When my husband arrived in the United States he had only cash with him, no credit card, no debit card, just cash. I thought it was very important for him to put that money in the bank to be safe, so that it would not get stolen. That’s the norm or that’s what everyone does, right?
So on the day I finally convinced him that he needed an account, he got all the money he had in cash, his passport, his student visa, and anything else we could find to make it an easy transition to opening a bank account. But it didn’t go that well, it became a wild goose chase. The US banks required him to have a driver’s license to open an account. The passport meant nothing to them.
So, then his journey began…he goes to get a driver’s license, and he find out he needs a “non-working” social security number to get a driver’s license. So, he headed over to the Social Security Office to obtain one of those. After 10 days he finally received the card in the mail.
Having the Social Security number would then allowed him to get a driver’s license, but it’s not that easy, of course. When he went to the Department of Motor Vehicles Office they asked for an international drivers license to transfer. He only had his Moroccan Driver’s License, so after must discussion with the DMV, it was decided that he must take the written drivers test, and then take the driver’s test in order to get an official drivers license.
That was involved as well, because he had to get the drivers manual, study and then go take the written test first (which he passed easily), then make an appointment to take the driving part of the test (he passed that easily as well). This was done over a course of two weeks.
So after much heartache, he marched proudly into the bank with his new Social Security Number and Official Drivers License (the picture was truly a funny, but typical DMV photo), and opened a long sought after US Bank Account.
It was such a shock that so much had to be done to keep his money safe. It was almost embarrassing to me to have to go through this merry-go-round just to use a safe system of protecting his money.
Just for contrast….In Morocco, when you are a foreigner you can either use the ATM and get out Dirhams from your bank account in your home country where you have a bank account already, or you can open a convertible account. This is where you can only deposit from your home country (US Dollars for example) into your account, but never Dirhams. You need to open an account in the city that you reside, and you normally open it with that banks manager to put your money safely away.
If you have a wild goose chase story about getting a legal bank account, add your story to the comment section below. We can be a support to each other and laugh at the ridiculous wild goose chases we have to go through when you are married in a cross cultural marriage.