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Purchasing a Home as an Undocumented Immigrant

Part of the American dream used to be buying a home and being able to raise a family in that home for many years. For some immigrants, even undocumented ones, this is still a dream and an important goal to attain. However, for undocumented immigrants, this dream may come with some difficulties, but it is still attainable.

It is not illegal for a person who is undocumented in the United States to purchase a car or even a home. The most significant difficulty in making these purchases arises in terms of securing money to make the purchase. Most people buying homes within the United States do so by securing financing through a mortgage. This requires providing the mortgage lender certain personal information that shows an ability to repay a loan in order to be approved for the mortgage.

If a person is undocumented, he may not necessarily have the employment history and credit history to be approved for a mortgage. However, there are some lenders who do different forms of background checks in order to allow a person without a social security number to secure a mortgage. Some immigrants are able to show employment history using tax returns. Undocumented immigrants regularly pay taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number, and this creates the kind of income history that may be acceptable to some lenders.

If an American citizen or permanent resident is married to an undocumented immigrant, the American citizen’s ability to purchase the home may be limited, as well. Some mortgage lenders require a married couple seeking financing to cosign the loan paperwork. Even if the American citizen is somehow able to purchase the home without including the spouse co-signing, the failure to co-sign keeps the American citizen from relying on the undocumented spouse’s income to secure the financing for the purchase of a home.

There is a difference between an immigrant spouse in the process of applying for lawful permanent residence or asylum, and one who may have difficulty in status despite being married to an American citizen. There are different considerations for each of these categories of immigrants, and there would be different considerations for each one.

An undocumented immigrant always has an option of making a cash purchase of a home. While this may be possible in areas of the country where homes are lower priced, it may be difficult or impossible in most areas of California where the cost of living is high. Making cash purchases for a home that is highly priced can also raise questions about the potential home buyer’s income sources, and infer that the income came from illegal sources.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

Home ownership and other strong ties to a community can sometimes be used as evidence against deporting an undocumented immigrant. If you are facing deportation proceedings, you need an experienced immigration attorney to help present your case to stay in the country. Contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to experienced immigration attorney Nathan Wei from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California for a consultation.