Who Qualifies For A VA Loan

Updated: March 21, 2023
In this Article

    Who qualifies for a VA mortgage? The answer is surprising to some who might assume that only veterans can apply, but there are qualifying circumstances for spouses, Guard/Reserve members, active duty military and more.

    Who Qualifies For A VA Loan To understand what it takes to qualify for a VA mortgage, it helps to understand some basics about the VA home loan benefit. This is a military benefit offered to those who have served a minimum amount of time on active duty. Others qualify in other ways as we’ll explore later.


    VA Loan Requirements For Veterans And Active Duty Military

    That minimum service requirement varies depending on when you joined the military but for most people who joined on or after Aug. 2nd, 1990:

    MORE: Veterans Can Buy a Home with $0 Down

    • 24 continuous months of military service OR
    • The full period (90 days or more) the applicant was called or ordered to active duty OR
    • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability OR
    • At least 90 days if you were discharged for a hardship
    • At least 90 days if you were discharged due to a reduction in force
    • At least 90 days if you were discharged at the convenience of the government

    VA Loan Eligibility Requirements For National Guard And Reserve Members

    There are eligibility rules for Guard and Reserve members. They include:

    Members of the National Guard or Reserve who joined on or after Aug. 2nd, 1990 are eligible for a VA home loan after 90 days of active-duty service.

    Guard and Reserve members are also eligible after serving six “creditable years” in the Selected Reserve or National Guard. One of the below must also apply:

    • The applicant has an honorable discharge OR
    • Was placed on the retired list OR
    • Was transferred to the Standby Reserve OR
    • Was transferred to an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve with honorable service OR
    • Continues to serve in the Selected Reserve

    Others who may also qualify for the VA home loan benefit includes those who are cadets at the United States Military, Coast Guard or Air Force. Midshipmen at the Naval Academy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) may also qualify for the VA home loan benefit.

    VA Loan Eligibility For Spouses

    Military spouses who are civilians may apply for a VA mortgage with the military spouse. In such cases the loan is approved using the military borrower’s VA loan entitlement which means the civilian spouse is not allowed to apply for a VA mortgage on their own.

    The loan is NOT treated as a joint VA loan between the military member and non-military borrowers (the VA only guarantees the military portion of the loan in those cases).

    Surviving spouses of those who have died as a result of military service may be eligible to apply for VA loans, but they must contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for specific application procedures. In general, one of the following must apply:

    • The service member is missing in action OR
    • Is a prisoner of war OR
    • Died while in service or from a service-connected disability (spouse did not remarry) OR
    • Died while in service or from a service-connected disability (spouse didn’t remarry before age 57 or before Dec. 16, 2003) OR
    • The service member was totally disabled but their disability may not have been the cause of death

    VA Loan Eligibility For Children Of Veterans

    The dependent children of veterans are not eligible to apply for a VA mortgage.

    VA Loan Eligibility For Non-Military Applicants

    Some non-military members and those in certain kinds of military training may qualify to apply for a VA mortgage. They include those who:

    • Served, as an American citizen, in the armed forces of an allied country during WW2 OR
    • Served as a Public Health Service officer
    • Are Cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy
    • Are Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy
    • Work as an Officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
    • Served as a merchant seaman during World War Two

    A Different Kind Of VA Loan

    There is an option available to all the above AND those who do not otherwise qualify for a VA mortgage loan. This is called VA Vendee Financing, also know as a VA Vendee Loan.

    This program offers homes purchased with VA mortgages that went into default and foreclosure. These properties are know as VA Real Estate Owned properties and the VA Vendee Loan program allows any qualified borrower (military-affiliated or not) to purchase such homes with no money down.

    The VA official site states Vendee Financing is offered to:

    • Veterans
    • Non-veterans
    • Owner-occupiers
    • Investors

    Qualified borrowers can get these loans not only with zero down payment but also the option to include closing costs and funding fees into the loan. These are offered as 15-year and 30-year mortgages with no appraisal requirement.

    About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News

    Written by Veteran.com Team