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Will Bankruptcy Affect My Immigration Status?

Norma Duenas

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Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Articles | Learn About Chapter 13

A large worry for many immigrants who are considering filing for bankruptcy, is how it will affect immigration status in the United States. With few exceptions, the filing of a bankruptcy case should not affect immigration status. Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not a crime and therefore should, for the most part have no effect on your legal status within the United States.

Immigrants who currently hold a valid green card or are legal permanent residents will not be revoked their residential status because of the filing of bankruptcy case.  Bankruptcy is a legal method of eliminating debt, and therefore has no effect on your status as a permanent resident. The exception to this comes where as part of your bankruptcy case,  you disclose a crime that makes you subject to deportation. If your bankruptcy proceeding reveals crime or conduct that make you subject to deportation then there may be some risk to your legal status. This situation is uncommon and would only be a risk for a person who has committed a crime or conduct that make them subject to deportation such as aggravated felony, fraud,  tax evasion, and firearm offenses.

Many legal permanent residents are hoping to eventually apply for U.S. Citizenship and are worried that filing for bankruptcy will not allow them to do this. In many instances they have been misinformed and told that bankruptcy can prevent them from ever becoming a U.S. citizen or told that it will negatively affect their ability to apply for citizenship.  The requirements to qualify for U.S. citizenship include having  good moral character. The filing of a bankruptcy case does not disqualify you from becoming a U.S. citizen because you have poor moral character. The limited circumstance in which the bankruptcy may affect your application for U.S. citizenship, is if it reveals a crime or conduct that shows poor moral character. In addition it may affect it if your bankruptcy included discharging taxes, since the application for citizenship requires that all taxes must be paid or be part of a repayment plan.

If you do not have green card but are here on a visa,   the above would also apply. The filing of a bankruptcy case should not affect your visa status unless the bankruptcy proceeding reveals acts or crimes that make you subject to removal from the United States. The actual filing of a bankruptcy case would not make your subject to removal from the United States.

It is always important to consult a local bankruptcy attorney and immigration attorney regarding your immigration status and how bankruptcy can affect it. Each case should be evaluated on an individual basis to determine if there is any special circumstances that may affect your immigration status when filing for bankruptcy.

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