Immigration, as a topic, has been in the news a lot lately. Without weighing in politically, at least overtly, this is a matter close to my heart as it’s not hard for me to forget that my grandparents fit the classic Ellis Island mold that shaped the lives of countless Italian-Americans. A couple of years ago, I was honored to write a piece for our industry’s M Report, and in it, I tried to imagine what it was like for my immigrant grandfather to obtain his first mortgage here in the United States. Just conjuring his experience shed new light on my own value proposition and how I might better serve some of the most financially vulnerable, as they take a huge step towards realizing a big part of the American Dream, home ownership.
By now, most of us have heard of “the Dreamers.” These are individuals who have what is known as D.A.C.A. (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. Their citizenship, or lack of it, is part of what I want to cover here today, but it’s just a component of the larger policy towards lending guidance by Fannie Mae (FNMA). And FNMA’s guidelines apply to other non-U.S. citizens as well. Can they get a mortgage? If so, what paperwork must they provide? Let’s take a journey to discover what’s possible.
We’re going to use our DACA scenario and we’re going to assume that our borrower has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN. To be eligible for a conforming loan, a borrower must have a valid Social Security Number or ITIN. That is Step 1. Next we’re going to verify legally present status in the US. We can use this borrower’s EAD or “Employment Authorization Document” to accomplish this in our case here, but other documents that will verify status are Green Cards, work visas, entry stamps and I-551 stamps. So even though we are talking about a DACA example here, you can see that this flow chart would also apply to those on work visas such as the H-1b, L-1, etc. Verifying status is Step 2.
Once we have confirmed an SSN or ITIN and verified status, we will next attempt to meet standard income and employment guidelines, as well as all other credit qualifying aspects of the loan they seek. But keep in mind, this varies very little from what a US citizen might expect. For example, can we verify employment? Is there a history of earnings? Is the borrower self-employed? Assuming we can document stable employment and meet the requirements above, our DACA homebuyer may indeed be eligible for a conforming loan.
Creating a path to ownership for those on a path to US citizenship is an objective Fannie Mae is promoting through its practices and policies. We understand these and I feel a responsibility to help those new to our country share in the American Dream. If you need my confidential assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Many years ago, my grandfather bought a property in Brooklyn, NY, and became an American homeowner. All of our family’s generations to come benefited from that decision and that outcome. The rest, they say, is history —- the modern history of the United States of America, if you ask me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door,
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