How to Buy a House on OPT

Posted by Frank Gogol
Updated on April 27, 2022

Most F1 students on OPT in the U.S. dream of a long and fruitful life in America. One with a great job and maybe they might even own their own home. But what if OPT students could own that home now? Read on to learn more more about getting a mortgage as an OPT international student in the U.S.!

What is Optional Practical Training?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. F1 visa students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (known as pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (known as post-completion).

The purpose of OPT is to offer international students on-the-job practical experience to carry forward with them to their future employment, whether it be in the U.S. or aboard.

Can Immigrants on an OPT Buy Homes in the U.S.?

A popular question for international students on OPT concerns their ability to purchase a home in the U.S. For many, the hoped-for trajectory is to complete their OPT and studies and then procure a job that will lead to an H1B visa and then, eventually, to a green card. And with these long-term goals in mind, many OPT international students want to know if they can buy a home in the U.S.

The answer is “yes”.

Any legal resident (visa holder or otherwise) of the U.S. is able to purchase a home. That said, it will be a more daunting process for an OPT international student than it would be for a proper U.S. citizen. Still, it is possible, and it’s a worthwhile investment.

Should OPT Students Buy Homes in the U.S.

As with every kind of major purchase, there are pros and cons to buying a home in the U.S. But in the case of an OPT student buying a home, the pros outweigh the cons. Some of the benefits, but not all, include:

  • Having more agency of your living arrangements while in school
  • Building equity, and therefore more buying and investing power later
  • Getting significant tax benefits if you sell your home

These are just a few of the numerous perks that come with owning a home in the U.S. So, if you want to own a home in the U.S., how do you go about it?

How to Buy a Home on an OPT in the U.S.

The home buying process for immigrants, visa holders, and international students on OPT in the U.S. is more or less the same as it is for U.S. citizens. This process is well-documented in many other places, but at a glance, these are the steps:

  1. Determine how much you can afford to spend on a house
  2. Get Pre-approved for credit for your Mortgage
  3. Find the right Real Estate Agent
  4. Shop for a Home
  5. Make an Offer
  6. Get a Home Inspection
  7. Secure the Mortgage
  8. Obtain insurance and establish utilities
  9. Close the deal

But while it’s true that the process is pretty much identical for visa holders and U.S. citizens, it’s in the second step, involving securing a mortgage, that most international students on OPT, most visa holders in general, will have the most trouble.

The truth is, due to lack of credit history in the U.S. (and other factors that apply specifically to visa holders), OPT students will need to be smart about how they secure a mortgage in the U.S.

Is There Such a Thing as an OPT Mortgage Loan?

There are no mortgages designed specifically to be “OPT mortgage loans” in the U.S. That said there are options available to OPT international students.

Both FHA loans and mortgages from big banks are viable options for people on OPT who need a home loan, but these options are not without their difficulties for visa holders. You’ll be required to have a social security number, which not all immigrants have. You’ll also need a U.S. credit history and credit score, which, again, not all visa holders will have. Lastly, you’ll find that many lenders are risk-averse and that they find lending to visa holders, whose time in the U.S. is bound to their visa status, are high-risk.

Still, while it’s not possible to get a specific OPT mortgage, there are options available to you. And, yes, it will be more difficult for a visa holder to get a mortgage loan, there are ways to make yourself less of a risk to lenders and one of the ways to do that is with a strong down payment.

3 Simple Steps to Applying for a OPT Mortgage Loan

If you are considering applying for a personal loan for OPT mortgage loan, just follow these 3 simple steps.

Apply

Apply online for the loan amount you need. Submit the required documentation and provide your best possible application. Stronger applications get better loan offers.

Accept

If your application meets the eligibility criteria, the lender will contact you with regard to your application. Provide any additional information if required. Soon you’ll have your loan offer. Some lenders send a promissory note with your loan offer. Sign and return that note if you wish to accept the loan offer.

Repay

The loan then gets disbursed into your U.S. bank account within a reasonable number of days (some lenders will be as quick as 2-3 business days). Now you need to set up your repayment method. You can choose an autopay method online to help you pay on time every month.

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The Wrap Up

If you’re an OPT international student in the U.S. and you’re planning (or hoping, at least) for a long future in the U.S., it absolutely makes sense to invest in owning your own home.

And while there’s no such thing as an “OPT mortgage loan”, there are plenty of options available to you as an international student on OPT.

Your chances of owning a home will be even greater if you can make a sizable down payment on your mortgage. But luckily, there are companies like Stilt to help increase your chances of securing a home loan.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started today!


Need a Loan? Get One in 3 Simple Steps

If you are considering applying for a personal loan, just follow these 3 simple steps.

Apply

Apply online for the loan amount you need. Submit the required documentation and provide your best possible application. Stronger applications get better loan offers.

Accept

If your application meets the eligibility criteria, the lender will contact you with regard to your application. Provide any additional information if required. Soon you’ll have your loan offer. Some lenders send a promissory note with your loan offer. Sign and return that note if you wish to accept the loan offer.

Repay

The loan then gets disbursed into your U.S. bank account within a reasonable number of days (some lenders will be as quick as 2-3 business days). Now you need to set up your repayment method. You can choose an autopay method online to help you pay on time every month.

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About Stilt

Stilt provides loans to international students and working professionals in the U.S. (F-1, OPT, H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN visa holders) at rates lower than any other lender. Stilt is committed to helping immigrants build a better financial future.

We take a holistic underwriting approach to determine your interest rates and make sure you get the lowest rate possible. 

Learn what others are saying about us on Google, Yelp, and Facebook or visit us at https://www.stilt.com. If you have any questions, send us an email at [email protected]