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Am I Allowed to Live in the U.S. if I Buy a Home Here?

In the years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, real estate news outlets around the world reported on the trend of “one euro” homes being sold in sleepy towns around Italy to foreign buyers. Although a single euro was the listed price, the reality of property taxes, real estate fees, and renovations brought the costs closer to $10,000. This economic revitalization program was pretty attractive because it included some sort of assistance with regard to relocation and immigration. Although you won’t see such programs in the United States, foreigners are allowed to purchase land and residential structures in the U.S., but certain restrictions apply. One of them is that they cannot expect to simply pack up their things and move into their newly purchased properties.

Immigration Status for Prospective Homebuyers

Foreign ownership of American real estate is determined by immigration status and not by country of origin. Foreign-born buyers who hold green cards are permanent residents, and they’re no different than those who were born in the U.S. They can even qualify for special financing programs such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. Non-resident aliens do face some restrictions with regard to ownership and investment, as stated in laws such as the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act and the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act. Moreover, certain jurisdictions such as Oklahoma prohibit non-resident aliens from acquiring land.

Living in Your U.S. Home during Your Visa Period

Let’s say a woman born in Canada purchases a home in Idaho. By virtue of holding a Canadian passport, she could live in her American home for up to six months in a single year. For some foreigners, ownership of U.S. real estate could increase their admissibility, but this would be handled by immigration adjudicators on a case-by-case basis. In other words, this shouldn’t be considered an automatic boost to admissibility potential. You could be an H-1B employee, a student with an F visa, an investor with an E-2 visa, or even a musician recording with a P-3 visa. All these situations would allow you to stay in your American home as an owner or property investor.

The EB-5 Visa Program

You may have heard about Caribbean nations where you can purchase a stately beachfront mansion and fork over some additional cash to gain citizenship. The U.S. has a slightly similar program, and it can be pursued from an angle that includes real estate investments. The EB-5 visa program is for serious investors who are ready to put at least $500,000 to work in an American business venture, but it needs to go beyond acquiring a property for investment purposes. It needs to generate jobs in parts of the country where they’re needed. When it comes to the advantages of the EB-5 visa, San Diego investors should know that it explicitly grants green cards to applicants and their immediate family members, which means you could stay in your American home for as long as you continue to be a resident.

Get in touch with the San Diego immigration lawyers at KS Visa Law if you’d like more information on issues dealing with immigration, including home ownership and EB-5 visas. In San Diego, KS Visa Law is the firm to turn to when you need advice about any element of immigration law. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

September 2021
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