Do I Need Proof of Citizenship to Open a Bank Account?

Last month, Bank of America reportedly froze access to a Kansas couple after they failed to provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Josh Collins and wife Jessica Salazar Collins disregarded a form the bank mailed them in June asking whether Collins (who was born in Wichita) was a citizen, assuming it was a scam.

The couple's access was restored after Collins provided a driver's license, but the incident left many people wondering why the bank was asking for proof of citizenship in the first place, and others wondering if you need to be a U.S. citizen to open a bank account.

Citizen, Customer Information

Bank of America spokesperson Diane Wagner told The Kansas City Star the request was part of routine updates to customers' information. "If we don't hear from a customer in response to our outreach," she said, "as a last resort, we may restrict the account until we can confirm it is in compliance with regulatory requirements." In a statement last month, the bank asserted it is "required by law to maintain complete and accurate records for all of our customers and may periodically request information, such as country of citizenship and proof of U.S. residency."

However, federal law doesn't prohibit banks from opening accounts for non-U.S. citizens, and must only request and confirm their name, date of birth, residential address, and Social Security number. Some banks may request citizenship information as part of efforts to curb international money laundering. But there is no statute prohibiting banks from opening or giving access to accounts without proof of citizenship.


Many banks will ask for a valid photo ID and Social Security number when opening a checking or savings account. However, tourists, permanent residents, and even undocumented immigrants may still be able to open a bank account if they can provide a passport, individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), alien identification card number, or any other government-issued document that proves your nationality or residence.

An ITIN is issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who don't have, and aren't eligible to obtain a Social Security number. ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status, and you can fill out a form W-7 to request one.

You may also have to provide proof of address, for which a utility bill, lease, current driver's license, municipal ID should suffice.

If you've been denied access to your account based on your citizenship, or are having trouble opening a bank account due to citizenship issues, contact and experienced banking attorney for help.

By Christopher Coble, Esq

Immigrants Scrutinized Over Foreign Addresses

Jose Nicolas Ramos-Portillo lived in a Salvadoran village where literally everybody knew him.

But he fled the village in fear of gangs, and found his way to the United States. When immigration officials asked for an address, he gave them the village address because his family would get his mail for him there.

He didn't expect it to become a federal case, but a lawyer had to argue about it to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. That's because the government issued a deportation order against him without sending any notice.

Foreign Addresses

Ramos-Portillo appealed the deportation order, saying he never received it. The officials admitted they never sent one, but said it was his fault and it was too late to appeal.

In oral arguments covered by Courthouse News, the Fifth Circuit judges pointed out Ramos-Portillo didn't check with federal authorities for 20 years. Attorney Richard Harris responded that his client was waiting for them to contact him.

"He relied on the government's assurances to him, written and oral," Harrist said.

Justice Department lawyer Raya Jarawan said Ramos-Portillo should have given the government a U.S. address. She said the issue was whether the Board of Immigration Appeals abused its discretion when it denied his appeal, not the foreign address question.

"So we don't have that proper, beautiful case in front of us to decide if this statute is truly ambiguous or allows for...a foreign address," Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod commented.

Immigration Enforcement

However, mailing address problems leave room for many immigration cases to fall through the cracks. Another one fell to the Fifth Circuit on the same day.

In that case, Melida Teresa Luna-Garcia lived in a Guatamalan village. She also gave her village address for correspondence from immigration enforcement.

Her attorney, Nadia Dahab, said foreign nationals do not have to give a U.S. address to border patrol or immigration officers. "This statute requires only that she's able to provide an address that she could be contacted and that the government requires written notice," she said.

Even so, it is getting more difficult for immigrants all around to come to America. The latest administration policy limits asylum and gang and domestic violence victims.

By William Vogeler, Esq

Another Deadline Passes, but Hundreds of Immigrant Families Remain Separated

Last Friday was the latest court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunite immigrant parents and childrenwho had been separated for detention. And while the Department of Homeland Security claims that over half of the separated children have been reunited with their parents, hundreds remain in government custody, many with no plan for reunification.

So, what's next for these families?

The Numbers

Though exact figures are hard to come by, Vox has a breakdown of the numbers based on statements from DHS, ICE, and the Department of Health and Human Services:

  • 1,442 children ages 5 to 17 (of an estimated 2,000-plus) have been reunited with their parents;
  • 711 children remain in custody and have not been reunited with their parents;
  • 431 (or so) of those have parents who have already been deported;
  • 57 children under 5 (of 102) were reunited with parents by an earlier deadline, more may have been reunited since;
  • 378 children have been released from government custody (some with their parents or other family members, some perhaps not); and
  • 102 children's parents waived their right to reunification (though they may change their minds later).

What happens to reunited families remains unclear: As many as 900 parents still face deportation, and may be granted the choice to bring children with them, or leave them behind; hundreds of reunited families have been released already, although many with monitoring devices; and others remain in detention together. And for children who are still in custody and whose parents have either been released in the U.S. or deported, the American Civil Liberties Union is working with government officials on locating parents to facilitate reunification.

The Problems

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw said that the government "deserves great credit" for reunification efforts thus far, but admonished agencies like the HHS and Justice Department to do a more efficient job of reuniting children and parents in the future. "This problem cannot repeat," he said. The ACLU is also asking Judge Sabraw for a seven-day stay on deportations of reunited families.

If you have questions or concerns regarding family immigration issues, an experienced attorney is only a call or click away.

by Christopher Coble, Esq.

Do You Have to Carry ID With You at All Times?

Can you leave the house without your ID? It seems like a silly question to most, but with some shifts in state immigration laws, it has become a serious question.

In a perfect world, you wouldn't need to carry your ID on you at all times. But here's what you might expect in the real world:

When You Leave Your Home...

Despite the questionable legal status of Arizona's immigration laws, there is no place in the nation where simply being in public without ID is illegal.

However, there are several states in which it is an arrestable offense if you refuse to identify yourself to police. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that these kinds of laws can be legal, as long as the officers had reasonable suspicion to detain you in the first place.

In states with these laws, like Arizona and Nevada, you may be required to give police your full legal name. But you don't have to answer any other questions, and you shouldn't need any form of identification.

When You're in a Store...

Federal courts have held that certain stores may legally require you provide ID in order to make a return. You can also be legally required to show ID for the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, or even cold medicine.

When You're Driving...

Driving without a license is a crime in all states and in Washington, D.C. This means you need to have your valid driver's license on hand if an officer stops you while driving. Failing to show proof of a valid license is a lesser offense than not having a license at all, but it can still be a crime.

When You Vote...

There is a rising trend in many states to require photo IDs to be presented in order to vote. The federal government sued Texas over its voter ID law in August, claiming that the law discriminated against ethnic minorities.

If your state has one of these laws, it may be legal for ballot officials to require you to show a form of photo ID. Contact a local civil rights attorneyif you feel your state's laws are keeping you from voting.

If you're not involved in one of the activities above, you should be OK to not carry your ID.

By Brett Snider, Esq.

What's Happening to Pregnant Women in ICE Detention?

ICE detention centers have come under fire recently for their treatment of families, most notably for separating young children from their parents. But in a little publicized situation, families-to-be are suffering an equally devastating situation. Pregnant women are miscarrying in these detention centers, and are not getting adequate prenatal care before, during, or after these miscarriages.

Miscarriages and Other Mistreatments

In a particularly moving expose, a young woman, four months pregnant, tells her story of bleeding out and writhing in pain on the detention center floor for eight days, begging staff for help, with none ever being rendered. She came to America to seek asylum and a better life for her unborn son. Now, she is returning to her native El Salvador, childless, accepting her fate of deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enacted a policy in December of 2017, allowing for the detention of women who are in their first or second trimester of pregnancy. Prior to this new policy, pregnant women were released from the centers on parole, so long as they weren't deemed a flight or safety risk.

According to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, ICE now provides pregnant detainees with a host of special care, including prenatal care, separate housing, specialists, transportation to appointments, and counseling, in accordance with this new policy. But interviewed detainees paint a bleaker picture, claiming few if any of these benefits are extended, and when they are, the delay is often deadly. The only benefits that had been extended, according to legal and health care advocates, were pregnancy tests, occasional pre-natal vitamins, and sometimes a standard screening exam by a non-specialist medical worker when entering detention.

An Unfortunately Unsurprising Tale

Instead of the additional care DHS claims to be administered, reports of physical and mental abuse abound in detention faculties throughout the country, including binding clothes, shackles, and being thrown to the ground. Standard care during miscarriage, including providing sanitary towels, have not been followed. Unfortunately, this isn't surprising.Pregnant women in American jails have experienced horrendous conditions, which have been deemed legal in the judicial system. Examples of approved practices are:

  • Restraining or shackling an expectant mother, even while in labor, to the bed.
  • Limiting bonding time between a mother and her newborn to 24 hours, despite solid medical evidence that continued contact between newborns and mothers benefits both mother and child, resulting in less medical care, and costs, to both in the coming years.
  • Detaining and incarcerating a drug-dependent pregnant woman to force her into medical care against her will.

If you believe you or someone you love has been mistreated in an ICE detention center, contact a local civil rights attorney who can listen to your experience and help you decide the legal action to take.

What Is A Treaty Trader Visa?

A treaty trader visa can enable a foreign national to immigrate to Florida for the purpose of starting, developing and directing import/export trade between the treaty country and the United States. A trader can apply for treaty trader visa using immigration lawyers in Florida, who would have knowledge of the application process and requirements, as well as advise you of necessary or applicable Florida legal services needed.

Benefits of A Treaty Trader Visa

You can derive several benefits when using a treaty trader visa, including:

1. Ownership
A treaty trader visa ensures that the holder owns the import and export business in the United States. The ownership can be in the form of individual ownership, majority corporate shareholder or as a major partner.

2. Duration
After the visa is offered, it may remain active for a substantial time if the treaty trader’s visa holder continues with active trade in the United States. Extension is done through the Immigration and Naturalization service of the US State Department.

3. Quick processing
Because a trader treaty visa is considered a non-immigrant visa, it has required that you satisfy certain quota waiting periods. The number of the visas that are awarded depends on the set quota for a particular year or duration. Depending on your country of origin and other immigration matters, you may have to wait before your application can be approved. Your immigration attorney in Florida can assist you with the application process and provide you guidance on the waiting periods. By working with a reputable immigration lawyer in Florida, mistakes in the application process can be avoided.

4. Allows You to Be Employed in The U.S. 
The trader treaty visa grants the principal trader the power to be actively employed in the United States. However, the holder must satisfy certain requirements such as draw salary, benefits or dividends; which are similar to what workers in the United States receive.

Under recent amendments, the spouse of the main trader may also be allowed to work in the United States and receive gainful remuneration. This type of visa may also allow the principal visa holder to import key managerial staff from their countries of origin if they have the expertise to run the import/export business effectively. The number of employees that the holder may be allowed to bring depends on the size and complexity of the business that the holder is running. However, these employees should be vetted and granted permission, all of which a Florida immigration attorney should be able to assist you.

5. Allows You to Attend School
The principal treaty traders and their dependents may be able to attend schools and colleges in America. This applies to attendance of all sorts of educational establishments, from basic elementary education to university education.

6. You can own property
Treaty visa holders have the freedom to buy residential and commercial real estate properties while they remain in the United States. However, if their visa status terminates (whether by choice or required), they may not be allowed to sell these properties. A Florida immigration attorney can advise you on what you should do to keep the visa valid longer should you need to sell. 

Requirements for Treaty Trader Visas
To be eligible for a treaty trader visas, here are some specific requirements that you should meet:

• You must be a citizen and national of a treaty country.

• You must demonstrate that you can achieve set trade volumes in your import/export business.

• You must provide evidence that you have enough finances to run the import/export business.

• The trader must prove that he or she has enough business acumen.

• You must agree that you will depart the United States if your treaty visa is terminated.

Why Get Help From a Florida Immigration Attorney When Applying For Your Treaty Trader Visa?

Applying for treaty trader visa can be complex and time consuming. Documentation and regulations can be very complex, therefore making it essential that they been handled by experienced immigration lawyers in Florida. There are some finer details and a wide range of legal issues that should be taken into consideration. If any of the requirements are not met in the application, the issuance of the visa could be denied.

By working with an immigration lawyer, you can reduce the likelihood of mistakes and improve the chances of your application being accepted. An immigration lawyer can advise you on the requirements and the process of the treaty trader visa or guide you through the immigration process that may be more suitable to your circumstances.

If you have any additional questions or queries contact us at (954).944.2799 or email info@DSALegalGroup.com

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact an attorney.

by N. Apfelbaum

How A DUI Can Affect Your Immigration Status


Individuals who are not citizens of the United States must undergo extensive background checks before they are admitted, while they are applying for adjustment of status and after they have been granted lawful presence. If they are convicted of a crime such as DUI, there can be significant consequences.

Nature of Immigration Process

A person must have a legally valid reason to immigrate to the United States. In some cases, this is based on a relationship between an immigrant and an American citizen or legal permanent resident. In other cases, a person immigrates based on employment with an employer in the United States. There are also cases in which a person is granted asylum, protected status or treatment as a refugee based on conditions in the individual’s home country. 

Criminal Behavior

For all immigrants, immigration status can be put at risk if the immigrant commits a crime while in the United States. Criminal behavior can prevent a person from being admitted into the country if he or she has not already been so. It can cause a person to be removed from the country once he or she is in the United States legally. It can also cause a person to be refused the ability to become a citizen in the United States. 

Crimes Involving DUI

The first thing for an immigrant to realize is the nature of the DUI charge against him or her.  This category usually includes alcohol or drugs, including illegal street drugs, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs. The charge may be referred to as a DWI in some states, which stands for driving while intoxicated. 

There are often various categories of DUI, ranging from different seriousness in the eyes of the courts. Each case is unique. While one type of DUI may not have immigration consequences in a certain context, it may in another. A simple DUI may be a misdemeanor, first-time offense. This type of DUI may not have as significant an impact on a person’s immigration status as a more serious DUI. More serious DUIs may involve an accident that resulted in injury or death of another, a very high blood alcohol content, reckless driving or a longer history of DUI convictions. 

Potential Impact on Immigration Status

A DUI conviction can have an impact on a person’s immigration status in a number of ways. This includes:

Finding of Inadmissibility

If a person is seeking an immigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa, he or she can be denied admission based on a DUI conviction under limited circumstances. This includes if the DUI was a result of a crime involving a controlled substance, if the sentence for multiple DUIs was for five years or more, if it is considered a crime involving moral turpitude or if the conviction supports the contention that the defendant is a habitual drunk. 

Effect on Employment

In some cases, a DUI conviction may cause a person to lose his or her job. This may be because driving is involved in the position, court time causes too much absence from work or the conviction is contrary to the employer’s policy. If an immigrant’s status is based on employment, this can cause him or her to lose the visa. 


In some circumstances, a DUI conviction can result in a person being deportable. Individuals who are convicted of an aggravated felony, a crime of moral turpitude, a crime of violence or crimes that have a combined sentence of a requisite period of time may be deportable. A person can be deportable if the conviction involves a controlled substance based on federal law.


If a person wants to adjust status from a permanent legal resident to a citizen, he or she goes through the naturalization process. This process requires the applicant to show that he or she has good moral characters for at least five years before he or she submits the application for naturalization. Additionally, if the DUI resulted in probation, the individual is not able to naturalize until after his or her probation is completed. 

Discretionary Benefits

In some cases, immigration decisions are based on a discretionary basis when there is no actual entitlement to the benefit. In these cases, any criminal convictions may be considered when making these decisions. 

Legal Assistance

An immigration lawyer can provide advice and recommendations on how to minimize the impact of a DUI charge. He or she may make suggestions on ways to prove good moral character or may suggest waiting for a certain amount of time after a conviction occurs before applying for additional benefits.

If you have any additional questions or queries contact us at (954).944.2799 or email info@DSALegalGroup.com

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact an attorney. 

Source: HG