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FHA Loans and Citizenship Status

FHA loans are designed to help people achieve the American dream of home ownership in an affordable way. But does that help with part of the American dream extend to those who aren’t citizens of the United States?

According to the FHA official site, “Citizenship of the United States is not required for eligibility. When a mortgage loan applicant indicates on the loan application that he or she holds something other than U.S. citizenship, the lender must determine residency status from the documentation provided by the borrower.”

FHA rules allow lawful resident aliens to apply for FHA home loans. There are two types–permanent, and non-permanent resident aliens. Regardless of which status an applicant falls in, the FHA does have procedures to document and verify status so the loan application may proceed. For permanent resident aliens, FHA loans are provided under the same terms as those for U.S. citizens.

The FHA rules state, “The lender must document the mortgage file with evidence of permanent residency and indicate on the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) that the borrower is a lawful permanent resident alien. Evidence of lawful permanent residency is issued by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) within the Department of Homeland Security.”

For non-permanent resident aliens there are some additional requirements. The FHA will only insure a mortgage to a non-permanent resident alien if the property purchased with the FHA loan is to be the borrower’s principal residence. The FHA loan applicant must have a valid social security number and be eligible to work in the USA. The borrower will need a BCIS Employment Authorization Document as part of the loan application package.

When it comes to that document, the FHA rulebook for lenders states, “If the authorization for temporary residency status will expire within one year and a prior history of residency status renewals exists, the lender may assume continuation will be granted. If there are no prior renewals, the lender must determine the likelihood of renewal, based on information from the BCIS.”

Regardless of alien status, FHA rules are clear on the use of a social security card as a way to document work status–it’s not allowed.

“Although social security cards may indicate work status, such as ‘not valid for work purposes’ an individual’s work status may change without the change being reflected on the actual social security card. Therefore, the social security card is not to be used as evidence of work status for non-permanent resident aliens; the BCIS employment authorization document is to be used instead.”

FHA rules state that all of the above applies only to those with lawful residency in the United States.

Joe Wallace - Staff Writer

By Joe Wallace

May 17, 2011

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association. He was Managing editor for for (8) years and is currently the Associate Editor for

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About was launched in 2010 by seasoned mortgage professionals wanting to educate homebuyers about the guidelines for FHA insured mortgage loans. Popular FHA topics include credit requirements, FHA loan limits, mortgage insurance premiums, closing costs and many more. The authors have written thousands of blogs specific to FHA mortgages and the site has substantially increased readership over the years and has become known for its “FHA News and Views”.

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