Are you a nonimmigrant who wants to buy a house or property in the United States but is unsure if you can?
Well, we’re here to answer your question.
Some U.S. nonimmigrants may have aspired for a better future in the United States by securing a place where they can start this chapter of their new life.
Luckily, the laws in the United States do not prohibit a foreign citizen or non-immigrant from purchasing a property.
What type of property can you buy?
In reality, many foreign nationals own vacation houses in the country. You may purchase condo apartments, townhouses, single-family homes, etc.
However, holding a housing cooperative may be prohibited due to some restrictions like prohibiting foreign ownership.
Most of the time, they would perceive that as a foreign owner, there is no certainty that you would reside there permanently.
Additionally, it is possible for you to just rent it out to other people, which would increase the transients in the building. This can be something they don’t welcome.
How difficult is it to purchase a property?
The United States is more lenient in foreign investments than immigration. That means the U.S. is more welcoming to foreign nationals to invest in the United States, such as buying property.
In some cases, purchasing a property in the U.S. with cash is not difficult and takes only a few months. BUT it would be more challenging if you plan to secure a loan or a mortgage to purchase the property.
Most banks will ask you, as a foreign national or nonimmigrant, to establish your capability to fulfill your obligations to them by presenting requirements such as:
- A green card together with your social security number
- A temporary resident status together with a work permit (authorization) and valid social security number
- Proof of address and residency
- Proof of incomeTemporary Resident Status + Work Permit
- Proof of affordability
REMEMBER. If you visit the United States on a tourist visa, you will likely have problems obtaining a loan. Banks expect you to stay in the country for a specified time to fulfill your responsibilities.
However, this can be subjective, and some banks may still provide you with a loan.
YES! Some banks would be open to giving non-immigrants loans if they are their regular customers or have good financial conditions. Nevertheless, it will depend on the bank.
In addition, if you plan to buy a property but do not intend to move to the United States, the foreign national loan may be the only loan accessible to you.
HOWEVER, the disadvantages of this loan are that it demands a sizeable down payment, has high-interest rates, and requires you to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
To summarize, citizenship is not a barrier to obtaining property in the United States. BUT if you are planning to seek a loan for the purchase, your residency status may come into play.
Hence, your ability to get a mortgage as a non-US citizen may depend on your residency (temporary) status or circumstances.
Does purchasing a property affect my non-immigrant visa?
In some instances, purchasing a property MAY raise suspicion about your non-immigrant intent. From the very start, obtaining a non-immigrant visa is based on why you want to travel to the United States.
Let’s take this example. Say you are entering the United States on a tourist visa – for tourism. HOWEVER, while you were here, you purchased a property or a house. That might create suspicion since the USCIS may believe you have motives other than tourism.
On the other hand, that situation may be advantageous for green card holders seeking U.S. citizenship. Green card holders can argue in their petition that they intend to become bona fide U.S. citizens since they have invested in long-term assets such as real estate.
Can I purchase a property if I am an illegal (undocumented) immigrant?
As previously mentioned, YOU CAN. No legislation prevents you from doing so. In fact, some undocumented immigrants own a home or real estate and pay property taxes.
However, such decisions may come with a price.
Consider the following scenario: You are currently facing a property dispute, and a possibility that this would go to a trial or court proceedings.
This would mean that some personal information would need to be disclosed, such as your illegal status, which would result in unfortunate circumstances such as deportation or being barred from re-entering the country if they leave.
Before going through such decisions, it would be advisable for you to seek legal assistance from an experienced immigration attorney like me to know your options or to explain the legal repercussions of such decisions thoroughly.
Would purchasing a home or property in the United States provide me with a green card or any other type of visa?
In general, the answer is NO. However, in rare situations, the USCIS may grant a non-immigrant an E-2 investor visa or EB-5 visa, provided the investments meet the standards specified by those specific immigration rules.
It is crucial to understand that purchasing real estate in the United States does not automatically qualify you for an E-2 or EB-5 visa or any other type of visa. It would depend on how you structured such investments and if it shows that it would create more jobs for U.S. workers.
The bottom line is that having a house or property does not provide you with any immigration benefits, such as acquiring a green card, unless your circumstances qualify you for a specific type of visa.
If you want to learn more about the E-2 or EB-5 investor visa or other visas, don’t hesitate to contact us at Andres Mejer Law. We have worked with various immigration cases like these and have successfully helped our clients reach their goals.
Consult a Trusted Immigration Lawyer
Remember, if you are facing any immigration concerns, such as possible deportation, or are confused about what you need to do next, please do not hesitate to Andres Mejer Law. Our trusted New Jersey immigration attorneys will provide you with competent legal aid and assist you through the process.