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Can an immigrant really buy a house in the United States while being illegal? This is something we hear frequently in the office. 

The short answer is that yes, it is possible to buy a house in the United States as an undocumented alien. However, there are several factors to consider before doing so.

Buying a home in the US is often a long and complex process. For this reason, our experienced New Jersey real estate attorney at Curbelo Law is here to help. Call us today so we can evaluate your purchasing possibilities.

How Can an illegal immigrant Buy A House In The United States In 2022?

Next, we will show the ways an undocumented immigrant can buy a house in the US.

buying a property in the united states as an alien

1 # Buy It with Cash

Most undocumented aliens in the United States buy their properties in cash, since no law prohibits it. In fact, most foreign investors tend to purchase homes in the country.

  • Although there are certain legal and financial difficulties that the foreigner must overcome, many illegal aliens can, and actually manage, to buy a house in the US.
  • According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), more than 3 million undocumented immigrants own homes in the US. 
  • Undocumented immigrants must also pay property taxes.

In conclusion, illegal immigrants without papers can buy a house paying cash. However, this requires a large amount of resources that are not always available.

If an illegal immigrant can buy a house in the United States will they be able to buy it in specifically in Garden State? New Jersey is precisely where we serve for real estate matters. On our website we have a detailed guide focused on explaining what you need to buy a house in New Jersey.

2# Apply For An ITIN Number

In some cases, an illegal immigrant can also buy a house in the US with the help of the ITIN mortgage.

The ITIN number is a tax identification number created as an alternative to the Social Security number. The ITIN allows individuals with businesses or property in the US to pay their taxes on those assets.

what does an immigrant need to buy a house in usa

Undocumented immigrants can get an ITIN to open bank accounts, pay their income taxes, and qualify for a mortgage in the U.S. To apply for an ITIN, the foreigner must:

  • Complete Form W-7, Application for Internal Revenue Service Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS.
  • Have a federal tax return.
  • Have a passport or two of the following documents:
    • National identification document (must be current and include the name, address, photo, date of birth and expiration date of the document).
    • Foreign or American driver’s license.
    • Birth certificate.
    • US citizenship and photo from Immigration Services.
    • Voter registration card from abroad.
    • Unexpired visa that has been issued by the US Department of State (DOS).
    • US Military Identification Card

Did you know that the US government recognizes the importance and sacrifices of its military in the service of the country? For this reason, the government supports them through exclusive programs such as Military Parole in Place.

3# If You Have An ITIN Number, Save For The Down Payment

Once the undocumented alien obtains the ITIN number, they can apply for a personal loan with the ITIN. There are various US companies and banks that offer these services throughout the country.

  • Since there is added risk, most of these loans require a higher-than-average cash down payment. 
  • In most scenarios, the down payment will be 15% to 20% of the total value, but it could even be as high as 30%.
  • As for the credit score, a minimum of 720 points is likely to be required.
  • Individuals applying for an ITIN mortgage must have rates from the Home Owners Association (HOA) and the Housing Cooperative (Co-op).

Additionally, the lender may also require the following documents:

  • Two years of tax returns with the same ITIN number.
  • Bills for the last month or proof of income.
  • Employment history with your job title in the last two years.

Are you a Garden State resident thinking about applying for a home loan? Before doing so, we invite you to learn about the requirements for applying for a mortgage in New Jersey.

What Does An Immigrant Need To Buy A House?

Depending on the migratory scenario where the aliens are, they require one of the following documents, status or migratory relief:

  • Green Card. If an immigrant has obtained the Green Card, they will be able to benefit from some advantages similar to those of an American citizen. 
    • One of these advantages is that the resident will have to pay only 3% of the initial payment, compared to an undocumented person.
  • Valid work visa. Non-resident immigrants can apply for a mortgage if they have an employment visa. Some of these visas may give access to loans from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
    • For these procedures, the alien must have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and the digits of the Social Security.
  • Being a refugee or asylee. Immigrants who have applied for the asylum process in the USA can also opt for mortgages. 
    • For this, it is important to have Form I-94 , arrival/departure record, as well as an authorized employment document for at least 90 days from your entry into the country.
  • Employment contract. Workers whose contract is about to end (in less than a year), may need to request a document from their company showing their intention to renew the contract. 

Lenders require borrowers to have a stable income method to provide them with a loan. Therefore, losing your job could affect your mortgage eligibility.

what happens if I lose my job before closing on a mortgage

To delve deeper into this topic, check our blog: What happens if I lose my job before closing a mortgage?

Additional Documents

Non-citizens wondering how to buy a property in the United States must submitt some or all of the following documents to their mortgage lender:

  • Social Security Number or ITIN.
  • Valid foreign passport. If you do not have it, it can be a US visa or a driver’s license.
  • Proof of reserves.
  • Bank statements and financial records from your bank abroad.
  • Tax return.
  • Pay stubs.
  • Credit score.

Can You Buy A House In The United States Without A Green Card?

It is possible to buy a house in the United States without having a Green Card. The immigrant may be an asylee, refugee, temporary resident or beneficiary of DACA. However, there are factors to consider:

  • You may be subject to more stringent credit requirements.
  • A larger down payment than usual may be due.
  • Non-residents tend to obtain much more complex mortgage financing than the holder of the Green Card.
  • DACA recipients must intend to use that home as their primary residence.

Aliens with H-2A and H-2B business visas can buy a house in the US, but lenders must verify their right to reside in the country for at least 3 years.

H-1B visa recipients can also purchase property. On our website we have an article where we explain what the H-1B visas are and what is required to obtain them.

How Does the National Foreigner Status Affect Buying A Home In The US?

The alien’s status determines whether or not the individual qualifies for a mortgage loan. Next, we will detail these aspects.

immigrant family buying a house

Permanent Residents

Permanent residents can access the same loan services as US citizens, including Freddie MacFannie Mae and FHA. 

Refugees And Asylees

National foreigners with these statuses can apply for a loan through services that are supported by the government for American citizens. After one year of stay in the US, they can apply for a Green Card and get a property.

They can also apply for a home loan after submitting the I-94 form or employment authorization document.

DACA Recipients

National foreigners with this status must intend to use the property as a primary residence and have a minimum credit score of 620 points. However, their financing options are limited, as they can only apply for FHA loans.

Discover the requirements to apply for DACA on our blog.

Why Can An Illegal Immigrant Own Property and therefore buy a house In The United States?

The reality is that there is no law that prohibits the purchase of a property while being undocumented, therefore many foreign investors take advantage of this to buy a house in the US. 

  • Although undocumented immigrants can buy properties in cash or through the ITIN investment tool, the latter may have higher rates.
  • Another good option is to locate a smaller local bank or credit union that is willing to offer a loan at a lower rate.
  • Certain credit unions may have loan programs designed for immigrant borrowers.

Many national foreigners decide to invest in homes within the US, as it can be quite safe. This is because the dollar is a stable and highly valuable currency.

To learn about the different types of mortgage loans in the United States, we invite you to go through our respective publication where we delve into this topic.

What If I Experience Housing Discrimination For Being An Illegal Immigrant Trying to buy A Property?

If you experience discrimination at any point in the home buying process, there are steps to take:

  • Understand the law. Before your first meeting with a real estate agent, it is essential to understand the fair housing laws. This is because it is illegal for an agent to ask a buyer about their religion or immigration status.
  • Contact a Fair Housing Center. In most states there are agencies that participate in the fair housing assistance program. If you need to file a discrimination complaint, it can be done at these centers.
  • File a federal complaint. A fair housing complaint can be filed with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the same year the violation occurred.
    • A lawsuit may also be filed in federal or state court within two years of the violation.
immigration lawyers in new jersey

If you need legal assistance with any immigration relief, do not hesitate to contact us. In addition to experts in real estate matters, we are immigration lawyers in New Jersey.

What Is The Fair Housing Act? 

The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 and makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale, financing, or rental of property on the basis of sex, religion, race, national origin, or disability.

Frequently Asked Questions About Immigrants Buying Housing in the US

How long can I stay in the United States if I own property?

The amount of time that you can remain in the US will depend on the type of visa the immigrant you hold. For example, the B-1 business visitor visa or B-2 tourist visa is usually valid for up to 6 months, but in some cases it can be extended for longer. 

What If I don’t have a credit score or credit history in the US?

Lenders may require proof that you are a responsible borrower. Generally, two years of rental history, proof of payment of debts, or bank statements are required.

Can I qualify for a home loan if my income is low?

Low-income applicants may still qualify for a home loan, but it will be more difficult to find one. Generally, these individuals may qualify for a USDA rural home mortgage.

What happens to my property if I am deported?

Undocumented aliens are at risk of being deported from the US, thus their property would be negatively affected. For these scenarios, it is recommended to gift the house to a friend or family member, or to sell the house.

In New Jersey, the process of selling a property can be complex, you can learn all about it in our article on selling a house in New Jersey.

What Can Curbelo Law Do For Immigrant Home Buyers?

As we have seen throughout this article, we have answered the question: can an illegal immigrant buy a house in the United States? As we stated throughout the blog, in order to obtain a loan, credit is essential.

Lenders could be more demanding with national foreigners who lack documents to justify their credit. Therefore, we recommend that before embarking on this project, you consult the professionals at Curbelo Law.

The Curbelo Law firm has the reputation of being both an immigration and real estate law firm. With more than 10 years of experience in both subjects, any national foreigner will be in the best possible hands.

Call us today so that we can analyze your case and be able to offer you the best possible alternatives and legal paths so that you can fulfill your American dream.