Hard financial times can fall upon anyone living in the U.S., even if they are not a U.S. citizen. A person living in the U.S. with a Green Card might be interested in filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but can they do so if they are not a U.S. Citizen?
Who can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S.?
The good news is that you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S. if you either reside in the U.S. or own a home, business or real estate in the U.S. U.S. citizenship is not a requirement, meaning lawful permanent residents can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
To file for bankruptcy, you must have a Social Security number or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). You might not have a Social Security number, but if you work in the U.S. and have filed federal income taxes, you likely have an ITIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Know the following
The information in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing will be made available to the government, and if it includes falsities or acts of misconduct it could land you in legal hot water. While filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is by no means a crime, certain criminal offenses can get a lawful permanent resident deported.
Lawful permanent residents who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in good faith might worry that doing so will affect their chances of obtaining citizenship. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider whether an immigrant is of “good moral character” before granting citizenship, but the USCIS cannot use the fact that you filed for bankruptcy against you when making this consideration.
For some lawful permanent residents, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the second chance needed to get back on their feet financially. Used properly, Chapter 7 bankruptcy helps many in the U.S. who have overwhelming debt.