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Many people don’t realize that you can, in fact, open a bank account without a social security number (SSN).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that anyone can open a bank account using their name, date of birth, address and “ID number.” Accepted ID numbers could include SSNs, Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or potentially other numbers, as well.

At Pelton + Balducci, our team of New Orleans-based immigration lawyers believe that everyone should be able to live the American Dream – and that starts with something as simple as opening a bank account. In this blog, we discuss how to open a bank account without a SSN.

Why do I need a bank account?

Bank accounts provide many benefits for U.S. residents, regardless of immigration status.

1. Saving Money

Paying bills or purchasing items with a bank account saves individuals money. Without a bank account, you may rely on payment services that charge fees, such as money orders, payday lenders, check cashing stores, or prepaid debit cards. A bank account helps avoid these fees.

2. Personal Safety

A bank account is also a safe place to store your money. The money is not as easily accessible by others, and there are laws that protect you in the case of theft. Your bank account may be insured up to a certain amount by law. Therefore, even if you are paid in cash, depositing the money in a bank account can help protect your funds.

3. Building Credit and Getting Loans

Credit is the ability to borrow money or access goods or services with the understanding that you’ll pay later. A good credit score is necessary for many life advancements in the U.S., such as securing loans, purchasing a house or car, renting an apartment, or even starting a business.

In order to build credit, you need to open a credit card and use it regularly and responsibly. However, to open a credit card, you need a bank account.

Another important point is that a bank account is required to get loans for immigration bonds, if you or a loved one is detained by the Department of Homeland Security.

4. Integrating Into the Marketplace

As technology advances, more and more transactions occur online and through apps. This might even include government transactions, like paying visa fees with the Department of State. You will typically need a bank account to access these products and services.

5. Proving U.S. Presence

There may come a time when you want to apply for immigration relief, such as cancellation of removal or U-visa / T-visa-based adjustment of status.

In these cases, you will need to provide proof of a continuous physical presence in the United States. Records of your bank account, payments made using the account, and correctly filed taxes can serve as evidence of your U.S. residence and strong moral character.

What do I need to open a bank account in New Orleans, Louisiana?

To open a bank account, most banks require your name, date of birth, address and an ID number. Each bank accepts different ID numbers – most take social security numbers or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, but some take other numbers. Make sure to call your bank before visiting to find out what ID numbers they will accept.

No matter what bank you visit, they will require documented proof of all criteria. What can you bring as proof? Here are some documents you can provide to your bank. (Don’t forget they should be current and unexpired.)

  • Name and Date of Birth:
    • Passport
    • Birth certificate (with certified translation)
    • Consular ID card
    • Government issued driver’s license
    • Employment authorization document
  • Address:
    • Utility bill in your name
    • Residential lease in your name
  • ID Number:
    • Social Security Number (SSN)
    • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
    • Alien Registration Number (“A” Number)
    • Passport Number
    • Another Government-Issued ID Number

What is an ITIN?

An ITIN is a type of Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). The IRS assigns these numbers to those who cannot get an SSN, so they can still pay or be listed on tax forms.

In order to obtain an ITIN, you must complete a W-7 form, as well as an Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

You can mail these forms to the IRS, or you can schedule an appointment for in-person assistance.

Contact or visit the New Orleans IRS office here:

1555 Poydras St.
New Orleans, LA 70112

Contact Pelton and Balducci in New Orleans Today

If you have questions about setting up a bank account with or without a SSN – or even the importance of opening a bank account as an immigrant in the U.S. – our team of Louisiana immigration lawyers is happy to help. Our experienced legal professionals can make recommendations to guide you through the process. Contact us today to get started.

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