Bankruptcy Protection Is Available for Non-Citizens

Submitted by Jen Jones on Thu, 04/23/2009 - 5:06pm

Bankruptcy Protection Is Available for Non-Citizens

Like so many others right now, you're struggling to pay your bills, falling further and further behind, and wondering what you can do about it. Maybe you've heard about the benefits of bankruptcy: the ability to wipe out your unmanageable debts and save your home from foreclosure. But maybe you also think you don't qualify for bankruptcy protection, because it just so happens that you're not actually a U.S. citizen. Well, the good news is you can file bankruptcy, under certain circumstances.

To qualify as a "debtor- under the Bankruptcy Code, you only need to reside in the United States, or have a place of business or property in the country. There is no citizenship requirement for filing. Technically, you don't even need to actually live in the United States. The courts vary in their interpretations of what constitutes "property in the United States.- But in some U.S. jurisdictions, it may be enough that you simply keep a bank account there. Others may require that you demonstrate an intent and ability to become a permanent resident in the future. This could mean you have to have a permanent visa or a "green card.- The key point is that you may be eligible to take advantage bankruptcy protection, regardless of your non-citizen status.

Keep in mind that while filing bankruptcy generally will not affect your immigration status or naturalization application, if you're currently residing in the United States, the information you provide in connection with the case may affect your right to stay here. You are required to be truthful in your disclosures regarding your financial situation. This includes the income you've earned, the taxes you've paid, the specific debts you owe, and any transfers of money or property you've made in the months leading up to your filing. If you've been paid "under the table,- evaded income tax, used credit cards in other people's names, or transferred property to hide it from creditors, this will inevitably come out in the bankruptcy filing process. The Immigration and Naturalization Service may consider these actions as crimes of "moral turpitude,- exposing you to potential deportation.

As long as you haven't engaged in these sorts of actions (or been convicted of certain criminal offenses), and you approach bankruptcy with honest intentions, the bankruptcy filing should not create any immigration problems. If you're a non-citizen struggling with unmanageable debts, and you live or work in the United States, call an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your area today, and learn how bankruptcy can help you fight back against debt.

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