Peter Park Peter Park Nov 03, 2023

SVP, National Sales Manager-Mortgage Banking


Good news–green card holders can indeed buy a house within the United States. In fact, you wouldn’t even need to be a resident of the US to purchase property. However, as a non-citizen, related steps (like acquiring a loan) may have complications. None are insurmountable or should stop green card holders from pursuing home ownership.

To help non-citizens navigate the already-complicated home-buying journey, we put together this guide and compiled the answers to frequently asked questions.


What to Expect from the Home Buying Process if Paying with Cash

The first thing you’ll no doubt notice is that this section is quite short, serving as a direct reflection of the home purchasing process for green card holders paying with cash (rather than a loan). This is because the requirements for non-citizens mimic the requirements for citizens; you’ll need a government-approved ID and proof of the funds.

Many green card holders and other non-citizens will opt to use American currency when purchasing their home. However, for those who want to use foreign funds, they’ll need to factor in fluctuating currency exchange rates and any related fees into their budget.

The above aside, the process of acquiring a mortgage loan most complicates the home-buying adventure for green card holders and other non-citizens.


Understanding the Process of Getting a Mortgage Loan as a Non-Citizen

Green card holders and non-permanent resident aliens will have an easier time acquiring a loan than non-residents; from the perspective of lenders, the roots green card holders established within their US communities mean that they’re more likely to prioritize their mortgage above other expenses in order to retain their home.





What Documents and Resources do Green Card Holders and Non-Citizens Need to Provide When Applying for a Mortgage:

  • Approved form of government ID – this can include your passport, driver’s license, or visa
  • Records of finances – the most common form of records are bank statements and tax returns
  • Proof of income – Your lender will want to evaluate pay slips and tax returns from the last two years. 1099 forms may be a suitable alternative for self-employed green card holders
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)


Other materials which the lender may request include:

  • Bank account information
  • Financial assets, including investments and retirement accounts
  • Property records
  • Payments for recurring bills (such as rent and utilities) to demonstrate fiscal responsibility


What to Expect as a Non-Resident?

But what about non-residents, meaning that they are neither a green card holder or have a SSN associated with being a non-permanent resident alien? Getting a loan is entirely possible, but options will be limited. Certain US banks offer foreign national loans specifically for such home-buyers, but requirements and rates will often be higher. This is primarily because the loans won’t be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that guarantee the mortgages of qualified applicants in order to incentivize lower rates for borrowers.


What About Credit Reports for Green Card Holders and Non-Citizens?

It’s common for loan companies to check the credit history of borrowers, leading some green card holders to wonder whether international transactions (both positive and negative) will have any bearing on their rates.

Credit scores do not roll over from one country to the next (not even between neighboring nations like the United States and Canada). However, the credit history you built up abroad won’t be null and void, as many lenders will pull an International Credit Report (ICR) to achieve a fuller picture of your financial track record. Such documents will provide a score (equivalent to the US credit scoring system), as well as details like loan and bill payments, past and present accounts, and outstanding debts.

To boost your score, read Get to Know (and Raise) your Credit Score.


FAQ About Acquiring a Mortgage as a Green Card Holder or Non-Permanent Resident Alien


  • Can green card holders and non-permanent resident aliens qualify for government-backed mortgage programs?

Green card holders can participate in a number of government-backed mortgage programs, including the ever-popular Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans that require lower credit scores and down payment minimums than many other loan options. Green card holders can also qualify for VA loans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, assuming that they meet the service requirements.


  • Can green card holders and non-permanent resident aliens use their foreign income to qualify for a mortgage? Yes, foreign income will meet many lenders’ proof of income


  • Can a green card holder's spouse, who is not a green card holder or U.S. citizen, be included on the mortgage application?

Yes, a green card holder's spouse, even if they are not a green card holder or U.S. citizen, can typically be included on the mortgage application. However, as is true for US citizens, both names on the mortgage application will be factored into the lender’s vetting process. We advise speaking with a knowledgeable mortgage expert about your specific situation so they can advise how you can get the best rates.


  • Can green card holders and individuals with non-permanent resident alien status acquire other types of property, such as secondary homes, plots of land, and buildings intended for commercial use?

Green card holders and other residents aren’t limited to solely buying homes, as the options available are near-limitless. If you seek financing for business needs, we suggest visiting our Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans page.


Additional Home-Buying Considerations Green Card Holders and Other Non-Citizens


  • Selling your home as a green card holder or non-citizen could introduce additional tax complications. Firstly, understand that the IRS will automatically claim 10% of the gross sale price as part of the Foreign Investment Real Property Tax Act. Then there’s the tax on capital gains; the good news is that, like US citizens, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains on your home sale ($500,000 for married couples), contingent upon you living in the house for at least two years out of the last five.

Because the taxation on selling a home accounts for various nuances and can be quite complex, we suggest consulting with a tax professional who can review your specific circumstances. For additional tips on selling your home while buying another, read Getting a New Mortgage Before Selling a House.


  • Taxation of rental income can also be complicated for non-residents. As if being a landlord isn’t difficult enough, non-residents face a headache-inducing amount of tax complications regarding rental income. Our advice is to speak with a tax professional who can guide you through each step, from explaining what added expenses to expect to completing paperwork on your behalf to helping you minimize the amount of taxes owed through filing deductions.


To summarize, most non-resident rental property owners should expect 30% of their gross income withheld upfront by the IRS, and this applies to any property rented out for at least 15 days out of the year (meaning vacation homes qualify). However, there are steps you can take to qualify for a different taxation structure.


Ready to Start Your Home-Buying Journey?

Talk to Bank of Hope

Whether you’re an American citizen, a green card holder, or hold another type of residency status, Bank of Hope can help guide you through the ups and downs of acquiring a home mortgage. We nurture a customer-first environment amongst our highly knowledgeable home financing experts who can offer personalized advice and answer all questions related to acquiring a mortgage as a green card holder.



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