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Can a foreign national get a mortgage on a visa?

A simple and (nearly) definitive guide to whether foreign nationals from outside the EU can get a mortgage.

One of our main areas of business is foreign nationals on visa’s, and it’s interesting to see how many people are asking on forums on other websites whether it’s possible for them to get a mortgage and how much misinformation is spread around.

So let’s dispel some myths first. Getting a mortgage on a visa isn’t difficult in per se. The vast majority of lenders however will not lend at all on these cases.

So it’s very difficult for a member of the general public to try and find the right lenders and at the same time make sure that all other requirements are met too.

That’s why you see so many people on forums trying a lender recommended by someone else but then being told they cannot apply.

The benefit of an advisor like ourselves is knowing which lenders we can ignore altogether (and dealing with these applications frequently enough to know if they have recently changed their rules).

And at the same time knowing enough about all of the other eligibility rules to quickly and easily determine whether you will be able to get a loan.

It’s not something where the lender makes a case by case decision (in general), for most applicants if they meet the guidelines below then they will be accepted subject to credit scoring and all other rules.

We normally offer a fee free service, so there’s very little to gain in trying to DIY an application (whether you’re on a visa or not).

So the point of this post is to give you a simple answer as to whether we have lenders who can consider your application and visa status.

It’s also very difficult to be definite because this post basically compresses the true bulk of the different lenders eligibility rules to try and make things simple.

So if you don’t meet the rules below feel free to ask us about your situation and we will be happy to go into more detail.

So then, can we get you a mortgage?

 

Applicants who have lived in the UK for more than 2 years

If you have resided in the UK permanently for 2 years or more, and have a 10% deposit we have lenders available.

This is regardless of the type of visa (except refugees; see below).

It obviously still depends on how well you credit score, and other factors like having suitable income etc.

It’s possible to get a mortgage up to 95% if you have been employed/self-employed continuously for 3 years or more.

In this instance continuously employed could mean working part time whilst studying for example, as long as you have been working for someone without a break of more than a few weeks between any 2 roles.

Or if you have more than 30 months remaining on your visa then again it’s possible to go up to 95% and this is also generally straightforward.

If you have a tier 2 visa then a letter from your employer confirming their intention to renew your work permit is also suitable with less than 30 months remaining.

For joint applications only the applicant who has a sponsored work permit would need the employers letter.

Bear in mind though that the visa is only one element of the application. Meeting the criteria for an applicant on a visa doesn’t mean you meet the rest.

That’s why one of our roles as your advisor is to make sure that you meet all the criteria required before application.

 

Applicants who have lived in the UK for less than 2 years

If you have resided here for less than 6 months, it’s very unlikely that you will have sufficient credit score to get a mortgage (but there can be exceptions, especially if you have UK bank or credit accounts with longer term history).

So in most cases you will need to have been residing here for 12 months, it is technically possible in the first 12 months but will be very case by case dependent.

With less than 2 years UK residency, mortgages are still readily available up to 95% of the purchase price if you have more than 30 months on your visa.

For those on a tier 2 visa with less than 30 months remaining if your employer can confirm that they will look to extend your visa then again 95% is still possible.

Applicants on a tier one visa can apply up to 90% once they have resided in the UK and been employed for more than 6 months regardless of the remaining term on the visa.

If you have 25% or more deposit, then mortgages are available regardless of how long remains on your visa or how long you have actually resided here.

But for anyone with less than 12 month’s residency credit scoring will be a major factor so the shorter the UK residency history the less likely it is possible.

If you don’t have 25% deposit, have been here less than 2 years, and have less than 30 months remaining on your visa, and a visa such as an ancestry or spousal visa then it could be possible to buy a new build property under the help to buy shared equity scheme.

 

Very large deposits

If you have more than 30% deposit available, then describing a conclusive answer would be too complicated as there are far more potential lenders.

So if this applies to you but you don’t meet the criteria above give us a call to discuss it.

 

Self employed

We don’t see a lot of self-employed applicants on visa’s however this does not exclude you from application.

But being self-employed has its own criteria with each lender which is probably far more complicated so really you would need to get in touch with us to discuss this in more detail!

 

Refugees

Refugees are the main exception to the rules above. Most lenders won’t accept applications from refugees until permanent right to reside is granted.

If you have a deposit of 25% or more there may be options available though, once you have 12 month’s residency in the UK.

 

EU Nationals

EU Nationals still currently have full legal right to reside in the UK and so most lenders can accept your application.

However the length of residency is the main factor so if you have been in the UK for less than 3 years you may well still benefit from our assistance.

 

In summary

So then as you can see here, there are plenty of options available to meet most circumstances.

These are all standard products from high street banks. You won’t get a higher rate because of your nationality.

Every case is different which is why we cannot give you a completely definitive answer (it’s also ludicrously complex to detail in a blog post).

So always seek advice from a professional like ourselves.

We also don’t treat foreign nationals as high complexity cases. We won’t charge an advice fee purely because of being on a visa.

Most of our clients receive a fee free service including foreign nationals.

Those who we do charge fees are usually borrowing smaller amounts, or have other more complex issues (like multiple forms of self-employment).

For more information or to discuss your circumstances call 08454594490 or fill in our enquiry form here.

Understanding mortgage lending to the Self Employed

There is a big difference in terms of how mortgage lenders assess the income of self employed applicants to those who are employed and receiving income on a PAYE basis, this short guide explains how income is assessed and some of the pitfalls.

You will be classed as Self Employed if you are a sole trader, in a partnership or if you own more than a set percentage of an Ltd company (typically 25%). PAYE employees who also own a significant share of a different company may be classed as having income from employment and self employment.

If you are classified as self employed the overwhelming majority of mortgage lenders will require a minimum of two years full accounts before you can be considered for a mortgage, there are certain exceptions for example where an applicant buys a share of an Ltd company with existing trading history. This means for many people that if you are considering entering into any of these types of employment then securing a new mortgage deal prior to making the switch to self employment could be a good idea.

When classed as self employed the lender will base their affordability assessment on your net pre tax profit, not your turnover. This is essentially your money taken in minus all allowable deductions and so will therefore usually be the profit figure from your tax returns.

If you are the owner or major shareholder of an Ltd Company you may well pay yourself PAYE income and dividends which is tax efficient and the two added together would be considered your profit. It is important to remember that leaving profit within the business as capital rather than drawing down these funds as dividend income will limit the maximum borrowing potential available to you. It may be worthwhile taking a “tax hit” in the accounting year prior to arranging a mortgage if the previous year’s drawings are low as many lenders will refuse to look deeper into accounts and base assessment on actual profits rather than just your personal PAYE and dividend takings.

Some lenders will base their lending figures on the last years accounts only however if your accounts figures are decreasing or have gone up and down most will take an average over two to three years.

Proof of income for the self employed will normally be either your SA302 or self assessment tax computation, or a copy of your accounts often for the last two to three years. Some lenders will request accounts certificates in these are not available. The sole traders or those submitting their own tax returns it usually pays to keep your SA302’s handy for coming mortgage applications although you can request reprints from HMRC.

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