Financial difficulties represent equal-opportunity challenges – they can affect anyone from any walk of life. This is especially true in times of inflation, as the elevated cost of living can suddenly thrust someone from financial stability into a financial crisis through no fault of their own. Complications can arise when your salary was sufficient three months ago but can no longer cover soaring grocery, gas, and fuel costs. For immigrants to the United States, these complications can affect their current and future citizenship status. In this article, we take a realistic look at how bankruptcy can affect the citizenship process and applications – and how a bankruptcy attorney can help you to get the information you need through these trying times.

Applying for U.S. citizenship is a complex process in the best circumstances and economies, and the added complication of financial difficulty can make it even more confusing. Because of this, someone in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen may wonder if their application will be affected.

The answer is simple – yes, filing for bankruptcy will likely impact the citizenship process. One of the factors that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates when processing a citizenship application is the individual’s financial stability. One of the items they look for during this review process is whether or not you have filed for bankruptcy. However, it may not always have a negative effect. Depending on the unique circumstances of your particular case, bankruptcy could work in your favor.

To illustrate, let’s assume that you completed the bankruptcy process and had a significant amount of debt forgiven and discharged. Immigration officials may view your filing as pragmatic and intelligent, proving that you proactively managed and resolved your financial difficulties. They may also consider someone without debt to be a better candidate for citizenship.

However, if you once again incurred debt or defaulted on payments after filing for bankruptcy, it could be characterized as poor judgment and a lack of responsibility. In some scenarios, bankruptcy could result in your application being denied. The officials assessing your viability for citizenship may look at ongoing financial problems as a clear indication that you cannot care for yourself without public assistance.

In addition to determining your financial stability (or instability) in the future, the USCIS will consider how likely you are to rely solely on government assistance to survive. While a bankruptcy filing may influence their decision, they will also look at missed child support or alimony payments, which are not discharged during bankruptcy. With too many financial red flags, the USCIS may determine that your ability to obtain and maintain viable employment should be in question.

If you are currently in the process of applying for citizenship – or if you plan to apply in the future – it is essential to understand all of the possible ramifications of filing for bankruptcy before you file your paperwork.

IMPORTANT: In addition to speaking with a qualified bankruptcy attorney, please consult with your immigration lawyer before proceeding with any court filing.

Learning all the potential ways that bankruptcy may affect your citizenship application can help you to ensure the best possible chance at achieving all of your goals. For more information about filing for bankruptcy, call the law offices of Richard V. Ellis. With decades of experience and hundreds of satisfied clients, Mr. Ellis delivers compassionate, professional expertise to guide you through bankruptcy successfully.