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Managing US Finances as a New Immigrant

Thank you to Lauren McGee for this extremely useful article!

Managing U.S. Finances as a New Immigrant

If you’ve newly immigrated to the United States, you’re likely managing a good deal of paperwork and getting yourself established in new living quarters, exploring your new city, and finding or settling into a new job or business startup. Establishing a bank account is probably on your list as well, and there are a few things you’ll need to have in place before that can happen. The Carson Chamber of Commerce can be an excellent resource for advice and guidance.

Obtaining Proof of Identity

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services publishes a detailed guide to getting established in the States. Permanent residents are eligible to apply for a Social Security number, which can help make other financial matters easier to navigate. You can use your Permanent Resident Card or your driver’s license to prove your identity and open up a bank account. Once opened, you can use the account to deposit cash or checks and withdraw funds in the form of cash, a cashier’s check, wire transfer, or money order. You may also request a bank-issued debit card, which you can use to pay for goods and services or to make deposits or withdrawals from an automatic teller machine, or ATM.

Services for Undocumented Immigrants

According to the American Immigration Council, some U.S. banks will allow undocumented immigrants to open bank accounts if they have a TIN, or taxpayer identification number, issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or an ID card issued by a U.S. foreign consulate. Banks vary on their policies, but a wide range of mainstream banks offer this service, so you’ll want to compare banks to find a financial institution that fits your needs. According to the Brookings Institution, having a bank account is important for immigrants, who may be targeted by criminals if they are in a position where they carry large amounts of cash in lieu of making secured bank deposits.

Starting a Business

Many immigrants come to the U.S. with a dream of starting their own business. Access to financial resources can be crucial to startup operations. According to SCORE, you may need to have an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa or EB-5 Visa to get a business off the ground. You’ll also want to choose a business entity, obtain an Employee Identification Number, or EIN, or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN. You may also need to apply for a business license, establish a business bank account, and ensure you are compliant with the requirements and laws of your state as they pertain to business formation.

Being Self-Employed

Working as an independent contractor or freelancer allows you some of the benefits of business ownership without navigating the same degree or regulations as a business start-up. For example, you can create an account on Fiverr or Fiverr Pro and promote specific services for sale, like graphics and web design, writing and translation, or programming and IT services. You can also join the gig economy by taking on “as needed” roles delivering food, driving rideshare, or providing other services. Many online job boards post roles that may be of interest. Get familiar with the more popular platforms as a way to generate money as you need it.

Immigrating to a new country is a significant life change, one that will come with both challenges and rewards. Consider joining community and industry associations that will help you get better integrated into your new environment.

The Carson Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to making the City of Carson, CA a stable, friendly community in which to work, shop, reside, and play. This involves working together with the entire community to generate a sound economic base for growth. Visit the site today to learn more about the benefits of membership.

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