For many foreign-born individuals living in the United States, owning a home is one of the cornerstones of the American dream. But there’s a perception among some non-U.S. citizens that there’s no way they can obtain a mortgage, thus creating a huge barrier to that goal.

However, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), resident foreign buyers those living in the United States either as recent immigrants or those holding visas for professional, educational or other purposes are more likely to purchase a home using a mortgage. In “Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate,” published in 2020, the NAR reported that 62% of resident foreign buyers acquired mortgage financing from U.S. sources.

Certainly, buying a home can present challenges if you’re not a citizen. But as the NAR report shows, the reality is that many lenders are willing to extend credit to non-citizens even to those without a credit history in the United States.1

Non-citizens who are lawful permanent residents, with the proper documentation, such as a valid green card, social security number, and two years of verifiable income, may even qualify for government-insured mortgages, which have the advantage of requiring low down payments.2 Here is what you need to know to qualify for a home loan in the U.S., even if you are not a citizen.

Home Ownership and Residency Status

One point to keep in mind is that the requirements for getting a home loan largely depend on one’s residency status. Most borrowers tend to fall within one of the following groups:

  • Permanent residents with a green card (Form I-551)
  • Non-permanent residents with a valid work visa (E1, E2, H1B, H2A, H2B, H3, L1, and G1-G4)
  • “Foreign nationals” whose primary residence is not in the U.S.


Generally, it’s much easier to get a loan if you fall into one of the first two categories. That’s because mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which buy the majority of home loans on the secondary market have pretty much the same guidelines for green card and work visa holders as anyone else.45

The main caveat is that the lender has to verify the legal residency of the applicant. However, foreign nationals don’t conform to Fannie or Freddie standards, so lenders have to keep these loans on their books. Because the bank assumes more risk this way, it’s more likely to require a substantial down payment.

Can I Get a Mortgage If I’m Not a U.S. Citizen?

If you are a legal permanent resident and meet specific mortgage requirements, yes, you may be eligible for a mortgage in the United States.


Should I Use an International Bank for My Mortgage?

If you live abroad but want to buy property in the U.S., it may be easiest to obtain a home loan through your international lender if they operate in North America, rather than applying for a loan through a U.S. domestic bank.


Can I Qualify for an FHA Loan?

FHA-backed loans are available to non-U.S. citizens who meet specific requirements, just like conventional mortgages.

The Bottom Line

Many banks and mortgage companies offer conventional and FHA home loans to non-U.S. citizens, provided they can verify their residency status, work history, and financial track record. Lenders that work with this population extensively tend to be more flexible with the documentation you need.

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