You may second-guess the option of filing for bankruptcy if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is currently reviewing your citizenship application. Or you may be hesitant if you are a legal resident of this country, as you may fear that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be prompted to deport you. Read on to discover how a bankruptcy filing may affect your immigration status and how a seasoned Louisville, Kentucky consumer bankruptcy lawyer at Schwartz Bankruptcy Law Center can protect you.

Does a bankruptcy filing have any effect on my immigration status?

Put simply, no, a bankruptcy filing may not have any effect on your current immigration status in the United States. This is because the USCIS and the DHS do not consider your bankruptcy declaration as an indication of bad moral character. What’s more, it may still be possible to file for bankruptcy if you are an undocumented immigrant. But if you do not have your own Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification Number, then it may be better to consider alternative relief options.

At the same time, your current immigration status may not have any effect on your ability to file a bankruptcy petition. This is because federal bankruptcy law holds that any individual who is legally residing in the United States may be considered eligible for bankruptcy proceedings. In fact, no section or part of your required bankruptcy forms will inquire about your current immigration status.

Further, if you wish to pursue your bankruptcy proceedings in the state of Kentucky, you must prove that you have resided in this specific state for at least 91 days out of the past 180 days. Otherwise, you may have to postpone your filing date.

What do the USCIS and DHS consider to be “bad moral character?”

To reiterate, having a bad moral character may have an effect on your immigration status within the United States. So even if your bankruptcy declaration does not fall under this category, your other financial matters might. With that being said, the USCIS and DHS consider the following circumstances as signs of having a bad moral character:

  • You have a history of failing to pay federal taxes (or a history of committing tax fraud).
  • You have a likelihood of becoming a public charge (i.e., requiring government-funded cash assistance, institutionalization for long-term care, etc).
  • You have been found to have committed bankruptcy fraud (i.e., incurring a large amount of debt to avoid alimony or child support, hiding assets, etc).

In the end, if the USCIS or DHS categorizes you as having a bad moral character, then they may deny your citizenship application or deport you from the country, respectively. This is why, if you have a complex immigration status, you must not question your instinct to retain the services of a competent Louisville, Kentucky consumer bankruptcy lawyer. Our team at Schwartz Bankruptcy Law Center will work to determine which legal option best suits you.