Can a Non-U.S Citizen Open a Bank Account in the U.S ?

Can a non-U.S. citizen open a bank account in the U.S. ? Yes ! They can. Bank accounts are required for survival in today’s world, especially in the U.S. There are several major benefits to having a bank account. The advantages affect daily life along with long term financial planning. This article answers how a non U.S. citizen can open a bank account in the U.S. NRIs fall in this category.

Can a Non-U.S Citizen Open a Bank Account in the U.S ?
Can a Non-U.S Citizen Open a Bank Account in the U.S ?

The Advantages of Opening a Bank Account for a Non-U.S. Citizen

Reduced Fees: Cashing a check costs much less with a bank account. Otherwise you may have to use a check – cashing service or prepaid debits cards. These can be more inconvenient and expensive than a conventional checking account. 

Safety: It is safer to deposit money in a bank account than to keep cash on hand. Banks and credit unions even provide deposit insurance for up to $250,000. There is simply much less to worry about if one’s money is in the bank.

Savings: A savings account is another required and advised component of good financial planning.

Credit: Transacting with the bank can allow customers to build a good credit history. This can make them eligible for better rates on cars or homes. 

Direct Deposit: With direct deposit your paycheck will go directly into your bank account.

Requirements for Bank Account for Non-U.S. Citizens

  • Your contact information, such as name, address and phone number
  • At least two forms of government-issued ID, such as a valid driver’s license or passport
  • Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) (If you’re a non-citizen and don’t have a Social Security number, you’ll probably need to have an ITIN.)
  • Utility bill with current address
  • Cash deposit (normally $25 to $100)

Additional Requirements

  • Generally you have to be at least 18 years old and have a U.S. address in order to have a checking or savings account.
  • Even undocumented immigrants, foreign born people without a legal right to be or remain in the U.S., can open a bank account in the U.S. They must provide their ITIN and a U.S. address. 
  • Usually non-U.S. citizens are not permitted to open accounts online. They need to go in person to a branch or credit union in order to open their account.

Certain banks like Santander Bank, however, accept online applications only from U.S. residents or resident aliens who have a Social Security number or ITIN.

Other Possible Identification 

If you don’t have a social security number, you might be able to get an ITIN in order to open an account. The IRS issues 9 digit ITIN numbers, just the way the Social Security Administration issues nine-digit Social Security Numbers. Select non-resident and resident aliens and their spouses and dependants, who are unable to get a  Social Security Number, are eligible for an ITIN. 

How To Apply for an ITIN

Step 1. Fill out a W-7 application form 

Step 2. Submit it to the IRS along with your completed tax return. 

Step 3. Submit original documents that verify your identity and your status as a foreigner.

You don’t need to apply for an ITIN at an IRS location. However, you can file the application in person. The IRS accepts 13 documents for this verification process.

There are financial institutions that won’t accept an ITIN in place of a Social Security number.

Bank of America, for example, has the following requirements.

For a primary ID, Bank of America requires one of the following:

  • Foreign passport with or without a visa.
  • U.S. non-immigrant visa and border crossing card.
  • Mexican, Guatemalan, Dominican or Colombian consular ID.
  • Canadian citizenship certificate card.

For a secondary ID, Bank of America requires one of the following:

  • Foreign driver’s license (or U.S. driver’s license).
  • U.S.-issued work ID card or badge.
  • Debit or major credit card bearing a Visa or Mastercard logo.
  • Retail credit card from a nationally known company.
  • Major retail credit card from a nationally well-known company.
  • U.S. State Department ID.
  • Mexican voter registration card.
  • Some banks or credit unions may accept an alien registration number card from a non U.S. citizen who’s trying to open an account. The 7 to 9 digit alien registration number can be found on various documents, such as a green card, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Banks that Accept other Forms of Identification 

Several large U.S. banks accept other possible forms of IDs from non-U.S. citizens.  The following are some examples:

  • Bank of America
  • Chase
  • TD Bank
  • US Bank 
  • Wells Fargo

We hope that NRIs will find this information useful.

To ask any questions related to the rights of NRIs, PIOs, and OCIs, you can download SBNRI App from the Google Play Store or App Store. You can also use the SBNRI app for investment in stock market/ mutual funds, NRI account opening, tax filing, etc. To ask any questions, click on the button below. Also, visit our blog and YouTube channel for more details. 

Ask Indian Friend Now

What does ITIN stand for ?

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

Is a social security number essential for opening an account ?

No, there are various other forms of ID, such as an ITIN that may work.

Do banks usually charge fees for holding an account ?

Yes they usually have fees. Some student accounts or accounts with large balances may not require or may have less fees.

Do credit unions charge fees ?

Many credit unions offer no monthly service charges.

Do U.S. banks offer good interest rates on accounts?

They offer very low interest rates compared to India but it is a necessity.

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