The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) government program was created in 2012 to protect undocumented children brought to the United States illegally by allowing them to defer their deportation by two years.

But, can DACA recipients buy a house? Are there any laws that help DACE recipients own a home?

In this post, we will look at the DACA program and any programs or assistance that help DACA recipients buy a house.

What is the DACA Program? 

The roughly 700,000 members of the DACA program were raised in the U.S. and identify as American citizens, even though they technically live in the country unlawfully. DACA recipients are often referred to as “DREAMers” as they also benefit from the Development, Relief, and Education for Minors Act which allows them to live and work under a temporary conditional residency. 

Like any young American, DACA recipients aspire towards meaningful goals like buying their first home. Today, there are options for DACA program members to become homeowners, including several available loan options like the FHA loan. 

This article will explain how DACA recipients can secure suitable loans and successfully buy their first home, despite being undocumented. Alright, let's dive into the article and answer the question "can DACA recipients buy a house?"

Is Buying A House A Right For DACA Recipients? 

The DACA program first appeared under the Obama administration to shield undocumented children from deportation and permit them to work in the U.S., receive Social Security numbers, and an official state-issued photo ID. DACA recipients must have a clean criminal record and be under 31 as of June 15, 2012. 

While the DACA program protects recipients from deportation, it is not a pathway toward full American citizenship or obtaining a U.S. green card. It is a temporary conditional residency that allows members to stay in the country as long as they renew their permits on time.

Can DACA Recipients Buy a House? 

While DACA recipients are not eligible to become full citizens, they can buy a house

Under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fair Housing Act,  “discrimination in housing and community development programs and activities because of race, color, national original, familial status, and disability” is considered unlawful. Therefore no one, including DACA recipients, can be denied the ability to buy a house based on their immigration status.  

However, there are certain things DACA recipients need to understand before starting the home-buying process, including the types of available loans and existing restrictions.  

can DACA recipients buy a house : The Process and Steps

The home-buying process for DACA recipients is nearly the same as for any U.S. citizen, with a few critical differences regarding loan options. 

Let’s look at the basic steps a DACA recipient would need to take to buy their home.  

  1. Identify and organize any required documentation and finances. 
  2. Search for loan options with a mortgage broker or individually. 
  3. Secure a loan through prequalification. 
  4. Find the house they want to buy. 
  5. Make an offer on the property. 
  6. Complete an appraisal and home inspection.   
  7. Close on the deal on their brand-new house! 

The primary difference between a full U.S. citizen and a DACA recipient buying a home takes place while applying for a loan. Fortunately, there is a wide range of options when it comes to loans for aspiring DACA homeowners. 

Available Home Loans for DACA Recipients 

Conventional loans have always been the most popular means of acquiring a loan for DACA recipients. Conventional loans are mortgages that a governmental agency does not back. 

FHA Loans for DACA Recipients 

An excellent example of popular conventional loans for DACA recipients is FHA loans. FHA loans are flexible and have low-interest rates, among other benefits. They make owning a home more accessible to DACA program members by offering higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratio exceptions and a minimum 3.5% down payment requirement, as opposed to the recommended 20% for most private mortgages. They are also aimed at people with lower credit scores, which could include many DREAMers. The minimum credit score for an FHA loan is 580. 

Fannie Mae Conforming Loans

A less common mortgage DACA recipients can apply for is the Fannie Mae HomeReady Loan. DACA program members may qualify for this mortgage if they possess an SSN, Tax ID, or valid EAD card to show they are in the U.S. lawfully and any proof of income, including W-2s, bank statements, or pay stubs. 

Requirements for DACA FHA Loans 

To qualify for an FHA loan, the borrower must ensure the following:

  • Proof that the property they are acquiring is their primary residence.
  • A valid Social Security Number (SSN).
  • A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under category C33 to prove they are eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Any previously expired EAD cards to prove the borrower has the means to continue working and maintaining payments on their mortgage.
  • Any valid bank statements to establish consistent income over at least 12 months, preferably 24 months, and prove able to meet the payment schedule.
  • Other income documentation including federal tax returns, W-2 statements, and/or pay stubs. 

How to Secure a DACA Home Loan 

Applying for a mortgage as a DREAMer is straightforward and similar to the process for all U.S. citizens. After finding the right property to purchase and a trustworthy lender, DACA recipients can start the application process. 

Applicants will fill out basic employment and income information, their contact information, and details about the property they hope to acquire. The lender will then verify their documentation and approve or deny the application. 

Helpful Organizations DACA Home Owners

With the right documentation, a reliable lender, and by following the straightforward application process, DACA recipients can acquire the necessary loans to purchase the house of their dreams. 

However, it’s not necessary to do that all on their own. A handful of excellent programs support DREAMers in their home-buying process. 

  • United We Dream: This well-established youth-led organization is dedicated to supporting immigrants and marginalized populations in the U.S.
  • Regents of the University of California: The University of California is a popular school for DACA recipients to attend. The Regents support DREAMers and their families, including legal and financial assistance.
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Famous for their work defending the civil liberties and constitutional rights of people living in the U.S. since 1920, the ACLU is a defender and supporter of the DACA program.

Immigrant Resource Center: This nonprofit provides logistical support to DACA recipients, helping them complete their applications and providing other educational and legal training.

FAQs For Can DACA Recipients Buy a House

Can I get an FHA loan as a DACA recipient?

Yes, DACA recipients are eligible to receive an FHA loan as long as they can show valid proof of income, legal documentation to live and work in the US (like a social security number), and other required documentation.

What home loans are available to DACA recipients?

The most common home loan available to DACA recipients is the FHA loan, which has a low minimum down payment requirement and is suitable for individuals with lower credit scores. The Fanny Mae HomeReady Loan is also available to DACA recipients.

What are the requirements for an FHA loan?

Applicants for an FHA loan must have a valid SSN, an EAD document, a legal photo ID, and proof of consistent income.

Conclusion For Can DACA Recipients Buy a House?

If you are a DACA recipient and living in the United States, there are options to buy a home. There are immigration lawyers and various organizations that specialize in helping DACA recipients buy a house. If you are a DACA recipient and have any questions before buying your first home, make sure to consult with a trained Immigration Attorney. We wish you the best of luck in your dream home search!