S., how long you’ve been living in the country, and how long you’re planning to stay.

This may include:

  • The type of visa you have. Not all work visas are considered the same for life insurance eligibility purposes. Student visas are treated differently than work visas, too. 

  • Showing you have significant interest in staying in the U.S. Having family, or owning property or a business in the country, might help you determine whether you are eligible for life insurance coverage. 

  • Showing you have substantial presence in the U.S. Depending on the insurance carrier, you might be eligible for life insurance coverage after spending some time in the country, which can vary from one year to five years.

Can immigrants to the U.S. get life insurance?

If you’re an immigrant to the U.S. you may be able to purchase life insurance. In addition to the factors considered in a traditional underwriting process, including age, gender, health, and lifestyle, your life insurance eligibility will be determined by a few additional factors. These may include your immigration status and country of origin. 

The best way to know if you’re eligible for life insurance coverage as a non-U.S. citizen and get the best pricing and most accurate information available across multiple insurance companies is to work with an independent broker. At Policygenius, our brokers are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice tailored to your personal situation.

Best life insurance companies for non-U.S. citizen applicants to consider

Best life insurance for green card holders

Lincoln Financial

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Lincoln Financial logo

When it comes to low costs, speedy underwriting, and the option to avoid medical tests, Lincoln Financial has the competition beat. The insurer offers very competitive life insurance coverage options for many applicants, including green card holders.

Pros

  • No-medical-exam option available

  • Fast turnaround

  • Competitive rates for older applicants

Cons

  • Expensive permanent policies

  • Few online tools

Lincoln Financial offers affordable prices and robust coverage to just about every U.S. permanent resident, including green card holders. If you’re a non-permanent resident, however, you will want to consider other options. Lincoln Financial doesn’t extend life insurance coverage to visa holders.

Best life insurance for visa holders

Prudential

3.4

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Prudential logo

Prudential is one of the top life insurance carriers in the U.S. They are a financially sound company with a strong record of meeting the obligations of their policyholders.

Pros

  • High financial ratings

  • Work with all kinds of visa holders 

  • Comprehensive online resources

Cons

  • Very high premiums

  • Mixed customer ratings

No other life insurance company offers life insurance coverage options to a wider variety of visa holders than Prudential. They work with most types of visa and special status holders, including DACA recipients. For some types of visa, however, eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Keep in mind also that some application restrictions may apply depending on your immigration status and personal circumstances.

Best life insurance for immigrants to the U.S.

Transamerica

4.4

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Transamerica logo

Transamerica is one of the oldest and biggest life insurance carriers in the world, with over 12 million active accounts today. It offers affordable rates for almost every age group, health condition, and immigration status.

Pros

  • Competitive rates for term life insurance

  • No medical exam for people under a certain age or coverage amount

  • Former smokers may be eligible for lower rates

Cons

  • Uneven customer experience

  • Most policy changes require a paper form

Important documents for foreign life insurance applicants

Visa holders will need a few more documents than U.S. citizens when applying for life insurance.

  1. A copy of your visa

  2. A foreign resident questionnaire You'll complete this as part of the application to answer basic questions about health, employment status, and travel history.

  3. Identification Depending on the company, this could be a SSN, ITIN, or a W-8BEN – a Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting.

  4. State-specific forms to confirm residency This is not required by every insurer and depends on the company’s requirements and your state of residency where you apply.

It’s also important to note that life insurance companies will likely require that any necessary medical exams are performed in the U.S. Additionally, premium payments must typically be made from a bank account located in the U.S.

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What factors could prevent me from getting life insurance coverage?

Even if an insurance company accepts applications from certain visa holders, a variety of related factors prevent coverage:

  • Country of origin limitations

  • Residency minimums (i.e., living in the U.S. for at least one or five years)

  • Rating limits

  • Identification requirements (such as a visa, SSN, EAD, or ITIN)

  • Travel restrictions

Country classifications and limitations

Some life insurance companies reject an application based on the country of origin, which is set by the U.S. State Department. These restrictions are the same across all carriers and are subject to change based on federal government regulations.

In some cases, insurance companies may also limit the available coverage available to citizens of certain countries. This is done on a rating scale based on the company's risk calculations.

Some foreign countries have their own exclusions and do not allow citizens to purchase life insurance policies outside of their country of origin. Insurers may be unable to sell policies to citizens of those countries regardless of their U.S. visa status.

A Policygenius agent can look up country of origin ratings by insurer and let you know if there are any factors – like your length of residency in the U.S. – that could impact your application.

What happens to your life insurance policy if you move abroad?

If you already have life insurance in the U.S.

Most insurance companies require you to disclose any known international travel arrangements when you apply, so they can factor in any risk the travel might pose. It’s important to tell the truth in your application to avoid insurance fraud, which can lead to a denied death benefit for your loved ones. If you move abroad after you have your policy in force and it’s past the contestability period, your coverage will last as long as you pay the premiums and if you die abroad, your loved ones will receive a payout.

If you’re an expat and want to buy life insurance in the U.S.

For expats looking for life insurance coverage, if you didn’t secure coverage before you moved abroad, you’re unlikely to get insured with a U.S. company. Life insurance companies typically require the policyholder to sign and complete their medical exam in the U.S., so you’ll likely have to seek out other options for life insurance in the country where you’re living, or wait until you return.

Life insurance for green card and visa holders FAQs

Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to have life insurance?

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to buy a life insurance policy in the U.S. Life insurance is available for temporary and permanent U.S. residents, such as visa and green card holders.

Can a non-U.S. citizen be a life insurance beneficiary?

Generally, your beneficiary does not need to live in or be a citizen of the U.S., but it could complicate or delay the claims process by several weeks. Some insurers require additional documentation for beneficiaries who are claiming a death benefit outside of the U.S., or who are not U.S. citizens. But as long as your beneficiaries have bank accounts or can receive a check in the mail, the insurance company will pay out a death benefit.

Can undocumented immigrants get life insurance?

There are very few options for applicants who do not have any form of documentation, such as a visa, SSN, EAD, or ITIN because it makes it nearly impossible for insurers to assess risk. However, there are options for people in the U.S. who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or refugee status, depending on the insurance company.

Authors

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

Associate Content Director

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Associate Content Director

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

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Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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