For many non-permanent U.S. residents, the idea of owning a home in the United States may seem out of reach. The good news is that yes, non-permanent residents may be able to buy a house in the United States — however, there might be more steps to take and more documentation to present. If you’re wondering how to buy a home as a non-permanent resident, we’ve outlined some key considerations below.
Non-permanent resident vs. permanent resident
To start, it’s key to know the difference between a non-permanent vs. permanent resident. A non-permanent resident is a non-U.S. citizen living in the United States for a set period. Once that time expires, the individual is normally required to leave the country, unless their immigration status has changed and they’re granted the right to remain. By definition, a non-permanent resident does not possess a green card. A green card is an identification card that shows the person has legal, permanent residence in the country.
By contrast, a permanent resident does possess a green card. As a permanent resident, applying for a mortgage in the United States is typically similar to applying for a mortgage as a U.S. citizen, with access to the same types of mortgage products, subject to eligibility. As part of your mortgage application, you will likely need to show proof of your permanent residency.
Can a non-permanent resident buy a house in the U.S.?
Yes, it is possible for a non-permanent resident to buy a house in the United States. Mortgage approval odds generally depend on the lender, type of mortgage, income status and whether the non-permanent resident can prove their intent for long-term residency. Typically, lenders wish to see that a non-permanent resident has the right to remain in the country for at least another three years, though requirements vary among lenders.
What’s needed to buy a house as a non-permanent resident?
No matter your residency status, you’re typically required to provide a Social Security number or federal ID, a credit history and proof of income to secure a mortgage. For applicants yet to build credit history in the United States, your lender may be willing to accept evidence of your credit history from your previous country of residence. As a non-permanent resident, your lender may also ask for a range of additional documentation proving your residency status and employment authorization, among other items that support:
- Your lawful status as a non-permanent resident and impending visa renewal (or reasonable expectation of continued residency, visa requirement may change check US Immigration for the latest information and requirements).
- Your ability to make mortgage payments.
- Your intent to maintain your primary residence in the United States.
Mortgage options to consider as a non-permanent resident
Mortgage options for non-permanent residents tend to vary from lender to lender. FHA and conventional loans typically require evidence of Social Security numbers along with employment authorization documents (EAD). If the prospective borrower doesn’t have an EAD, they may instead be able to provide an employment visa as proof of legal residency and their right to work.
While each situation is different, the H-1B and some other series-H visas, in addition to the Canadian and Mexican NAFTA series, E series, G series, L series, NATO series and O series visas might qualify in this regard. As a non-permanent resident, you can typically only apply for a mortgage for your primary residency.
Buying a home as a non-resident in the U.S. is possible. With the right conditions, the right lender and the right documents, owning a home in the in the U.S. might just be a part of your future living arrangements.