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Can a Bankruptcy Filing affect my Immigration status?

This is a question commonly asked by many of my clients. Miami based immigration lawyer Michael Shane answers this question in a concise and well written article entitled “Effect of Bankruptcy on Naturalization Eligibility,” which is published on the Lawyers.com web site.

Mr. Shane notes specifically that there is no immigration law, statute, or regulation that specifically forbids individuals who have filed for bankruptcy from applying for Naturalization. Additionally, there is no specific question on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, inquiring into bankruptcy. He also notes however, that your immigration status can be affected if you have not filed required tax returns or if you owe money to the IRS.

The INS is basically looking to see if an individual seeking naturalization has evidence of “poor moral character” which could be grounds to deny an application. The filing of a bankruptcy petition as a consequence of financial hardship clearly does not rise to the level of “poor moral character.”

Mr. Shane suggests, and I agree, that if you are facing any type of immigration issue, you should disclose that fact to your bankruptcy lawyer at your initial consultation as well as discuss your potential bankruptcy filing with your immigration counsel.