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mishab

US bank account closing. Can it affect n400 decision. Please respond.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Russia
Timeline

Not sure if this is the right place to post this question, but considering where we are in the immigration process, this seems to be the right place.

On 9/26 my wife sent out the N400 and on 10/1 we got the first NOA. So far no red flags and we are hopeful to complete the immigration journey before the end of March.

Well, last night my wife and I got 2 separate letters from Citibank stating that “based on a recent review of your relationship with Citibank we have determined that we can no longer service your account and it will be closed on 11/3”. Since I have never received anything remotely similar, I called the 800 number found in the letter and the customer service rep suggested that I call the local branch for further info. However they gave me a hint that their decision is based on the cash activity in the account.

This morning I called the local branch and spoke to the branch manager. She did not give me much additional information, but also hinted that the decision is due to suspicious cash activity with the wife’s account. And since her name is on the join account, that account is also affected. The branch manager asked silly questions such as “how we use the joint account” and “what is the purpose of the joint account”. Other than that she said that the best thing to do is to come to the branch tomorrow and have a call the office and get more information. She genuinely sounded clueless. Of course I could not refrain from asking the key question, whether my wife and I are permanently banned from Citibank and to my surprise the answer was: Yes, regarding my wife and No regarding me. That sounded alarming.

My guess on the cause:

Soon after my wife’s arrival the USA (3 years ago) we went to open 2 Citibank accounts: one individual and one joint. Few weeks after that my wife decided to withdraw cash from the Russian bank using the ATM and deposit the funds into her account. She kept doing this on and off once or twice per month. The amount ranged between 1K – 10K to cover every day expenses as well as annual payments to private schools. The Citibank’s $3 service fee is much lower than the 1% charged for the same transaction made via a teller, so she kept doing this. She would deposit money immediately into her Citibank account via the same ATM.

I recall receiving a call from Citibank asking about these transactions. I explained that we are transferring the money from Russia using the ATM. The concern was about the transaction that close to 10K. And I was asked whether this is done to avoid reporting this to the IRS. I said no – we do this strictly out of convenience. The bank sent us a form, which we filled out and returned back to the bank. I believed the matter was resolved.

Back in March of this year after the first wave of US sanctions against Russia was announced, my wife did a massive sweep and withdrew the remaining amount (larger than usual) and deposited into the account. The sweep took a week and it was done simply of fear of not being able to withdraw the cash in the future. Plus the RUS rouble started showing first signs of decline. This was a family decision and I was fully supportive of that.

I do not believe we broke any laws here. The bank supposedly will issue a cashier check tomorrow and hopefully we would be able to open another account with another bank.

We probably will never know the “official” explanation on why the accounts were flagged and soon to be closed, but if anything, the above is the only scenario I can think of.

My questions are:

  • Has anyone run into similar issues? What did you do?
  • What should we do to resolve this. Having being banned from the largest US bank is a serious thing.
  • Our credit reports are perfect. Not sure if this issue will somehow affect this. Obviously getting home loan from Citibank will be problematic.
  • Any reason to think that my wife will be banned from other banks?
  • Is there a slight chance this matter can surface during the n400 processing? (this probably should be the top question.)

Thanks

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They think your money is being laundered, and I think they would report you to irs already. You should expect concerns with irs not USCIS.


N400

12/06/2014: Package filed

12/31/2014: Fingerprinted

02/06/2015: In-Line for Interview

04/15/2015: Passed Interview

05/05/2015: Oath letter was sent

05/22/2015: Oath Ceremony

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She's probably listed in ChexSystem that most banks use. See if you can open an account in another bank, otherwise do a search for banks not using chexsystem or those not relying too much on it.


ROC 2009
Naturalization 2010

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Russia
Timeline

Here is an update:

- Yesterday went to the local branch where the account was first opened. Spoke to the manager on duty. He called somewhere and after numerous "yes" and "I understand", he said that he was not given much information other than listed in the letter and there is nothing he can do.

He reiterated that most likely citibank flagged my wife's account due to large amount of cash deposits. Upon my detailed explanation on why we did this, he suggested to use wire transfers instead of cash deposits.

We opened another account across the street without any issues.

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