Bankrupt Illegal Immigrants?

The recent news headlines on the open borders between Mexico and the U.S. is causing much heated debate. Regardless where you stand on the immigration crisis in this country, there are a few truths that are applicable for those who enter the U.S. One of those truths is the fact that bankrupt illegal immigrants can file for bankruptcy protection.

As you might expect, Texas is one state that has seen an increase in bankrupt illegal immigrants. If you are an undocumented immigrant, there are many rights you have, including the option to file for bankruptcy. In most cases, a social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) is required before you can file your case. There are cautions that are important for anyone who’s not documented.

Bankruptcy is Public Record

Because bankruptcy proceedings become public record, proper legal representation for both the bankruptcy and the immigration status concerns are crucial. It can, and often does, affect one’s immigration status. You need to know that there could be problems as a result of filing for bankruptcy. Specifically, it can affect your ability to remain in the country.

The U.S. bankruptcy laws don’t include limitations on who may file for bankruptcy. There are no requirements that one must be either a legal resident or an American citizen in order to file. Usually, if you have a U.S. address (domicile), own a business or other property, you are free to file. You must, however, be able to prove your identity to the court. This is typically done via a government issued identification, such as a social security number or ITIN.

The ITIN is a number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. These are issued to those who are unable to secure a proper social security number. This number also allows the IRIS to require you to pay taxes and failure to do so can cause problems. Keep in mind, though, if you enter the country legally with most any U.S. citizen or a visa, you likely won’t run into any problems associated with securing a social security number. If, however, your visa expires and you’re still here, you then become an “unauthorized immigrant”, though your social security number remains valid.

Many who are afraid of being deported will use another’s social security number. That is probably the biggest and most common mistake you can make. Lying to the court is not an option and if you’re caught doing so, you could very well face jail time, not to mention the problems you create for the one who “lent” the social security number to you. It’s fraud, whether you’re a citizen, are legally or illegally here.

Finally, the documents that everyone must provide are also applicable for immigrants, including generally six months of paycheck stubs, proof of your debt, any property deeds you have, titles to any vehicles you own, your criminal background, any documents that show you’re an heir to an inheritance, insurance policies, savings and banking information and any garnishments you have.

Of course, your first priority is to find a qualified and experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Texas. If you feel as though bankruptcy is the option you want to pursue, we invite you to contact our office to learn more about your options and what you can expect moving forward.

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