Isabelle, not really. The only bank that will allow you to open bank account without SSN is Bank of America (and that depending on the branch.) When I opened my account I had to be physically present and I highly doubt that changed meanwhile.
Even if you had account unless there is a hefty sum on it which makes you important client, the whole procedure of you actually gaining access to your money from outside of U.S. as a foreign national with US bank account is just extremely complicated, not clearly outlined, time-consuming, and can end up costing you even more than you pay now.And if it was six-figures sum in question, situation might be different but for someone who makes less-no. I had accounts at Chase ,TD , Apple, Bank of America (love Bank of America!) and I was alien resident in the US so I know what I am talking about.
@Natasa - thanks, I had a feeling it was more complicated than it seems. Someone once told something similar to what you're saying - but I forgot who that was so I wasn't quite sure of the process!
I am sure that EVERYONE gets a cut from Paypal.
Apart from 10% oDesk fee, it also charges 1$ to transfer the funds to Paypal. I don't know why.
Paypal charges 4.5% to transfer the money to my local bank account, which is in India.
It doesn't stop there, during the transition, additional 4% goes for Cross Currency Exchanging (Paypal), USD to INR. So, Paypal pockets nearly 8.5%.
I am sure my local bank gets a small cut.
I have transferred money to foreign banks from India, several times. The same bank charges flat 10$ for 1000$, the US & UK bank remittances. Currency conversion is not more than 1%.
Last month, one of my teammates transferred 900$ to India, after saving for 3 months. 80$ Rabid Bite. oDesk should implement some new ways to securely transfer the funds to all the countries. But I doubt that.
It's like you are ordering a pizza on a crazy hungry night. It gets delivered after 2 hours, you find a slice is missing from the box and the delivery guy still chews it in front of you. How do you feel?!!!
Without Social Security Number or Work permit, I don't think any Non-US residents could open Bank accounts in the USA. Someone correct me If I am wrong.
>> "oDesk should implement some new ways to securely transfer the funds to all the countries."
I completely support this idea!
In another thread some people asked oDesk to accept BitCoin.
MAYBE this would be one option that could be implemented without all these fees, although I'm sure there are reasons for NOT making BitCoin an option...
Still, I can see how this would be very irksome, to have all these fees gouge away at your earnings.
You can open bank account in U.S. without work permit or SSN (although nowadays SSN becomes a standard) if you are on some other visa status (with other legal documentation ,etc., etc) but that is not the issue here-discussion was not about foreigners opening bank accounts in US while they reside in the US. Of course you can do that! The issue was suggestion that you can open U.S. bank account from your home country as a foreigner without being physically present in the U.S. (which you can't ) and that you can be able to use that money without fees from your US bank account which you opened as non-US citizen or non-permanent resident while you are somewhere else- not in the US- (which again you can't .)
You absolutely CAN, I repeat CAN, set up a bank account in the US without ever setting foot here.
What you need is an EIN, which is relatively simple to get. Your problem is going to be though, that whatever money you earn here is subject to US tax law. You may find that it is more difficult to keep up with tax liabilty than it is to pay transaction fees.
Many of my clients don't feel that way, and there are services that allow you to hire a CPA for a flat rate in these situations. I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to continue to pay $30 for each withdrawal. Much, much cheaper to set up a LLC and deal with the US gov't and banks that way.
Thank you for bringing to this topic some experiences and knowledge that supplements what others have brought.
I know everybody who has posted here on this topic means well and has written based on their own experiences as well.
I would say that what I have learned is that setting up a U.S. bank account is possible for all types of people, including non-citizen residents as well as non-U.S. residents.
Not saying it is as simple as setting up a local bank account in your country-of-residence, and not saying it as simple as setting up U.S. bank account if you are a U.S. citizen and resident.
But I'm sure a little research or work with financial specialists will reveal that it is indeed possible and legal if done the right way.
This MAY NOT be a good idea or a helpful option for many people. Having a U.S. bank account SHOULD NOT BE A GOAL of anybody who is well served by their local banking system. But I have to say that Chad makes an excellent point: There has to be a better way to withdraw money than one which charges $30 per withdrawal - even in Mozambique.
Capital flows to where it is treated best. I believe that anybody whose capital is mistreated should allow their capital to flow to and reside in a place where it is treated well.
Not really for the reasons I noted above (also bunch of things you said about EIN and easiness of the process and accessing the money that just don't stand ) but I don't have the time to answer here in detail. I personally don't care. If someone wants to try to do it of course they should do it and see the results themselves.Good luck with that!
Thanks for sharing your real-world experience with us in this thread.
Clearly oDesk's community forum is not going to become a comprehensive and authoritative clearinghouse for information on this topic, but this has provided me with some food for thought and may prompt people to research the topic further to see if there are alternatives for themselves that they had not thought of.
Maybe oDesk's next "solution for contractors" will be oCoin.