SAN FRANCISCO, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Bank of the West today announced its credit card program will now offer unsecured credit cards to expatriates who may have no or limited credit histories in the U.S, yet meet certain work visa, employment and financial requirements. It is a significant expansion of a credit card program currently offered to international clients of Bank of the West's parent, BNP Paribas.
Each year, thousands of people arrive in the U.S. with work visas – from engineers and marketing professionals who were transferred from a subsidiary to U.S. headquarters (L1), to specialists in their own field (H1-B) and dreamful entrepreneurs waiting eagerly to start their new adventure (E2). Almost upon arrival, some new residents learn for the first time that credit scores and credit history – which can be low or non-existent for many – are crucial to finding their financial footing in the U.S.
"As an immigrant who moved to the U.S. thirteen years ago, my family and I personally experienced many of the financial challenges faced by new residents today," said Thierry Gabadou, head of the International Clientele group at Bank of the West. "For many expatriates, having good credit means having no debt. The concept of how to manage debt is new to them, and sometimes not easily understood."
According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of foreign-born residents in the United States is at its highest level in U.S. history, reaching 40 million in 2010—13 percent of the total population. Immigration is currently approaching annual levels nearly matching the peak period in the early 20th century.
Demand for specialized foreign workers in U.S. metropolitan areas is high—particularly in areas that fall within Bank of the West's 19 state footprint. In Brookings Institution's report on top metropolitan areas with the highest H-1B demand, California ranks near the top with Los Angeles, The Bay Area, San Jose and San Diego regions placing second, third, fourth and fifteenth on the list respectively. Other regions experiencing high demand for foreign workers include Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue (ranked 10th), Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington (ranked 16th) and Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale (ranked 18th).
"I'm proud that Bank of the West, as a subsidiary of an international group with a significant number of expatriates, not only understands this cultural issue but can act on it to provide much-needed financial solutions to immigrants. It personifies our unique approach: a local relationship bank with global clout," said Andy Harmening, Senior Executive Vice President, Regional Banking Group at Bank of the West.
The expanded credit card program is a natural extension of the Bank's International Clientele group, which has experienced double digit growth since its inception in 2010. "I couldn't be more pleased with the growth of our International Clientele group," said Gabadou. "It demonstrates that the Bank's modern western values – straightforward, optimistic and entrepreneurial – are the same values that expatriates want in a banking partner," he continued. "It also reflects the power of our relationship with BNPP – and how the relationship translates into real benefits for our clients."
Applicants interested in the expatriate credit card program can visit Bank of the West branch locations throughout its 19-state footprint or email [email protected]. Branch staff is supported by a team of multilingual Business Development Officers.
About Bank of the West Founded in 1874, $63 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.