Posted by William Charles on January 13, 2019
Bank Account Bonuses

Published on January 13th, 2019 | by William Charles

137

Bank Accounts: Citizenship Requirements

Awhile ago some readers began requesting us adding a section to our bank account bonus posts stating whether being a U.S. citizen was required for account opening or not. I said I was happy to start creating a resource page, if people would tell me what accounts did/didn’t have this requirement. This is that resource page, please contribute your own data points to make this page more useful. If you like this post you might also be interested in our post on applying for credit cards with an ITIN. We also have a post on banks/credit unions that will allow you to apply for a bank account without a SSN.

If possible try to break it down into the follow:

  1. Citizen
  2. Green card Holder (PR, LPR)
  3. Resident Alien with SSN (excluding GC)
  4. Resident Alien without SSN
  5. Non-resident Alien (already covered by this post)

It’s also useful to note if you opened in branch or online.

Alliant

  • Citizenship not required: 1 (in branch)

Ally Bank

  • U.S. Citizenship Required: 1,
  • Doesn’t require citizenship: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
  • Opened as permanent resident: 1,

Bank of America

  • Citizenship not required: 1 (in branch)

BB&T

  • Citizenship not required: 1 (must apply in branch), 2 (worked online)

Capital One

  • Must be a U.S. person for tax purposes: 1,

Chase

  • Doesn’t require citizenship: 1, 2, 3, 4 (in branch)

CIBC

  • Doesn’t require citizenship, but additional background check will be done: 1,

CIT Bank

  • Must be U.S. Citizen or greencard holder: 1,

Citi bank

  • Must be U.S. Person to apply online: 1,
  • In branch available to everybody: 1,

Citizens Bank

  • Must be U.S. Citizen: 1,
  • Must be U.S. person: 1,

Discover

  • Opened as permanent resident: 1,

Huntington Bank

  • Must be U.S. Citizen: 1,
  • In branch U.S. Citizen not required: 1,

Iberiabank

  • Must be U.S. Citizen: 1,

PNC

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen to open online, can open in branch without.

Salem Five

  • Must be U.S. Citizen or permanent resident alien when opening online: 1,

Simple Bank

  • Must be U.S. Citizen: 1,

S&T Bank

  • Rejected with green card only: 1,

Swell Investing

  • Must be U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident: 1, 2 (not required)

U.S. Bank

  • Citizenship not required: 1 (in branch)

Wells Fargo

  • Citizenship not required: 1,
  • Must be U.S. person: 1,
  • Opened as permanent resident: 1,

Valley National Bank

  • US Citizen or US Permanent Resident only: 1,



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Bigelow
Bigelow

Ally bank doesn’t require citizenship.

CJ
CJ

seconded. Opened Ally checking without citizenship.

Santander
Santander

Yeah, know plenty of people who were able to open an account while on temporary visas.

The DJ

Another DP confirming citizenship is not required for Ally.

tim
tim

Correct, but it does require applicants be a Green Card holder as a minimum. Applicants on a temporary visa would not qualify even if they might have a SSN – other major banks do not have this restriction.
Ally’s application process actually states that a US resident alien (which includes people on a temporary visa) can qualify, but they will fail you after you have gone through the application process and submitted the application. Their reps are also not terribly knowledgeable about this, insisting on the green card requirement.

Geb
Geb

Even this isn’t always the case. I have CDs with them, and I’m on a temporary Visa

Stephen Pepper

Ditto this data point – I only have permanent residency rather than citizenship.

Radster
Radster

I ditto the earlier dittos. Greencard holders are fine.

Dt
Dt

The terms on the website state citizenship or permanent residency is required. However, I know that resident aliens have been able to get accounts.

This post should be updated to say that citizenship or permanent residency is required for Ally, but that resident aliens have been able to open up accounts in the past.

Similarly, I looked at the requirements for Citizen’s Bank on their site. They state that citizenship or permanent residency is required, so that should also be updated.

Shawn
Shawn

True, but one issue with Ally Bank is that they ask you to sign their own version of the W-9 form, which has a statement that is problematic for people with foreign accounts: “I am exempt from Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act reporting”. This is false for anyone that files the FBAR or 8938 forms.

For more details see: https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/3cyxe5/ally_bank_signature_card_asks_me_to_certify_that/

Anke H
Anke H

Interesting, I did not notice but fortunately I’m below the threshold for FBAR. On the quoted thread the conclusion was that you can still sign the form after crossing out the line about Foreign Account Tax exemption. I didn’t see data points on what happened afterwards though.

Hodl
Hodl

I am a working visa holder and had no issues to open my account last October for 1% cashback for the new savings account.

Anke H
Anke H

I also had no problem as opening an Ally account as permanent resident.

Chutya
Chutya

Came here to say that I am on a temporary visa and opened an Ally account.

GT
GT

No citizenship. Opened an Ally savings account with no problem.

Kane
Kane

When I applied ally bank several years ago for saving, it didn’t require citizenship (I was under student visa at that time). But I saw some DP from other forums recently, saying that citizenship/green card is required, if you are new to Ally. I will say working visa should be fine as well. YMMV.

Snuupy
Snuupy

DP here, opened Ally bank with state ID + SSN, no citizenship, permanent residency, nor residency.

R2G2
R2G2

Will be good to add Banks which open accounts for non citizens only in branch e.g. regions, SunTrust, PNC

Larry
Larry

Ally bank does not require citizenship. My SO is on an F1 visa and she was auto approved for a checking and savings account with Ally.

Matthew F
Matthew F

Yes, but did she provide a SSN/ITIN?

Snuupy
Snuupy

I provided SSN + state ID.

Abey

I helped a friend who moved from England open a Chase checking account. He needed a utility bill for proof of USA residence and his British passport.

Kimberly
Kimberly

I can second that Chase does not require citizenship. My partner is a German national on an F1 visa and was able to open a Chase checking account in branch, and he got the bank bonus as well.

Chris
Chris

PNC Bank must be U.S. Citizen or greencard holder. I did open a business account with them in December last year, one of the requirements was to show the proof of citizenship.
I think the same goes for personal banking.

Sam
Sam

Successfully opened PNC personal in past without being a citizen or a permanent resident.

Santander
Santander

My wife was able to open a PNC bank account in a branch. She was on a temporary visa in the USA (in fact she did not have a SSN or ITIN at that time)

The DJ

I believe for PNC, the citizenship requirement only applies when applying online. In branch, permanent residents can also apply with proof of ID.

Pablo
Pablo

Yup, that’s correct. I couldn’t open online but was able to in-branch as a resident.

jr
jr

This is correct. I opened a Savings account in-branch while on a visa

StarAdmiral

I am in the US on a work visa and have a PNC account. Need to apply in branch

Xavier
Xavier

PNC requires citizenship to open online.

Marcus
Marcus

This is a good idea, although we need to take a more nuanced view here. IME there are three ways to ask for your residency status:
1) Citizenship
2) Permanent Residency aka Green Card
3) US Person (defined as PR holder OR satisfies the substantial presence test http://premieroffshore.com/u-s-person-tax-purposes/)

I’m in the US on a student visa. I’m neither a citizen nor a PR, but a US Person because I’ve satisfied the substantial presence test. Many foreign students are none of the above; some are 2) and 3), some are 1), 2), and 3), etc. Their distinctions are subtle but important.

Here are some of my DPs:
-Wells Fargo only requires you to be a US Person. I applied online and was approved.
-Citizens requires you to be a US Person. I applied online and was approved.
-Citi requires you to be a US Person to apply online; if not, you can still apply in branch. I applied in branch where they asked for my visa-related documents and got the bonus.
-Huntington: Applied in branch, didn’t get asked anything, approved.

Here’s my approach if you’re not a citizen or PR:
1. Try apply online; carefully read the instruction to see what it asks for (some asks whether you’re a citizen; others just say US Person)
2. If online doesn’t work, do it in branch. Go to a remote area where there are few foreigners. Likely bankers won’t ask you your citizenship status as they assume you’re one of them. However, if they do, be honest and explain your status. They might have products catered to foreigners.

Shawn
Shawn

+1

There is one more category, non-resident alien (or non-us person).

I think that most banks will allow a non-resident alien to open an account in-branch with a US address and proof of identity (passport). Some that I know for sure to work are Bank of America, Chase, Wells Frago, TD Bank, PNC, Bank of the West.

Dan
Dan

This is an accurate explanation.

Anke H
Anke H

+1
Agree, I would also like to see the differentiation plus if you can work around in branch.
PNC online application requires citizenship and I don’t have a branch around, so ignoring this bank entirely.

jr
jr

Same here. If you pass the substantial presence test, you may also be called a temporary resident alien and you can apply to Citi and WF. Just did it this past week as I opened checking accounts with them to hit their bonuses.

John Doe
John Doe

Note that international students on F-1 visa will always be considered as a Non-Resident Alien during their first 5 years in the US.
The substantial presence test only applies starting from the 6th year.

G
G

This page is great but can be even better if we can have in-branch and online separately

The DJ

I agree. This distinction is important and useful when providing DPs also.

Jack - NJ
Jack - NJ

Just a note, the prerequisites may be different for regular and business accounts. Might have to split this post in 2.

Kyle
Kyle

Citizens bank requires US Citizenship OR being resident aliens. By IRS definition, if you are a green card holder or meet substantial presence test for the calendar year, you are considered resident aliens.

Procrastinater_Elite
Procrastinater_Elite

From my experience, the following do not need US citizenship or a Green Card:
Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi Bank, Chase Bank, University of Wisconsin Credit Union, Federal First Tech Credit Union, Digital Credit Union.

WZ
WZ

I’m a non-permanent-resident but resident alien for tax purposes, which means I pay taxes as citizens do, since I have been in US for more than 5 years. I opened Ally and Citizens accounts without problems.
Also, a representative from Wells Fargo, which supposedly only offers credit cards to citizens and permanent residents, once told me that I could open a WF credit card without problem.
I guess in most cases it’s more of a tax identity rather than actual legal status.

Matthew F
Matthew F

There are a few distinctions that are useful. Some banks require an ITIN or SSN, some require only that a non-resident (or non citizen) fill out a W-8BEN form. However all that I know of require an in-person visit to a branch.

Citibank, and Bank of America can both open accounts without an ITIN or SSN, and only require address proof (can be a foreign address). They can even open unsecured credit card accounts.

I know 1 national credit union and 1 regional bank that can open accounts without an ITIN/SSN.

You need to be persistent when talking with front bank employees, it’s also 100% illegal to discriminate against nationality (or place of origin). To be sure you get an actual answer, I often state that it’s discrimination, and to please double check with a manager.

Does ally bank require an SSN/ITIN?

BW
BW

Bank of America does not. They were the only bank my wife could find that would give her a credit card without a SSN.

Sa
Sa

Citizens bank doesn’t require citizenship. Green card holders can open accounts too.

Celia
Celia

That’s ironic 🙂

Great post. I know a few green card holders that this will help.

Ren
Ren

ha ha what about Emigrant Savings Bank?

Brennan
Brennan

Ditto this. My wife was able to open an account as a permanent resident.

Kumar
Kumar

I/my friends was able to open Citizen’s bank account online without GC too. Opened bank account for my wife in branch with ITIN number too and got bonus.

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