Can I Buy a House While Waiting for Citizenship?

For many individuals, owning a home symbolizes the American dream, something to call their own and pass down to the next generation. But what about immigrants who are not yet citizens? Can they own property in the United States? While the path to home ownership may not be an easy one for most, it is within reach.

There are no laws prohibiting undocumented immigrants from owning property in the U.S. In fact, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, around one-third of the undocumented population in the United States are homeowners. There are a few different options for purchasing a home, depending on your resources and immigration status.

Fannie Mae or FHA Loans

Permanent residents with green cards can apply for Fannie Mae or FHA loans just like U.S. citizens. While the processor may request additional proof of your residency, the process is generally the same as it is for naturalized citizens. Yet it is important to note that to qualify for this type of loan, applicants must provide at least two months of bank statements, two years of credit history, and other proof of consistent income. It may take a few years for new residents to establish this financial foundation before applying for a loan.

Immigrants working in the U.S. on a work visa are also eligible for the same types of loans. Depending on the date your visa is scheduled to expire, your lender may request a letter from your employer verifying that it will be renewed and your employment will continue. Applicants with work visas also need to provide their tax returns and credit history, which can be a hurdle for immigrants who are new to this country.

Some lenders specialize in helping non-citizens obtain loans and will consider income and credit histories from other countries.

ITIN Loans

Another option for undocumented immigrants who do not the enough cash readily available to purchase a home is an ITIN mortgage. ITIN stands for individual tax identification number. An ITIN is an alternative to a social security number that is assigned to foreign nationals owning property or businesses in the U.S. It allows them to pay taxes on these assets.

You can apply for an ITIN number using Form W-7 “Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number”. After the form is completed and submitted, you should receive your nine-digit ITIN number within six weeks or so.

After you have an ITIN number, you can apply for an ITIN loan. Much like traditional loans, ITIN loans require similar documentation to establish your fiscal history including tax returns, employment history, and proof of income. The downside of ITIN loans is they often ask for a significant cash down payment – as high as 30 percent, and interest rates for ITIN loans are typically higher than other types of loans.

Surin & Griffin, P.C. Provides Smart Philadelphia Immigration Advice for Clients Throughout Pennsylvania

If you have questions about owning a home in the United States while waiting for citizenship, contact Surin & Griffin, P.C. for advice from the firm that has been advocating for foreign-born clients for more than 15 years. At Surin & Griffin, P.C., your dedicated Philadelphia immigration lawyer will review your situation and recommend the next best step to take to resolve your immigration matter and achieve your goals. Call 215-925-4435 today or contact us online to get started.

Located in Center City Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, including those in Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, Merion Station, Darby, Wynnewood, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, Narberth, Folcroft, Cheltenham, Clifton Heights, Lansdowne, Glenolden, Drexel Hill, Elkins Park, Havertown, Norwood, Ardmore, Holmes, Essington, Wyncote, Prospect Park, Delaware County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia County.