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Can You Be a Real Estate Agent if You Are Not a US Citizen

Dreaming of becoming a real estate agent but worried your immigration status might be a deal-breaker? A question from aspiring immigrant realtors is whether there is room for them in the US industry.

Can you be a real estate agent if you are not a US citizen? Yes, you can. There are several routes non-citizens can take to become licensed in the United States.

The top option is to obtain a legal permanent resident permit. With the permit in hand, you can easily apply for licensure. However, in addition to the green card, non-citizens can rely on Senate Bill 695.

What is it, and how can you use it to your advantage?

Today, I’ll unpack the legal loopholes, government policies, and economic incentives that could pave your way to a fruitful career as a non-U.S. citizen real estate agent. You’ll learn tried-and-true tactics for securing that coveted green card or embracing newfound opportunities in immigrant-friendly states. So brace yourself for an eye-opening ride through the complexities of living the American dream.

Legal Permanent Resident Status

Legal permanent resident status, commonly called a “green card,” is a crucial requirement for anyone who wishes to work in the United States but is not a citizen. This status grants individuals the right to live and work permanently in the country and provides numerous benefits, such as the opportunity to seek employment without restrictions.

Regardless of the type of real estate license you desire, obtaining a green card is a significant advantage in your career pursuit. It allows you to legally engage in the profession without the limitations imposed on temporary or immigrant workers.

However, securing a green card can be challenging, particularly for aspiring real estate agents, as their occupation is not considered a priority for employment-based immigration.

Unlike certain professions deemed essential or in high demand, the real estate industry does not typically qualify for expedited or preferential treatment in the green card application process. Nor are real estate agents employees; they work for themselves as independent contractors.

Read my last article Do Real Estate Agents Work for Themselves to better understand these employment dynamics.

This reality underscores the difficulties that aspiring agents may face when attempting to secure permanent resident status based solely on their intended profession. Consequently, they may need to explore alternative avenues or meet specific criteria to increase their chances of obtaining a green card successfully.

For example, if your spouse is a US citizen or you are a child of a legal resident, you may have higher chances of securing your residency permit and the freedom to pursue a real estate career in the US.

The Senate Bill 695

Given the challenges faced by aspiring immigrant real estate agents in securing permanent resident status, Senate Bill 695 presents a significant opportunity, particularly in the state of California. This legislation aims to remove barriers for immigrants seeking professional licenses.

Senate Bill 695 specifically prohibits licensing agencies, including the California Department of Real Estate, from denying professional licenses solely based on an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. 

This groundbreaking measure ensures that qualified immigrants can obtain licenses and pursue careers in various professions, including the real estate industry, regardless of their legal status.

Aspiring immigrant real estate agents in California must be at least 18 and possess a social security number or an individual tax identification number to be eligible for a real estate license.

Job Creation Promise

The third option non-citizens have to work in the United States is demonstrating a commitment to investing in the nation’s economy. This route, known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, presents a viable option for those willing to establish a business venture and create jobs within the country.

Immigrant agents who can provide practical proof of their intent to start a real estate brokerage firm may be eligible for this program. These individuals can increase their chances of securing permanent resident status through the EB-5 program by showcasing their entrepreneurial spirit and readiness to contribute to the local economy.

Pursuing Your American Dream

Securing the necessary permits and licenses to work as a non-citizen real estate agent in the US can be challenging. However, through several viable pathways, you can realize your real estate American dream.

Next Steps:

If you’re an aspiring immigrant real estate agent, here are some actionable steps you can take:

1. Explore: What is your eligibility for a green card based on your family situation or employment background?

2. Research: Find the specific requirements and application process for obtaining a license in your state, particularly if they have laws similar to California’s Senate Bill 695.

3. Gather: Collect the necessary documentation and prepare a business plan if you intend to pursue the EB-5 Investor Program route.

4. Consult: Communicate with an immigration attorney or specialist to understand your options and increase your chances of success.

Navigating work in the US real estate industry as a non-U.S. citizen can be daunting, but the potential rewards are significant.

Have you faced challenges or found success in this pursuit? Share your experiences, insights, or questions in the comments below.

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