Is it legal for Pakistanis to invest in the US

There are generally no restrictions or limitations on the part of the US government with respect to foreign nationals owning US publicly listed stocks and ETFs. The only exceptions to this rule generally involve US sanctions on countries or individuals. Pakistan does not fall under any sanctions regime relevant to investment accounts.

From Pakistan, the government of Pakistan has explicitly allowed investments into foreign stocks. According to the State Bank of Pakistan Foreign Exchange Manual, Chapter 20, Paragraph 13, Subparagraph D (1), Pakistanis are allowed to invest up to $25,000 per person per year abroad in investment accounts that invest in stocks.

Here are two astounding things you need to know about this regulation.

  1. You are allowed to make this investment without requiring approval from the State Bank of Pakistan.
  2. You are even allowed to convert money in your Pakistani rupee accounts and send them to a foreign account in order to do so and the banks are legally required to facilitate you in doing so.

If you go to your bank branch and ask to move money from a PKR account abroad, of course your bank branch will not allow you to do so. Despite the fact that it is legal, the government of Pakistan has informally placed such strict capital controls that it is all buy impossible to conduct any transaction that requires the conversion of currency from Pakistani rupees to US dollars.

However, they will allow you to move money from a USD account, though they will offer at least some resistance before they do so.

Bear in mind: almost all bank branch managers will initially make you feel like what you are requesting is illegal. You need to show them the reference to the law (linked here). If needed, please e-mail help@ and we will provide you with a letter that states the legal basis of your request and why they should allow such a transaction to go through.

Even then, they will make excuses, but if you insist that this is what you want to do, after a few tries, they will make the transfer.

Why should you make so much effort to move your money? We’ll answer that question with another question: do you really want to keep your money in a financial institution that makes it so difficult to make a withdrawal and makes you justify why you need YOUR OWN MONEY? Who are they to ask you such questions?