Will Filing Bankruptcy Effect Your Immigration Status?

Blana TaylorThe Federal US Bankruptcy Code section 525 (a) prevents the government from discriminating against a person for filing a bankruptcy petition.  This section establishes the following (in part): “a governmental unit may not deny, revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew a license, permit, charter, franchise, or other similar grant to, condition such a grant to, discriminate with respect to such a grant against, deny employment to, terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, a person that is or has been a debtor under this title or a bankrupt or a debtor under the Bankruptcy Act, or another person with whom such bankrupt or debtor has been associated, solely because such bankrupt or debtor is or has been a debtor under this title or a bankrupt or debtor under the Bankruptcy Act, has been insolvent before the commencement of the case under this title, or during the case but before the debtor is granted or denied a discharge, or has not paid a debt that is dischargeable in the case under this title or that was discharged under the Bankruptcy Act.”

Filing for bankruptcy does not necessarily affect your immigration status, green card or the prospect of applying for US Citizenship. However, there can be repercussions to your immigration case if it is discovered that you lied on your bankruptcy petition (under oath); supplied false financial information; and/or left out certain information or assets on your bankruptcy petition. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will review any type of criminal act that you have been charged with or convicted of before and during the pendency of your immigration application for a green card or US citizenship naturalization.  The USCIS looks to make sure that you are of ‘good moral character’ and that you are not a financial burden to the US government.

The USCIS expects you to be candid with your immigration application, which is very similar when you file your bankruptcy petition with the US Bankruptcy Courts.  Financial problems can be explained to the USCIS and do not necessarily disqualify you as a legal resident or your application for US Citizenship.  The important thing is to demonstrate that you are not and will not become a burden and that your taxes are current or that you have made arrangements to pay your unpaid taxes.


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