A Canadian friend recently got a job in the US and started working 3 months ago. He went through some trouble to obtain his first credit card in mid-December. The problem is that any credit issuer when they query his credit history, they couldn't find anything. He started using his credit card since mid-December and has paid off his monthly bill once. Does anyone know definitively how long it takes for his credit profile be established and is available to new credit issuers?
If I understood things correctly, the credit rating system is voluntary, and there are no enforced rules or standards that all participants follow when using it. Updates are sent out, computed, and queried, according to each company's interests, and may take some time to propagate.
That said, many participants send out and pull down updates on either monthly or quarterly basis. It's probably not worth checking for credit rating updates before 3 months have passed from the first payment, as the updates may not have fully propagated yet, and waiting for 6 months is probably overkill.
My experience shows that it takes 2-3 months for the data to get through the credit bureau systems, but with 1 month long credit history you probably would not get any good deals and some credit card suppliers may still reject you. It may take a year or two until your credit history is long enough so that most credit card providers and other companies would be fine with it. I got some rejections in the first months of my being in US, but after a year or so it never happened again.
To know for sure though I think the best method is to request a free credit report from one of the sites offering those and see what it says there. If he's working in the US he should have the social security number, so it should be easy.
I don't know for definite but according to the expat boards I frequent, the history doesn't really show up much for the first 3-6 months. Plus as StasM says, length of credit history is a massive factor in his score anyway so even if the other lenders could find something they'd still probably decline him for not having much of a credit history.