Will filing for bankruptcy affect my immigration status?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you can still file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But many non-citizens are concerned that filing for bankruptcy in New York will hurt their chances of obtaining citizenship or permanent residence. Some even worry that a bankruptcy filing will result in deportation. However, these fears are – for the most part – unfounded, as filing bankruptcy protection is available to all documented individuals residing in the U.S.
If the U.S. government were to penalize non-citizens who are filing for bankruptcy, this would mean that it sees bankruptcy as a reprehensible or illegal act. Filing for bankruptcy is not a crime or a morally negative action. In fact, bankruptcy can be a healthy, responsible way to get out of debt and get your life back on track.
When filing for bankruptcy, it is always in your best interest to be honest with your lawyer and the judge throughout the entire case – and this is especially true for non-citizens. You must adhere to the law and be open about your financial history; this way you can avoid making a false statement about yourself, which is a crime. While some people try to “trick” the court in an effort to hide assets or supposedly improve their case, in the long run these actions are dangerous and unlawful.
It is also in your best interest to work with an attorney on your bankruptcy case. Members of immigrant communities who are in serious debt may take advice from individuals who are not attorneys or who are not familiar with U.S. bankruptcy laws. If you take advice from someone who is unqualified, you may end up committing a crime and getting yourself in serious trouble. Under U.S. immigration law, bankruptcy fraud qualifies as a felony offense that can result in deportation. Fortunately, taking the right steps and being honest will help you avoid taking any false steps during the bankruptcy process.
One final note on the bankruptcy/citizenship issue: keep in mind that actions such as a failure to pay your taxes or pay alimony may put you at a disadvantage when it comes to your citizenship application. If you choose to withhold child support or tax payments, this can be defined as an example of “moral turpitude,” and can prevent you from becoming a U.S. citizen.
In short, if a non-resident is open about his financial history and doesn’t commit fraud-related crimes, filing for a Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy won’t negativity affect his citizenship application. You do not need to be a citizen to file for bankruptcy. In fact, those who travel to the U.S. have a greater chance of falling into debt due to factors like travel expenses, higher credit card rates, and deceptive lending. So bankruptcy relief should be seen as a healthy route – and a democratic right – for documented immigrants.
If you have questions about filing for bankruptcy in Queens and want more information, Call the Law Offices of Bruce Feinstein, Esq. today for a Free Consultation.
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