For many people born abroad living in the United States, owning a home is one of the cornerstones of American dream. But there is a perception among non-US citizens that a mortgage cannot be obtained, thus creating a huge barrier to this goal. However, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), resident foreign buyers – residing in the United States as new immigrants or visas for professional, educational or other purposes – are more likely to buy a home with a mortgage. Can a non-US citizen get a mortgage loan?
State of possession and stay at home
Please note that the conditions for obtaining a home loan depend largely on the status of your stay. Most borrowers usually fall into one of the following groups:
- Permanent residents with a green card (form I-551)
- Non-residents with a valid work visa (E1, E2, H1B, H2A, H2B, H3, L1 and G1-G4)
“Foreigners” whose main residence is not in the USA
In general, it is easier to get a loan if you fall into one of the first two categories. This is because mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – who buy most secondary home loans – have almost the same guidelines for green card and work visa holders as everyone else. The main caveat is that the lender must verify the applicant’s legal residence.
FHA mortgages for non-resident foreigners
The permanent employment / residence requirement is easier to meet thanks to the FHA mortgage. The guidelines state that if your visa or work permit has been renewed at least once, lenders can safely assume that your employment and stay will continue.
However, if you have never previously extended your visa or permit, the lender will likely investigate further. They can contact US Citizenship and Immigration Services for more information about your status, or contact your employer.
Conventional loans / VA
Conventional mortgages, i.e. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, require the borrower to provide a social security number, proof of residence and proof of income for at least three years. According to government guidelines, it is the lender who has to prove the legal residence of his borrowers – especially foreign buyers.
In the case of VA or traditional loans, the INS must have a valid visa with the EAD, which may be I-765 or I-766. You may also be required to produce form I-797A with I-94 or another valid work permit.
Welcome to America
The United States was founded by immigrants. And he has a proud history of receiving them. So there is nothing new here.
Lenders make credit decisions and determine mortgage transactions based on the risk: your creditworthiness, amount of down payment, financial resources and the amount you owe for other debts. When it comes to determining these offers, you’ll probably find yourself on an equal footing regardless of your civic status – provided you live here legally.