As of June 25, 2018, we’ve made some changes to the way our mortgage approvals work. You can read more about our Power Buyer ProcessTM.
Whether you’ve come from thousands of miles away or just a few, you’ve made it to the United States. Putting down your roots is an important step of the process, and one way to do that is through owning a home, which is a huge part of the American dream for many people.
Preparation is one key to owning a home. Let’s talk about some of the documentation and requirements for immigrants who are applying for a home loan.
Mortgage Documentation Needed by Immigration Status
One of the key factors in determining the documentation needed for mortgage eligibility is your legal residency status within the U.S. Different lenders may have different policies regarding what’s required, but all will need you to prove residency status. The following sections are based on the policies of Quicken Loans.
If you immigrated as a permanent resident, you can apply for a mortgage under the same terms as a U.S. citizen, but you also need proof of residency status. This can be provided in any of the following forms:
- A green card (permanent or conditional residency)
- A valid foreign passport with a stamp that it’s been approved as temporary evidence for an I-551 (green card) with an unexpired date showing that employment is authorized
If your green card is expired or will expire in the next six months and you currently live in the U.S., please visit U.S. citizenship and immigration services in order to begin the process of renewing your green card.
Conditional Permanent Residency
If you’re considered a conditional permanent resident, you can apply for a mortgage under the same terms as a citizen, but you also need one of the following pieces of documentation:
- An unexpired two-year green card that has its conditions/limits and an expiration date listed
- An unexpired foreign passport with a valid stamp that reads “Upon endorsement serves as temporary I-551 evidencing permanent residence for 1 year”
If you’re still waiting for a decision regarding your permanent residency, make sure you have a copy of your I-797 or I-829.
Asylee and Refugee Status
If you’ve been granted refugee or asylum status within the U.S., you can also apply for a mortgage under the same terms as a citizen, with proof of your asylee or refugee status as well as one of the following documents:
- Form I-94A stamped with valid employment authorization
- A copy of your employment authorization document
- Any other evidence of asylee or refugee status provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
If you’re a refugee, you can also apply with a foreign passport that’s been stamped “Admission for Permanent Residence” with an unexpired date.
If you’re a non-permanent resident, the required paperwork you need with your mortgage application depends on the type of loan you’re applying for.
For conforming loans below jumbo levels (generally $453,100, but could be higher in high-cost areas), you must have a valid visa or employment authorization document. There are a lot of different types, but the key rule here is one involving your ability to remain employed in the U.S.
In order to get approved for a home loan, there’s an expectation that you’ll be able to continue working and reside in the U.S. for at least the next three years.
With a jumbo loan, you also need three years of established residency and work history in the U.S.
In terms of mortgage approvals, there are a couple of restrictions for all non-U.S. citizens.
- If you have full diplomatic immunity, you can’t qualify for a mortgage because you’re not subject to U.S. law.
- However, limited diplomatic immunity that only applies to work duties is OK.
- Additionally, anyone applying for a mortgage must have a valid Social Security number.
The paperwork is just the first step. Moving from another country, you may have to convert your existing credit to U.S. credit in order to apply for any kind of loan or credit card.
In some cases, if you’re relocating through your company for employment in the U.S., it may be possible to do a nontraditional credit check – you provide documentation based on your credit history in any country in which you’ve established credit.
If you are using international credit, you also have to complete a homeownership education course. Your Home Loan Expert will be able to give you more information on courses that qualify.
Whether a credit conversion is necessary may depend on your situation at the time of the loan and the policies of your lender. Not all lenders are set up for this process. At this time, Quicken Loans doesn’t offer international credit conversion.
In order to make the process of converting your credit smooth, have your U.S. Social Security number as well as pay stubs for proof of income at the ready. Four credit references, each with a two-year history and contact information from your former country, are also necessary, as are bank account statements. One of the credit references must be your housing or rent.
Depending on which loan option you go with, there are different requirements regarding credit history. For now, just know you’ll have to meet standard credit requirements in order to qualify.
The fact that you’ve come to the U.S. shouldn’t be a roadblock for you to buy a home. You may have to gather some additional documentation, but after that, everything about the mortgage process is the same.
If you’re ready to apply, you can get started online or give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (800) 785-4788. If you have any questions, you can leave them for us in the comments section below.
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