If you aren’t a citizen of the US, but you have a Work Visa and want to establish residency here, you may be able to with a few different mortgage programs. Both conventional loans and FHA loans are available to H-1B workers.
Just how does it work? Keep reading to learn more.
The First Step
Before you do anything, you’ll need to prove that you have the right to work in the United States. Your work visa is what lenders need to see, so that they know that you have a reason to be here in the United States. What this does is help lenders know that you aren’t a high risk of default. If you didn’t have a work visa, you don’t have anything pressing keeping you in the US. If things get tough, you could just pick up and move back to your home country, leaving the lender with a huge loss and a home that they need to sell.
One of the largest requirements that lenders have with the work visa, is that it must be good for at least three years. This is the standard requirement for any income that even US citizens use to qualify for a mortgage. Lenders want to know that the income is good and will last for the foreseeable future. Of course, things can change that are outside of your control, but for the time being, that is the assumption.
Proving Your Worthiness
Once you prove that you have the right to be in the United States, you have to prove that you are worthy of the program. In other words, you must prove that you have the credit score and financial means to qualify for the loan.
The credit score can be the trickiest part of getting approved. If you aren’t a citizen and you don’t have a social security number, you don’t have credit. That doesn’t automatically disqualify you for the loan, though. While it’s ideal if you have a credit history with at least 3 or 4 trade lines, you can also use alternative credit.
Alternative credit is other bills that you have that don’t report to the credit bureaus. The most common are:
- Utility bills
- Cellphone bills
- Insurance payments
- Tuition payments
Any bill that you pay on a regular basis and that you can prove that you have paid on time for the last 2 years will suffice. In fact, if you’ve paid a landlord rent for the last 2 years, that will work even better.
Validating Your Income
Now even though you’ve proven your right to work in the US, you must also prove that you have a history of making income. If you just got here and your income is from your home country, you may need to hire a translator to create the documents in English so that the lender can verify your income.
Just as is the case for citizens of the US, lenders like to see income over the last 2 years. They want to see that your income was stable and reliable. If your income is in another currency, the translator will have to convert it to US dollars in order for the lender to determine how your income stacks up compared to your debts and the potential mortgage payment.
Money Down on the Home
The final requirement is money down on the home. You will need a down payment; it’s just a matter of how much. Typically, you need 3.5% for an FHA loan and 5% for a conventional loan. Some lenders may require higher down payments because of the risk that you pose being an H-1B visa holder. It will vary by lender, so make sure that you shop around if you find that one lender requires a down payment that you don’t have.
The bottom line is that you can probably qualify for a loan even if you are an H-1B visa holder. It will help if you have great qualifying factors so that you can prove to a lender that you are a good risk. Even if you don’t, though, keep searching for a lender that will accept your qualifications for the loan.