If you are reading my blog, it is because you have been accepted into NYU and want to know more about what to do once you arrive to New York! 

A picture of Jaifa with the words, "opening a bank account as an international student" next to her.

Opening a bank account as an international student was easy in retrospect, but when I first went through the process it was very overwhelming. Thankfully, NYU provides a lot of assistance through the Office of Global Services (OGS) in order to help students attain a bank account. OGS has a step-by-step guide in the New International Student Arrival checklist that I definitely recommend taking a look at. Here are some things I learned going throught the process myself. 

A Quick Rundown:

Most of the major banks in the United States have branches in New York, and some of these banks have branches near our campuses. A complete list of local banks and their locations can be found here.

A picture of a map that has all of the local banks near the NYU Washington Square campus.

Try, Try Again:

When I arrived in New York, my first priority was legalizing my new living situation in a new country. I had never lived in the U.S. before, so I was anxious and scared about how different things were going to be here. I carried copies of these documents with me all the time, and I also created an online folder with the same information that I labeled, “FOR WHEN I ARRIVE” (Yes reader, I am very Type A).

Trying to stay as organized as possible, I scheduled my time following a tight to-do list. My first task was to go to a bank and try to open an account. After trying to do so, an account representative told me I needed a social security number for this. After three failed attempts, I remember thinking that this was an impossible task, and that I would never be able to have a bank account in the U.S. I felt frustrated and very sad. But, like most things in life, this had a solution. Luckily, a friend told me to look for bank branches near the NYU campus since those locations would have a lot more experience opening accounts for students (domestic and international). After all, NYU has a large rate of international students!

Despite being frustrated after my three previous attempts to open an account, I decided to try again with the advice my friend gave me. I went to a bank near the campus, and in less than 20 minutes I was able to open a bank account! Bonus: they even gave me a Star Wars debit card (Even more bonus points because I am a huge Star Wars fan!!!)

Application Process and Criteria:

Each bank has its own set of criteria and application process. However, the general documents that you should prepare are: 

  • Passport or a copy of your passport

  • I-20 form [F-1 students] or DS-2019 [J-1 students & scholars] or copy of either of these documents

  • A copy of your most recent I-94 Record, which you can download for FREE here

  • NYU ID card which you can get at any of the NYU ID Center locations such as: 7 Washington Place in Manhattan, 2 MetroTech in Brooklyn, or at the Campus Safety offices located in Abu Dhabi or Shanghai

  • Proof of Enrollment and Proof of US residential address

  • NYU enrollment verification.

I also have two tips when dealing with the documents above when trying to open a bank account:

  • Bring extra copies of all items. Better to be overprepared than underprepared! 

  • List the address of the place where you are staying once you arrive to New York (even if it's temporary). You can always change it later if the place where you are staying ends up not being your residential address. (That actually happened to me!)

An image example of a "Star Wars" debit card that Jaifa received.

But Wait! There's More: 

Did you know that NYU has its own bank? The NYU Federal Credit Union has an open membership for students, faculty, staff, NYU alumni, and family members from the community. If you decide to go this route, you will need to deposit a minimum of $50 USD in your savings account. There is also an additional $10 USD one-time membership fee. If you're interested and want more information about this option, click here.

Steps to Success:

I always recommend trying to keep a level of calmness, trust the instructions given to you by OGS or any other member of NYU, use the resources you have available as an NYU student, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I always like to think of NYU as a “YES!” type of university. Here, everyone will always try to find a way to help you out; you just have to ask!