Let’s start from the top. For the uninitiated, most U.S. banks require you to be a U.S citizen in order to open an account. This implies that ideally, you’ll need a U.S. social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number and a U.S. address proof to do so. If you are a student from India completing your higher studies in the United States, having a U.S. bank account is a must in order to sustain yourself in the new country. You can open a U.S. bank account from India, but it is a tedious process, especially in the United States. Here, we are going to explore everything you need to know about opening a U.S. bank account.
Why is opening a U.S. bank account essential?
It's only natural to have questions like, how can international students open an account in the US? How can you transfer money to a U.S. bank account? Is it possible to set up a U.S. bank account for a non-resident? Let’s resolve all your doubts and questions.
Whatever your reasons are for visiting the United States, one of the first things you will need is a bank account to receive money from home. A U.S. bank account is a must.
This quick guide will explain the fundamental requirements for opening a bank account in the U.S. This includes documents, how to choose the right bank, and crucially, how much a U.S. bank account may cost you.
Can we open a U.S. bank account online?
Unfortunately, almost all banks in the USA require at least one visit in person for opening a bank account. In other words, although you may be able to initiate the process of opening a bank account online, you will still need to visit a local branch.
The reason for this is to confirm your identity, but if you are a non-resident, then you may also discuss the banking options available to you without an SSN. This method is most viable; a proficient bank representative can talk you through the options.
The second method you can opt for is opening an international account with your current bank with branches in the United States. It can make it easier to open an account, especially if you need to do it online. To find out whether you fit the qualifications for an international account, contact your bank.
What are the required documents for opening a bank account in the USA?
The documents you are required to provide to support the application may differ from bank to bank. It depends on the bank and the U.S. states. But typically, it is a good idea to ensure you have the following documents handy:
- Your full U.S. address, contact information, and other personal details.
- Driver's license or passport
- Immigration documents
- An opening deposit payment
Another common hindrance for non-citizens is the social security number (SSN). However, this is not a prerequisite for all banks; some banks accept applications from foreigners who do not and are not eligible for an SSN.
Others may accept something known as ITIN in places of an SSN. The ITIN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is used for helping non-citizens or individuals not eligible for an SSN to comply with U.S. tax laws. You can apply for an ITIN if you are a non-citizen and non-resident of the United States when you will be filing a U.S. tax return or are married to a U.S. citizen, along with several other eligibility criteria.
Can you open a U.S. bank account from India?
Step 1: Documentation
As an immigrant, you are a non-resident alien, which simply translates to the fact that you are not a U.S. citizen. A specific document set is needed for opening a U.S. bank account for non-resident or for acquiring a U.S. credit card.
Step 2: Select the bank.
Various banks exist, including Indian banks in the U.S.; each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Select a bank that offers services best suited to your requirements. Look for a bank that offers nominal monthly charges, has ATMs on the university campus, and is located near your residence.
Step 3: Choose your account type.
You can have two main bank account types in the U.S. – A savings or checking account.
- Checking Account
The bank issues you a chequebook and a debit card post which you can withdraw and deposit money whenever you want. It is one of the primary bank account types.
- Savings account
If you want to save money for emergencies or annual payments, you may find a savings account helpful. A saving bank account accumulates yearly interest, which gets added to the principal every quarter or year; interest rates on saving accounts offered by U.S. banks differ from those offered by Indian banks.
Step 4: Visit the bank.
You can apply for a U.S. bank account from India online; but, being a non-US citizen, it is unavoidable to face some challenges here. Some banks may ask for the SSN, which you don't have because you are a non-resident. However, you can apply for a U.S. bank account from the comfort of your home even while you are in the USA.
Step 5: Complete the application form.
You will be provided with an application form to complete. Fill the form with accurate and complete information. After submitting the application form and the required documents, the bank staff will scrutinize the details and documents. After some days, once your application has been approved, the bank will contact you, and the U.S. bank account for you will be active.
If you want to open a U.S. Bank Account from India, you can apply for the same with Zolve. With a completely online process and minimal documentation, you can set up your U.S. account in as little as 5 minutes. You don’t need an SSN, no minimum balance, and no monthly fees, and all this can be done online, from the comfort of your home. You can also apply for a credit card to make your move to the U.S. even easier. Learn more here.