How to Qualify for a Mortgage on an H1B, L1A, L1B, O-Visa or an EAD

Updated on April 9, 2024

At a Glance

  • To qualify for a conventional loan, non-U.S. citizens need a minimum of 2 years of credit and employment history in the U.S., which can be combined with foreign history if it aligns with U.S. guidelines.
  • A valid work visa is required, and if it’s expiring soon, an assurance letter from the employer for visa extension is needed.
  • An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) may be required for conventional loans but not for FHA loans, which only require eligibility to work in the U.S. and an EAD if it will expire soon.
  • Down payment requirements are generally the same as for U.S. citizens, and interest rates are also comparable if the lender is willing to offer loans to non-permanent citizens.

As a non-U.S. citizen working on a work permit like H1B, L1A, L1B or O Visa or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), one needs to follow a few mortgage guidelines along with the minimum base qualification requirement, to qualify for Conventional or FHA loan.

The Base Qualification Requirement

  • Minimum 2 years of credit history in the U.S. But, you may also combine credit history from a foreign country that maintains similar credit reporting guidelines as the U.S.
  • Minimum 2 years of employment history in the U.S. However, if you have worked for the same organization in another foreign country, you may be allowed to combine the foreign history of that country as well.

Fannie Mae Guideline for Qualifying for a Conventional Loan

As per the Fannie Mae Handbook, “Fannie Mae purchases and securitizes mortgages made to non-U.S. citizens who are lawful permanent or non-permanent residents of the United States under the same terms that are available to U.S. citizens. Fannie Mae does not specify the precise documentation the lender must obtain to verify that a non-U.S. citizen borrower is legally present in the United States. The lender must make a determination of the non-U.S. citizen’s status based on the circumstances of the individual case, using documentation it deems appropriate.”

Important requirements

  • A valid work visa.
  • In case your work visa is expiring within a year, an assurance letter from your employer stating that they plan on applying for an extension of the visa is required.
  • EAD may not be considered a valid document by lenders, hence, get yourself an EAD while maintaining the work visa (if possible), before you apply for a conventional loan.

FHA Guideline for Qualifying for an FHA loan

As per FHA Handbook, “FHA insures mortgages made to non-permanent resident aliens provided that the borrower is eligible to work in the United States, as evidenced by an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by the USCIS.

If the EAD will expire within one year and a prior history of residency status renewals exists, the lender may assume that continuation will be granted. If there are no prior renewals, the lender must determine the likelihood of renewal, based on information from the USCIS. Note: Borrowers residing in the U.S. by virtue of refugee or asylee status granted by the USCIS are automatically eligible to work in this country. An EAD is not required.”

As per FHA, work visas are not enough for FHA loans by most lenders, they insist on an AED along with work visa. However, there are some exceptions to the rule.

Down Payment on Mortgage for non-U.S. citizens

In most cases, a non-U.S. citizen is required to make the same amount of down payment as a U.S. citizen. However, in the case of some jumbo loans, lenders may seek a higher down payment from non-permanent resident mortgages/borrowers.

Interest Rate for Conventional or FHA Loan for non-U.S. citizens

A qualifying non-U.S. citizen is entitled to the same rate of interest for both Conventional and FHA Loans as any U.S. citizen or a permanent resident provided the lender is willing to offer a loan to a non-permanent citizen.

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Qualifying for a mortgage on a work permit like H1B, L1A, L1B or O Visa or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is a challenge, considering the minimum basic requirement of two years of employment history and credit history in the U.S.

However, with modern fintech companies like Stilt, a non-U.S. citizen has a chance at loans and mortgages at an affordable rate of interest, without a cosigner.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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