Can a US bank disallow a lawful permanent US resident (LPR) from opening an account?

Definition of lawful permanent US resident:

Lawful permanent residents (LPRs), also known as “green card” holders, are non-citizens who are lawfully authorized to live permanently within the United States.

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    A bank can refuse to open an account for an individual, just as an individual can refuse to open an account with a specific bank - unless discrimination law is involved. Are you positing that the bank has a policy of refusing certain people, or just that one individual was refused? Oct 6, 2018 at 22:12
  • @TimLymington The US bank clearly states it only accept US citizens.
    – bart
    Oct 6, 2018 at 22:15
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    Does the bank have a physical branch (in what state)?
    – user6726
    Oct 6, 2018 at 22:54
  • @user6726 No, this concerns a US internet bank without physical branches.
    – bart
    Oct 7, 2018 at 0:05
  • FWIW, there is a recent case of a brick and mortar bank in the United States, the Bank of America, adopting a similar policy in a controversial move that is likely to give rise to legal action. businessinsider.com/…
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 8, 2018 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


If this is a bank with a physical facility, it would be illegal to distinguish between lawful permanent residents and citizens. 42 USC 2000a prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation, when the basis of the discrimination is race, color, religion, or national origin. This law is written to apply to places, but not online services, and it is not yet settled at the highest level how this law applies to web businesses. Ford v. Schering-Plough Corp., 145 F.3d 601 (3d. Cir.) supports the view that a "public accommodation" is a physical place. Carparts Distrib. Ctr. v. Automotive Wholesaler’s Ass’n, 37 F.3d 12 (1st Cir.) disagrees, so it would depend on which federal circuit the issue arose in.

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    On its face it would appear that section 2000a does not apply to a bank because a bank is not described in paragraph 2(a), (b), or (c), unless the bank is located inside such an establishment as specified in 2(d). Can you point to anything that suggests that a freestanding bank office would be covered?
    – phoog
    Oct 8, 2018 at 12:50

FDIC Regulation 500 prohibits discrimination in making loans on the basis of "National origin" but not on the basis of immigration status. This story from The Nation says that Bank of America is denying accounts to non-citizens, and arguing that it is legal because of increased risks, although there are current court challenges to this. Perez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A is a case now pending challenging loan denials based on immigration status. This has particularly come up in regard to DACA recipients, rather than people with LPR status.

The US "public accommodation" laws probably do not apply, as a bank is not usually considered a place of public accommodation. Any specific state laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of immigration status might apply.

In short, this is an issue still not clearly settled. There seems to be no law or regulation requiring banks to ask for citizenship information, much less to deny accounts based on it, and it would be well to seek a bank with a different policy if possible.

The above is very US-specific. Many countries do limit banking access based on citizenship, i understand.

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. Before challenging any bank action, you may well wish to seek advice from a lawyer.

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