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How to open a bank account in the United States: A guide for new immigrants

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If you recently started a new life in the country, you might be wondering how to take the first essential steps. How to open a bank account is a common question for new immigrants that want to fully integrate as citizens and taxpayers.

Even if you are well versed in finances and how to open a bank account hardly seems like something that might give you pause, as a new immigrant things aren’t usually as straightforward as they might seem. The financial system in the US can be quite complicated at times, and learning both tax rules and other requirements might be a little challenging at first.

However, this is one of the issues that you will want to tackle early, since it is a crucial step needed for work and even for immigration purposes. In this essential guide for new immigrants, we will outline how to open a bank account and the main benefits of starting your financial life in the country as soon as possible.

The perks of opening a bank account as soon as you can

A bank account in your name isn’t only a convenient way to receive payments and safeguard income after starting a job in the country, but it is also a way of accessing other benefits like a credit card, automatic withdrawals for certain services or expenses, and dozens of other options like investing, loans and more. It goes without saying that some jobs will even require you to have one in order to invoice your payments.

How to open a bank account as a non-citizen or recently arrived immigrant

While most banks in the country will generally allow non-citizens to open their bank accounts, and will of course provide you their services if you already have permanent residency, in some cases something called a ‘presence test’ may be required. This means that you will have to prove your residency in the United States for at least 31 days in the current year, and 183 days in total during the last 2 years.

You will also be required to present your ITIN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security Number (SSN) if you have one. If you don’t know how to obtain an ITIN number, it is a quite straightforward process that can be done as a non-citizen with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to begin paying taxes.

What documents do I need in order to open a bank account in the United States?

If you are eligible to open a bank account in the country, you will need to present certain documents. While each bank will likely have slightly different requirements, in general they request some of the following information:

  • Social Security Number or ITIN
  • A valid address in the US
  • A utility bill in your name with a local address
  • Another form of identification like a passport, visa, or a driver’s license.

Also, remember that depending on the bank you might be asked to make a cash deposit of between $25 and $100 to justify the opening of the account.

How can I apply for an ITIN number if I don’t have one?

This is an essential step to begin financial and tax life in the country. To obtain a special identification from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) you must first request and complete a W-7 Form. Also, you will need to present your immigration status documents and some proof of identity. This process can be done entirely online or personally at an IRS center.

We hope that this brief guide for new immigrants will help you begin a new life in the country and start building up toward your dreams.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-0800!
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