Can I Get a Jumbo Mortgage with an H-1B Visa?

Right now, immigration is a hot topic in the United States.  Also right now, real estate is a hot market in the United States.  And also right now, at the intersection of these two, I field a lot of questions from those with H-1B visas who are looking to get a jumbo mortgage in order to buy or refinance a home.  Here are the three most common:

  1. “Can I get a jumbo mortgage if I am on an H-1B visa?”
  2. “What are the requirements for getting a jumbo mortgage if I am on an H-1B?”
  3. “Are the terms any different for a visa holder compared to a US citizen?”

Let’s look at the answers for each, but first delve into just a little bit of the technical definitions of both the H-1B visa and a jumbo mortgage.

Citizenship Status and the H-1B

In mortgage lending, we generally recognize four statuses for citizenship; US citizen, permanent resident alien (green card), non-permanent resident alien and non-resident.  In the eyes of most jumbo guidelines, US citizens and permanent resident aliens are essentially treated the same.  Non-residents, also known as foreign nationals, are generally not eligible for conventional financing, though there are loan options that exist for them which I have covered in a separate post.  The H-1B falls into the non-permanent resident alien status. 

An H-1B visa allows an individual to temporarily work in the US in a “specialty occupation.” Specialty occupations may include those in high tech, science, medicine and business/finance.  So the question remains, how does the lending industry treat an H-1B/non-permanent resident alien?

Jumbo Mortgages

One might think that a jumbo mortgage could most easily be defined by loan size — and there is some truth to this.  However, in many higher-cost areas of the US, the conforming loan limits differ.  Across most of the country, the one-unit conforming loan maximum is presently $548,250.  But here in Marin County, for example, our conforming limit is $822,375.  So yes, a jumbo loan would be anything over the conforming limit, regardless of location, but there are also some lending options that will allow a jumbo loan below the high-balance conforming loan limit ($822,375, in our example) but above $548,250. 

Therefore, “jumbo” is not exclusively tied to loan size and a better definition might go something like this:  A jumbo loan has a loan amount that is typically above the conforming loan limit and that follows the qualified mortgage (QM) requirements.  Jumbo loans are not securitized by the “agencies,” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Jumbo loans are most often underwritten to a specific investor’s guidelines and funded with that investor’s deposit base.  The investor has additional discretion over the qualifying guidelines of the loan itself and this may result in a more intensive process, additional documentation from the borrower and a more restrictive qualifying standard when compared to conforming loans.

Putting It All Together

Now that we’ve established that we have an eligible visa holder and the need for a jumbo mortgage, what will this borrower face once in the loan process?  First off, the answer is “yes” an H-1B holder can get a jumbo mortgage!  Often at the exact same terms as a citizen or green card holder. 

The key sticking points for these borrowers often tend to revolve around history.  Lenders like to see a two-year credit history (US credit, FICO scores, etc.) and a two-year tax return history.  It’s very difficult for a newly minted H-1B holder to get financing based on the historical proclivities of the lending industry, but once there is a track record, things open up substantially.  As for loan amounts, rates, and loan programs, again, so long as the history piece is met, we generally do not find there are any additional restrictions or restraints for a non-permanent resident alien.  And yes, we see these applicants all the time here in the tech-heavy Bay Area.

If you are a visa holder and have questions about a jumbo mortgage, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Pre-approval is free and does not obligate any applicant, but before the application is completed, I am available to answer any questions you may have.

Welcome!

Rob Spinosa
Senior Vice President of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343 
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959 
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office:  324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA  94960

Berkeley Office:  1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA  94709
 

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate.  In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Jumbo Mortgage with an H-4 Visa

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking,

my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service,

and my health to better living,

for my club, my community,

my country and my world.”

Hold on a second! That’s the pledge for 4-H Club, Rob, and you’re supposed to be discussing the H-4 visa here. You’ve got it backwards. Ah yes….sorry about that.

The H-4 visa. This is a visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members of H-1B visa holders. These individuals are not US citizens or permanent resident aliens (green card holders) but “non-permanent resident aliens.” Make special note that they are also not “foreign nationals” or “non-residents.” That aside, it is not uncommon for us to get a call from H-1B/H-4 holders who have attempted to qualify for a home loan and been told by their lender that the income from the H-4 holder cannot be considered. Naturally a married couple purchasing a home would plan to use the combined household income and often they’ve used online tools and calculators to determine their debt-to-income (DTI) ratio in this manner. However, the vast majority of lenders will not permit the income of the H-4 holder and when the spouse’s income is removed from the loan application, often a denied loan is the result. But there is hope and we do have jumbo mortgage programs that will allow H-4 income.  These programs will also allow for a 10% down payment up to purchase prices approaching $2MM.

Here in California, we will accept the income of both the H-1B and H-4 visa holder assuming, in addition to other requirements, we have the items below:

  1. Social security numbers for both borrowers.
  2. At least two years of filed tax returns in the United States.
  3. At least two years of US credit history and acceptable FICO scores.

Aside from the H-1B and H-4 visa, I am no stranger to the other types of non-permanent resident alien visas that we commonly see here in California, and they include; E-1 and E-2 visas, the L-1A and L-1B, the L2 and others. If you’re unsure if your visa type is eligible for mortgage financing, please get in touch any time.

To make the best better,

 

Rob Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Foreigners Have Been Waiting for a Loan Like This

California has both a dynamic and desirable real estate market and in the recent years we’ve seen an influx of foreign buyers. Despite the headlines such as, “Chinese Billionaires Snapping Up San Francisco Real Estate with All Cash Offers 150% Over Asking…,” I can attest that not every foreign buyer is able to purchase real estate with a Louis Vuitton suitcase bursting full of hard currency. In fact, many of them seek mortgage financing for any number of valid reasons and when they do, we are often able to help.

Foreign nationals are citizens of another country. They have their primary residence abroad and their employment is usually headquartered in that nation. In order to travel to the US they will need a valid passport and, sometimes, visa, and so we’ll ask for these documents. An important point here is that we are NOT looking to lend to primary home buyers on this program. Why? Because if someone is purchasing a primary home here but is a citizen of another country, there is very likely an immigration issue. So on this program, we will accept second homes and, on occasion, rental properties.

What about income and employment? We can document earnings for the borrower in a number of ways but it will largely depend on the country of origin and the customary manner in which income is reported in that place. Take Canada, eh? They have tax returns that are nearly identical to ours and they have a form that is eerily similar to our W-2. Oh, and even though they talk funny, most of them speak English so it’s easy to interpret any documents. But if in French (or any other foreign language), official translation is permitted as well.

Assets are documented through bank statements, just as they are domestically and internationally recognized institutions are pretty much a requirement here. Please be aware that there are some countries affected by sanctions (Iran is one, for example) and funds from their institutions may not be allowed. But you get the idea. If the funds are sourceable, and the country is not subject to any restrictions, we should be OK.

Ah, and what about credit?  How do we know that an international borrower is creditworthy when we don’t have the benefit of a credit report? This too will depend on the circumstances. Sometimes a foreign credit report is available, but often we can use letters from creditors to document timely payments on rents, autos or other obligations. At the end of the day though, FICO scores are not required on this program.

With all of the above, we’re in good shape to lend up to 60% of the purchase price/value of a home up to a loan amount of $2MM. And we can go higher on loan amount with lower loan-to-value (LTV). But let’s not forget perhaps the most important aspect of the foreign national loan program: Some of our existing, non-permanent resident aliens (those on work visas) may also be a fit. Today’s jumbo loan requirements often require a two-year US tax filing history and a two-year US credit depth in order to obtain best terms and it is not unusual for those newer to the country (but on a work visa) to not yet have the requisite history. Our foreign national loan will take them in and allow them to borrow up to 70% of the purchase price (to a loan amount of $2MM).

Our foreign national loan program can be the passport to home ownership in the US for those abroad, and for those who are new to the states but actively transitioning from a work visa status to something more permanent (green card, for example). If you have questions about this program, don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

Stars in his eyes, 

 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959 Fax: 415-366-1590
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Can You Get a Mortgage with an ITIN?

The fact is, despite a very hotly contested immigration debate today in our nation, there are likely several million people in the United States who do not have a Social Security number (SSN), but pay billions in taxes every year. These individuals might be non-resident foreign nationals who receive taxable income from a US business. Or they may be dependents or spouses of citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) or foreign nationals on work visas. But if they earn income here, how would they file a tax return without an SSN, you might ask? The answer is the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or “ITIN.”

Now again, we’re not going to takes sides in the immigration issue here. We are not going to report ITIN borrowers to Immigration and Customs.  ITINs do not provide legal immigration status or work authorization — they are merely an IRS tool for permitting an individual to comply with tax laws and as a result when they do, some of them become eligible for a mortgage via specific programs that accommodate this type of identification. Many ITIN holders and real estate professionals are not aware of this and the aim of this post is to outline what is required to obtain a home loan with a combination of an ITIN, employment documentation, residency documentation, and, of course, a down payment. Let’s take a look at what’s possible.

On the purchase of a home, an ITIN buyer will typically need to put between 25% and 30% of the purchase price down, and these funds will need to be documented with bank statements and/or gift letters, just as for a US citizen. Money from abroad can be used, but must be sourceable. We’ll also look at income and employment with a combination of one year of tax returns and written and verbal verifications of employment. Our borrower must be working and able to repay the loan.

Since an ITIN borrower will not, by definition, have a Social Security number, our investor will pull a version of a credit report using the ITIN number. And herein lies an important caveat for the ITIN borrower. If his/her tax return contains a false SSN or otherwise invalid ITIN, the borrower would not be eligible. We are not interested in financing those who are working outside of the tax system and perhaps fraudulently using another’s ID forms. Our borrower must be legitimately filing with an ITIN for the last year. In order to calculate liabilities correctly a complete list of obligations will be used to determine debt-to-income (DTI). We will often reference the history on any credit cards, auto loans, etc., to verify satisfactory payment history.

We offer fixed rate loans to our ITIN customers and loan amounts can go from $100K all the way into jumbo territory. For details on programs, rates and terms, don’t hesitate to get in touch. But know that if you’ve been working in the US and paying into the system, yet don’t have a Social Security number, you are not, by definition out of luck.

Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone, 

 
Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960

Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283