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Blog Home : February 2010
February 23, 2010
- Bankruptcy and Immigration Status
The law allows several options for people who are experiencing economic hardship. For example, residents can seek financial protection under Chapter 7 and/or Chapter 13 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code. However, bankruptcy can have a substantial impact immigrants and on those who are seeking adjustment of their status.
A bankruptcy filing can erase credit card debt, fines, and sometimes save your home from foreclosure (among other legal actions). However, it is very important that you check the impact this filing would have on your immigration status. It is critical that you understand the potential consequences for your specific situation.
The United States Government's public policy is not to allow residents and immigrants to become a "public charge." Therefore, there are several laws that specifically prohibit residents (with or without documents) to receive benefits such as food assistance (Food Stamps). Only U.S. citizens may qualify for this benefit.
The "public charge" concept is very important as it can have a significant impact on your immigration status. If you file for bankruptcy, the government can consider you as a "public charge." This problem is much more serious if you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Some debts with the federal government can be totally discharged through the bankruptcy process, however, this filing can create serious problems for you with the Department of Home Land Security.
It is imperative that you contact a qualified attorney in the immigration area, before filing, to understand the impact a bankruptcy may have on your immigration status.
Financial problems can be used as explained and may not necessarily disqualify a resident or citizen for benefits under immigration law. It is important to show that you are not, and will not, become a public charge. If you have tax debt, it will be necessary to establish some kind of verifiable arrangement to pay the IRS and mitigate the potential damage on your immigration case.
A foreclosure may also be evidence against you, depending on totality of the circumstances of your case.
Remember, not every financial problem may affect your immigration status, however, some problems of this nature can have a substantial negative impact.
If you have questions about foreclosure, bankruptcy, or have immigration questions, you can contact us here.
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