Home purchase in the United States1 seems a hard way of making overseas
investments. This article essentially aims at highlighting on the
strong relationship between the citizenship and the exercise of the
right to property and also analyzing domestic legal requirements
for foreign persons2
interested in buying real property within the USA.
2. Why is the right to property very
The right to property is guaranteed by leading international
instruments including the European Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Full Text of the Convention is available online here.
Pursuant to Article 1 of Protocol No:1, everybody is
‘entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one
shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest
and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the
general principles of international law’.3 Similarly, Article 17 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the right to own
property. In the aforementioned considerations, the right to
protection of property is an internationally guaranteed right.
3. Why is real estate investment in foreign states
considered as very significant?
There has been an economic downturn and turmoil over the world.
Despite such financial collapse, the unlimited power of famous
currencies increases day by day. Under those circumstances, it is
very normal to see that people are very keen on making appropriate
investments beyond national borders. Real estate investment plays a
significant role in meeting demand of particularly commercial
enterprises. But, the related non-resident investor should find the
right land or entity together with the right country at the right
4. Why are the real estate investment disputes very
Real estate law is directly relevant to the implementation of
various branches of law, including tax law, citizenship law and
administrative law. Cases arising from real estate are, therefore,
regarded as very complex and always take a long time. Every single
dispute requires extensive work based on due diligence for a proper
5. What is the relationship between the term of
citizenship and the right to property?
According to internationally established principles, citizenship
may be acquired at birth or through naturalization subsequent to
birth. The Law on Turkish Citizenship (No:5901) has similar
The Law in question is available online here (in
Real estate law generally involves the permanent possession of,
the control of, the use of ownership for any entity. The exercise
of civil, economic and social rights, including the right to
property basically depends on the enjoyment of citizenship
according to domestic legislations. Moreover, the rise in the
number of foreign investors is seen as a matter of concern by many
countries over the world. National governments may, therefore, put
serious legal conditions upon alien persons or foreign corporations
with a view to protecting domestic products or services and social
or cultural position. However, few states do not ask citizenship
for the possession of a real property. Even more, under real estate
law systems, the acquisition of citizenship depends on some legal
necessities, such as the ownership of a real estate in the country
concerned. The possession of a house is considered as an easy way
of the provision of citizenship by foreigners in those states.
But having said that, the acquisition of real estate does not
give foreigners a direct chance to acquire the USA citizenship.
Moreover, owning a house does not automatically lead to securing a
green card. But, a purchased house might be used as a pathway to
the residence permit or investor visa through an investment within
the border of the USA. It is, therefore, remarkable that the
enjoyment of a home may make the USA permanent residence much
easier in the long term.
6. Is foreign ownership of a real estate property very
hard in the USA?
Domestic legal conditions for a home purchase may essentially
vary from state to state based on citizenship law. That is the case
for the USA. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that buying a house
does not depend on the citizenship certificate or residence permit
in the USA. National legal regime, impose certain legal
requirements on foreign corporations or real persons for any
investment in the USA. The involved requirements may be composed of
tax payment4 and
registration obligation5. Such regulations may be regarded as
“procedures” or to some extent “limitations” ,
rather than “prohibitions” for inbound investments. Thus,
non-USA citizens are granted an opportunity to buy an entity
provided that they meet the necessities in question. Real estate
purchase is easier, contrary to popular belief if the right legal
process is taken according to the relevant legal framework.
In the light of the aforementioned explanations, it should be
remembered that citizenship is not a precondition to home purchase
in the USA; but home purchase may be used as a potential gate to
the USA residence permit. We should emphasize that a citizenship
certificate or residence permit is not required to enjoy a house
located in the USA. Without a green card or USA citizenship
certificate, it is possible to buy a home. Foreign home buyers are
required to only meet some procedures such as carrying out taxation
and other obligations for the possession of a house in the USA.
Hereinafter as “the USA” in this article.
2 The term
of “foreign person”, as used in this article, contains: a
corporation, established or formed pursuant to law within a
jurisdiction other than the United States or any other state; an
individual who is neither an American citizen nor a resident of the
official Website of European Court of Human Rights for this
Article, “Official Texts”,
accessed 31 March 2022.
Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 and the
Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
5 See the
International Investment Survey Act of 1976.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.