First Time Buyer Visa

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First Time Buyer Visa
First Time Buyer Visa

First Time Buyer Visa

Lee Gathercole and Neezam Romjon explain how the mortgage process works if you are a First Time Buyer with a visa.

Approved by The Openwork Partnership on 19/04/2024.

Can I buy a house on a visa in the UK as a First Time Buyer? How long do I have to live in the UK to get a mortgage?

Yes, you can get a house on a visa in the UK as a First Time Buyer. This is an area of the market we know really well.

Generally it depends on your circumstances. It’s not necessarily straightforward – getting a mortgage is complex in any situation, even with permanent rights or if you were born in the UK.

Once we start adding in complexities such as not being in the UK very long and being on a visa, there are knock-on effects. Ultimately lenders have their own policies. They all differ in terms of how long you have to live in the UK before you can get a mortgage.

We’ve got lenders who, if you meet their other criteria, will consider lending to you the day you set foot in the UK. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Usually, after around one year to two years a few more lenders will open up for you.

We would start with a chat. Once we understand a bit more about your circumstances we can answer that question more accurately for you, based on your deposit, how much you’re earning and everything else.

What types of visas are acceptable for a First Time Buyer mortgage?

There are quite a few. Tier one is for entrepreneurs and tier two and is otherwise known as a skilled worker visa. You’re here for a particular skill – you could be a doctor or a nurse or a carer. Tier two is more common.

A spousal visa is also acceptable, where you’re married to a UK citizen. You could be on an ancestry visa, if you’ve got grandparents who are from the UK. Student visas may be a bit more of a challenge with mortgages.

But if you’ve had enough time here in the UK and if perhaps you’ve been promised a job once you graduate, that is a possibility. There’s also the BNO visa – British National Overseas – which is typically known for people coming from Hong Kong. These are acceptable as well.

These all have different qualifying criteria, but most visas are accepted for a mortgage.

Are there any visas that aren’t acceptable?

I know from experience that one that’s not acceptable is a tier 5 visa. This is generally for certain types of temporary overseas workers in the UK on a short term basis. They are often working for charities or religious organisations. The challenge is that you don’t have permission to reside in the UK long term – it’s a temporary visa.

But in this situation, why would you be looking to buy a property? And why would a bank lend you money for the long term when you’re not going to be in the UK for long? So that is one that most lenders won’t touch.

What are the lending criteria as a First Time Buyer with a visa?

The good news is that quite a few high street banks accept mortgage applications from people on a visa.  High street banks tend to offer relatively competitive mortgage rates.

As we speak today in March 2024 you can buy with as little as a 5% deposit and there’s not necessarily any requirement around minimum time in the UK. But the longer you have been in the UK, the easier it is for you.

For example, some lenders require 12 months or two years, so you will have more options the longer you have lived in the UK.

Lending criteria is very circumstantial around visas – it varies a lot. Generally things to consider are your credit history, time in the UK, income and the amount of deposit. They’re the big factors. But speaking to someone who specialises in visa mortgages will really help you understand what options are available to you.

Can I get a mortgage if I have bad credit as a First Time Buyer with a visa?

It depends on the circumstances and the details. We use the umbrella term of bad credit, but so many things that can fall under that category.

It could be one missed payment in the last six years – or it could be someone with a bankruptcy or who has defaulted on every single account they’ve ever had credit for. It all depends on how severe that bad credit is and how recent it is.

A lot of lenders don’t like any recent bad credit – any missed payments, arrears, defaults, CCJs in the last six months particularly. But some issues in the last two years may also affect you getting a mortgage with a lot of high street banks.

The circumstances that led to that bad credit is also important. Was it a one-off life event like a separation or the loss of a job? Those present different risks to the lender.

As soon as you add bad credit to the complexity of being on a visa and a First Time Buyer, the options become quite limited. You can try a bank or building society yourself, but you would save a lot of time, money and stress by talking to a broker who knows that area of the market.

We know the visa area and bad credit – it’s something that we have helped a lot of people with. They may have been turned down by other brokers or banks and we’ve used our experience and contacts to get them offered and approved for a mortgage.

How does remortgaging work with a visa?

The qualifying criteria are the same as for a First Time Buyer – again, lenders look at time in the UK plus the amount of equity, rather than deposit. The equity is your property value minus the mortgage. Credit history is another factor.

You might be looked at slightly more favourably because you already own a home in the UK and have been paying a mortgage here. It’s likely you have built up some form of credit history.

Again, it helps to talk to a mortgage advisor or broker that specialises in visa mortgage applications, as the options can still be limited. It also depends on how long’s left on your visa.

Can I get a Buy to Let mortgage on a visa as a First Time Buyer?

If you’re a First Time Buyer on a visa, looking to get a Buy to Let mortgage, that’s going to be quite a challenge. Even if you’re a British national with permanent rights in the UK, being a First Time Buyer makes it difficult to get this kind of mortgage.

Only a handful of lenders would consider lending to you. If you’re on a visa that makes it even more limited. It’s not impossible, but again it depends on how long you’ve been in the UK, what your credit score looks like, what you’re earning and what deposit you’re looking to put down. Also, how long your visa has left on it.

Don’t do it on your own. Speak with a broker that knows the market. We can save you a lot of time just by telling you if it’s possible or not with the lenders we have access to.

How do I apply for a mortgage with a visa as a First Time Buyer?

You could give this a go yourself, and try and find a bank that’s suited to your scenario, but my recommendation would be to find someone who specialises in visa mortgages. For First Time Buyers it can be a real minefield.

There’s so many different qualifying criteria in terms of deposit, credit history, time in the UK, visa status, visa type and how long is left on your visa. Someone qualified and experienced in this can point you in the right direction quite quickly.

Preparation is key. We will help you understand the criteria and explore your credit history. If you qualify, we can get you a mortgage, and if you don’t, we’ll explain how soon you can buy a house in the UK.

A mortgage advisor like us deals with these lenders every day. Lending policies and criteria change all the time and we have many clients who are non-UK nationals who don’t have permanent rights in the UK.

We actively ask lenders about their policies and when they might change or become easier. We’ve built up quite a reputation amongst the banks as specialists in this area.

We’ve had many people come to us that have been turned away by banks and building societies. They feel like they’re just hitting brick walls, but we’ve been able to help them. We’ll always be transparent with you. We’re experts, so  lean on us and you will save yourself a lot of time.


Some Buy to Let mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Approved by The Openwork Partnership on 19/04/2024. 

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