The NHS is made up of a large number of doctors and medical staff from outside the UK. They provide an invaluable service and hold reputable positions. However, some occupations within the NHS can pose challenges when securing a mortgage, especially for those with short contracts, trainee doctors, or newly qualified professionals. These challenges can be further complicated if you are a non-British citizen. In this guide, we explain some of the challenges non-UK nationals may face when getting a mortgage.

At Strive, we secure mortgages for surgeons, consultants, and other medical professionals. We work with NHS trusts across the country to provide mortgages for NHS staff.

 Types of Visas for Non-UK Nationals

There are several types of visas for non-UK nationals, including those that cover medical professionals working in the NHS:

  • Tier 2 (General) Visa: This visa is for skilled workers and covers many medical professionals, including doctors and nurses.
  • Spousal Visa: For individuals married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen or a person with settled status in the UK.
  • Pre-Settled Status: Granted to EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens who started living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and do not yet have five years’ continuous residence.
  • Settled Status: For those who have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period, providing the right to stay indefinitely.
  • Permanent Residence: Also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), this status allows individuals to live and work in the UK permanently.

Each visa type has different implications for mortgage eligibility and criteria, and it’s important to understand how your visa status affects your ability to secure a mortgage.

Mortgage eligibility for non-UK nationals depends on several factors:

  • Length of Time in the UK: Some lenders have no minimum residency requirements, while others may require 3-5 years of residency.
  • Deposit Amount: While it’s possible to secure a mortgage with as little as 5% deposit, some lenders may require a larger deposit, potentially up to 25%, due to residency status.
  • Buying with a British Citizen: If you are buying with a British citizen, you may have more mortgage options available.
  • Income: Some lenders are more lenient with higher income levels, improving your chances of approval.
  • Credit Score: A good credit score is important. If you haven’t been in the UK long and haven’t had time to build a strong credit history, it can affect your eligibility.
  • Length of Time on Visa: Some lenders may require a minimum remaining visa period, typically 6-12 months, to consider your application.
  • Visa Type: Certain visas are more favorable than others. For example, Tier 2 visas and settled status are generally more acceptable to lenders, while student visas can be more challenging.

At Strive, we work to find the best mortgage solutions for non-UK nationals, helping you navigate these factors to secure the best possible terms.

What Credit Score is Needed to get a mortgage? 

There is no set credit score requirement, as scores are not independently decided and vary among credit agencies. Eligibility also depends on the deposit amount, with lenders showing more leniency with larger deposits. Ideally, you should have no missed payments or defaults in the last 12 months, but there are still options available for most applicants.

How Much Can I Borrow?

Typically, you can borrow 4.5 to 5 times your income, but this can vary depending on the lender and your circumstances. Those with higher earnings may be able to borrow up to 5.5 times their income. Note that some lenders may not consider all variable pay, such as overtime, shift allowance, and NHS locum pay. They might take an average of 3-6 months and only consider 50% of this income, while others may take all of it into account. Choosing the right lender can significantly impact your affordability and borrowing capacity.

How long do I need to have lived in the Uk to get a mortgage?

The required length of time you’ve lived in the UK to get a mortgage depends on several factors, including your visa status and whether you are buying with a UK citizen. Some lenders have no minimum residency requirement, but you will need time to build a credit score. Other lenders may require a minimum of 2-5 years of residency. Generally, you will have more options if you have lived in the UK longer or if you can provide a larger deposit.

Buying Jointly with a UK National 

If you are a foreign national buying a property jointly with a British citizen, you may have more options and face fewer restrictions. For example, lenders like NatWest and Accord will treat you the same as a UK citizen if you are buying with one. However, some lenders may still base the entire residency criteria on the foreign national. 

As a foreign national, you might be able to secure a mortgage with as little as a 5% deposit or even less if buying with a UK citizen, depending on your circumstances. This joint buying option can significantly enhance your chances of getting a favourable mortgage deal.

How Long Do I Need to Be Employed to get a mortgage?

The required length of employment to get a mortgage depends on the lender and your contract type. Some lenders have no minimum employment duration requirement, while others may require 3-6 months of employment. Having previous employment in a similar line of work can be beneficial.

  • Permanent Contracts: Generally have fewer requirements.
  • Fixed-Term or Locum Workers: May face more stringent requirements, such as longer employment history or additional documentation. 

Each lender’s criteria can vary, so it is essential to choose a lender that aligns with your employment situation.

What Deposit is Needed for a Foreign National Mortgage?

The deposit required for a foreign national mortgage can vary based on several factors. While a minimum deposit of 5% is possible, it largely depends on your ability to afford the remainder of the mortgage in addition to the deposit. 

Your residency status plays a significant role; some lenders may require a larger deposit, potentially up to 25%. Additionally, the type of property you are purchasing, and your credit score can also impact the required deposit. Ensuring you meet these criteria can improve your chances of securing a favourable mortgage.

 Challenges of NHS Staff Getting a Mortgage

NHS staff face several unique challenges when trying to secure a mortgage, primarily due to the complexities of their earnings and contract types.

  • Different Contract Types: NHS staff may have permanent, fixed-term, trainee, or locum contracts, each of which can affect mortgage eligibility differently.
  • Trainee Positions: Trainee doctors often have short-term contracts, which can make it harder to demonstrate income stability to lenders.
  • Locum Work: Locum doctors and nurses often have variable income and may need to show a longer track record of earnings to satisfy lender requirements.
  • Overtime/Bank Work/Banding: Income from overtime, bank work, and banding can be inconsistent. Some lenders may not consider this income fully, or they might average it over several months and only count a percentage of it.

Understanding these challenges and working with a lender or broker familiar with the NHS pay structure can help improve your chances of securing a mortgage.

Who are the Best Mortgage Lenders for Foreign Nationals

The best lenders for foreign nationals depend on the specific scenario. Some popular lenders include Halifax, Barclays, and Skipton. If you are buying with a UK national, lenders like NatWest and Accord may treat you the same as a UK citizen, offering more favourable terms.

How to Give Yourself the Best Chance of Success on a Foreign National Mortgage

To improve your chances of securing a foreign national mortgage, consider the following:

– The longer you have been in the UK, the more mortgage options you will have.

– A larger deposit can make you a more attractive candidate to lenders.

– Maintain a good credit score by managing your finances responsibly.

– Ensure you have a significant amount of time remaining on your visa, as some lenders require at least 6-12 months.

– Applying jointly with a UK national can increase your chances of approval and access to better terms.

– If you work bank shifts or as a locum, having a history of earnings can be beneficial. Some lenders require a 12-month history, while others may consider a shorter period. 

By focusing on these factors, you can enhance your eligibility and improve your chances of securing a favourable mortgage as a foreign national.

Process of Applying for a Mortgage as a Foreign National

  1. Book an Appointment: Schedule a meeting with a mortgage broker who specialises in foreign national mortgages.
  • Gather Documents: Collect all necessary documents, including proof of identity, proof of address, proof of income, bank statements, and visa details.
  • Understanding Options with Broker: Discuss your financial situation and mortgage options with your broker to find the best deals available.
  • Secure an Agreement in Principle (AIP)Obtain an AIP from your chosen lender to show sellers and estate agents that you are a serious buyer.
  • Property Search: Begin searching for a property within your budget and preferences.
  • Offer Accepted: Once you find a property and have your offer accepted, proceed with the next steps.
  • Apply for Full Mortgage Application: Submit a full mortgage application to your lender, providing all required documents and information.
  1. Instruct Solicitor: Hire a solicitor to handle the legal aspects of the property purchase, including contracts and property searches.

By following these steps, you can navigate the mortgage application process as a foreign national smoothly and effectively.

How can Strive help? 

At Strive, we secure mortgages for surgeons, consultants, and other medical professionals. We work with NHS trusts across the country to provide tailored mortgage solutions for NHS staff. 

We understand the unique challenges you face, such as variable income, short-term contracts, and residency issues. Our expertise and strong relationships with lenders ensure we are best placed to give you the highest chance of success with your mortgage application. Whether you are a foreign national or a UK citizen, we are dedicated to finding the best mortgage options for your specific needs.

Contact us todayand we’ll work hard on your behalf to find you a competitive mortgage.

For more information on mortgages for contractors, please contact a member of the Strive team, by emailing [email protected] or call us on 01273 002697.