Can An Immigrant File For Bankruptcy?
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background or nationality is. Anyone, at some point, can find themself in debt, and thus, possibly thinking of bankruptcy. There is a possible hurdle to filing bankruptcy for some: Immigration status in the country. Can an immigrant file for bankruptcy, even without proper documentation to be in the country?
Nothing Prohibiting Immigrants From Discharge
There is nothing written into the bankruptcy code or any law that says that only US citizens can file for bankruptcy. A judge cannot deny your discharge, based solely on the fact that you are not in the country legally, or that you are in the country legally, but temporarily, under a Visa or other immigrant status.
However, there is a requirement that anybody filing for bankruptcy resides in a state or owned property in a state for 90 days before filing for bankruptcy. If you meet the residence requirements you must provide proof of residency in a state.
Many immigrants have social security numbers, so this may not be a problem. But depending on your status, you may not have a social security number or card. You can use an individual taxpayer number, which is issued by the IRS to those that don’t have social security numbers. Depending on where you are originally from, you may even be able to use a valid passport to show proof of identification.
Depending on where you lived previous to filing the bankruptcy, you may not get all the bankruptcy exemptions that other filers get. This is because you may have to use federal bankruptcy exemptions, or the exemptions from whichever state you were located in before you filed for bankruptcy, if that wasn’t in Florida.
Whether this helps or hurts you depends on what you own, and what exemptions you need—many debtors have very little property, and it doesn’t matter what exemptions they use, as all of their property is exempt anyway.
Will You Be Deported?
One thing on many immigrants’ minds, especially those who may not be up to date with their immigration paperwork, is being deported if they file for bankruptcy. They may be worried that their status will be discovered, or that even if they are in the country legally, that the bankruptcy itself could jeopardize their legal status in the country.
Trustees and judges are unlikely to report an immigrant to the government. There are stories of immigration officials hiding out at hospitals, schools, and courthouses, waiting to catch illegal immigrants, but this is very rare, and often dependent on the political climate of the nation at any given time.
Your bankruptcy attorney should communicate with your immigration attorney before you file, to make sure you are as safe as possible.
Immigrants can and often do file for bankruptcy, and you shouldn’t let your legal status in the country stop you from at least consulting with a bankruptcy attorney.
Bankruptcy may be able to help you no matter who you are. Contact the Boca Raton bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Orchard at 561-455-7961 today.