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What are the Required Documents for a Foreign National Mortgage?

The required documents for a foreign national mortgage depend on the type of loan and the lender you're using to finance your United States residential property. Every mortgage lender and loan program has a unique set of requirements that borrowers must satisfy to be approved and  funded.

Below are the most common conditions foreign national mortgage applicants must provide to get approved and close on their loans:

  • Proof of foreign residency: Lenders require proof of foreign residency, such as a passport or visa.
  • Visa: Lenders typically want to see that a non-permanent resident has the right to remain in the country for at least another three years. Visa types include: B-1, B-2, H-2, H-3, I, J-1, J-2, O-2, P-1 and P-2. Or, you may reside in a visa waiver country. Your employer may have to provide a letter detailing information about your employment.
  • Down payment: A larger down payment is often required for foreign national mortgage loans than for traditional mortgage loans. A 30-50% down payment is commonly required for foreign national mortgage loans.
  • Credit history: While not always required, a good credit history can increase the chances of approval and potentially lead to better loan terms. Some foreign nationals have credit in the U.S. Those that don't may need to provide credit from their home country.
  • Tradelines: Most lenders will require two tradelines for 24 months or three tradelines for 12 months. Tradelines provide detailed information on a borrower's accounts and payment history.
  • FICO Scores: If you have FICO scores and your lender requires them, you’ll need at least two of three credit scores from the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and Transunion. If you have three tradelines, the lender will use the middle score. If you only have one tradeline, you’ll need to reach out to your creditors to see if they can report your account payment history to the other two credit bureaus.
  • Income verification: Foreign nationals will typically need to provide proof of income, such as paystubs, W2s, bank statements or tax returns.
  • Assets: A lender will verify your assets, including from foreign financial institutions, which can often be in a different language. (Your bank in your home country may need to provide a letter to the mortgage lender about your account.)
  • Sourcing Assets: In the United States, all lenders —including hard money lenders — must comply with Anti-Money Laundering laws. If you’re buying a house and wiring funds from a foreign account to the title company for the down payment, the lender will require at least two to six months of bank statements to verify any large deposits and confirm the wired funds did in fact come from you.
  • Appraisal: Lenders will require information about the property being purchased, including an appraisal. Hard money lenders may only require a Broker's Price Opinion (BPO) rather than a full interior and exterior appraisal.

This list is a good starting point for the documents you'll need to obtain a foreign national mortgage. Each foreign national loan that I’ve closed over the past two decades has had several unique underwriting conditions arise based upon the borrower’s specific circumstances. No two foreign national loan scenarios are the same. But these 10 requirements are a good starting point for preparing your personal and financial documents for a foreign national mortgage in the United States.    

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