Wrongly, at one of my trainings, I had an agent ask me how to finance a resident, non-US citizen “since they can’t use FHA”. Several other agents at the session were under the same impression. Not something you may run into every day but still worth the effort to know that in fact, certain non-US citizens (immigrants) can use FHA financing to purchase a home!
Residency Status Is Key
Some of the confusion may derive from the fact FHA does have criteria the borrower needs to meet. These guidelines are in place so that the lender can establish the type of residency status of the borrower. The key to approval is for the borrower to have an approved residency called a “permanent resident alien” status. Any borrower who has “permanent resident alien” status will also have a social security number. They also should have a social security card. If they don’t, the lender will need to validate that the borrower has a social security number. This can be done by obtaining a letter from social security, or a copy of a tax return, W-2, or 1099.
As I discussed this further with the agents, I learned the confusion on this topic revolves around residency. “Permanent resident aliens” actually live in the United States and with their social security number may buy a home using an FHA loan. Non-residents may not utilize FHA for financing. It is important to understand this distinction prior to beginning to work with any buyer.