Updated: Sep 30, 2020
*I write from the perspective of a Florida Bar Bankruptcy Attorney. I am not an immigration lawyer.
If you are a U.S. Citizen, you can file for bankruptcy in your district. However, you do not need to be a U.S. Citizen or even have a green card to file because bankruptcy works for creditors all over the world. You just need an ITIN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the IRS and you must prove residence. Although there is also no law that prevents someone from receiving approval for a visa, green card, or citizenship application, how does bankruptcy affect your immigration status?
Affect of Bankruptcy on Immigration Status
One of the things immigration will look into is whether an applicant is of good moral standard and you must prove you are financially self-sufficient. Filing bankruptcy itself does not mean you are of bad moral standard and it also doesn't mean you are not financially self-sufficient. In fact, filing bankruptcy can actually prevent someone from becoming a public charge because it enables them to recover financially. Good moral standard is a gray area as there is no clear definition. It is possible for a bankruptcy to be considered in bad character if the debt was drawn up for thousands of dollars to pay for things like vacations, weddings, avoiding paying for alimony, or general lavish spending.
So what constitutes a bankruptcy within moral standards? Debt comes for many legitimate reasons. When you have lost income, medical bills that have created unexpected expenses, or even an inflating interest rate causing a mortgage to increase. Most people who file for bankruptcy fall into categories like these. It is not filing bankruptcy that hurts immigration, its the reason for filing where the moral standard questions falls.
Bankruptcy Crimes and How they Affect Immigration Status
Bankruptcy crimes can certainly affect immigration status. What is a bankruptcy crime?
1. You cannot lie under oath.
2. You must swear under oath that all the financial information and documentation is complete, true, and correct to the best of your knowledge.
3. Refer to #1.
What Happens When a Bankruptcy Crime is Committed?
Jail time is a possibility as well as denial of your bankruptcy discharge. You can also be removed from the U.S. with the possibility of being barred for life. Always refer back to #1. You cannot lie under oath.
Getting Back on your Feet
Our goal is to get our clients back on their feet with a fresh start. When you are facing bankruptcy, it can be scary and challenging enough. Adding in the legalities of immigration doesn't need to be more stressful. Know your laws. Know your rights. Consult an attorney. You can book a free case evaluation now!