Owning a home is a big part of the American dream, so preparing to buy one is an exciting next step to forge your new life in the United States. When it comes to applying for a home loan as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, you’ll find that the homebuying process is not as intimidating as it might seem at first glance.
DACA recipients, who also go by “dreamers,” are under a means of protection for children who entered the country illegally. As a dreamer, you’re granted access to apply for a social security number, driver’s license and work permit, but aren’t granted citizenship or official legal status. Despite these caveats, there are still ways to buy a home of your own.
Can DACA recipients buy a house?
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Fair Housing Act prohibits “discrimination in housing and community development programs and activities because of race, color, national original, familial status, and disability.” This means that DACA recipients can’t be denied housing based on their immigration status.
Yes — as a DACA recipient, you can buy a house. The way you apply and the types of loans you may qualify for, however, may come with certain restrictions and things to look out for.
What does the homebuying process looks like for DACA recipients?
The homebuying process for a DACA recipient looks relatively like the standard homebuying process:
- Get your finances and documents in order
- Start searching for lenders and loan options — you may want a mortgage broker to help you
- Get prequalified for a loan
- Find the home you’d like to purchase
- Make an offer
- Get a home inspection and appraisal
- Close on your home
The main difference in the homebuying process for a DACA recipient is during step two, the loan preapproval and application process. The historically most popular loan route for dreamers is conventional loans. Conventional loans are mortgages not backed by a government agency. FHA loans are an option to consider.
Once you find a home to purchase, a desired loan and lender, you can apply.
Beyond reporting your citizenship status to apply for the loan, you’ll need to provide a few things:
- A social security number or a tax ID, and an employment authorization document (EAD) to prove your legal presence in the U.S.
- Employment history, and proof of income, like a W-2 form, and pay stub and proof of assets, like bank statements.
For DACA FHA loans, the minimum qualifications are as follows:
- The property must be the borrower’s principal residence.
- FHA requires borrowers to have a valid Social Security Number (SSN).
- The borrower must be eligible to work in the U.S., as evidenced by their visa status or their Employment Authorization Document issued by the USCIS; The borrower must meet “the same requirements, terms, and conditions as those for U.S. citizens.”
- An Employment Authorization Document is required to substantiate work status. If the Employment Authorization Document expires within one year and a prior history of residency status renewals exists, the lender may assume that continuation will be granted.
- A borrower residing in the U.S. by virtue of refugee or asylee status granted by the USCIS is automatically eligible to work in this country. The Employment Authorization Document is not required, but documentation substantiating the refugee or asylee status must be obtained.
Need help navigating the mortgage application process? A mortgage broker can answer any questions that may come up along the way. Mortgage brokers can also find out what specific loans you may qualify for as a DACA recipient and can send your application out to multiple lenders.
Organizations that help DACA recipients
There are several organizations that help advocate for you as a DACA recipient and may provide other helpful resources:
- United We Dream: UWD is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country and is devoted to supporting immigrants and other marginalized communities in the U.S.
- Regents of the University of California: Many DACA recipients are or were students at the University of California. Because of this, a group was formed and offers legal aid, financial support and more to dreamers and their families.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): A nonprofit organization founded in 1920 that defends the constitutional rights and liberties of individuals in the U.S. The ACLU was an integral part of keeping DACA alive in 2017.
- Immigrant Resource Center: A nonprofit organization that provides legal training, educational and advocacy assistance to immigrants. This organization helps advocate for DACA recipients by helping with their applications.
Now that you know what you need to buy a home as a DACA recipient, you can continue your new life in the United States and hopefully find your dream home. We’re here to help! Home Lending Advisors fluent in Spanish are available upon request.