Whether an illegal or undocumented immigrant in the United States may file for Bankruptcy apparently hinges on whether or not the immigrant has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) according to attorney Drake Shunneson.
Shunneson provides that a Social Security number or ITIN must be present inorder to proceed with the bankruptcy. Obviously, many immigrants are unable to obtain a SSN because of their illegal status. Thus, obtaining an ITIN is typically the only other way to obtain a discharge of debt through bankruptcy.
Roughly more than half of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country have ITIN’s. Many of these ITIN holders file their income taxes each year despite their potential illegal status. The road to citizenship often rests on proof of paying taxes and an ITIN would provide the only identification number to do so. Thus, it may be presumed that only some undocumented immigrants in this country may file for bankruptcy depending on whether they file taxes or at least have an ITIN.
Shunneson also cautions against filing for bankruptcy even if the immigrant has an ITIN if there is a pending lawsuit against them. Pending lawsuits, depending on the nature of the suit, may prevent continuation of the bankruptcy process and may open up potential issues with Immigration authorities. It is advised to speak to an attorney if this is the case.
Regardless, there are many reasons why an undocumented immigrant should obtain an ITIN. For tax purposes, you may receive your federal withholding back. You may be required to show proof of paying taxes for purposes of the Naturalization process in a N-400 Citizenship application, and, if in dire financial straights, an ITIN may qualify you, even if illegal, to receive a discharge of your debts.
Obtaining an ITIN number is free and easy. You should caution against paying someone to receive an ITIN because the process is so simple and free.
You may find out more about how to receive an ITIN on the IRS website here: