I Went to Study in the U.S. But Now Back in the UK and Left Debt Behind. What Can I Do? – Greg

“Dear Jon,

Non US-citizen (EU citizen), entered the US under a 5 year student visa in 2008. Left the US after 3 years, however left the US with a credit card debt of around $3,000 and an unpaid college bill of around $3,000, so a total debt of around $6,000.

The credit card debt is with a popular bank in the US has already sent mail directly to me in the UK, so they know my whereabouts.

A family member living in the US sponsored me to assist in getting into college, however left college after a couple of weeks and didn’t follow procedure to cancel the course and now stuck with paying off the full fee of the course.

I entered the US with the intent of learning and growing myself and ended up down a dark hole of temptation and partying which I now regret as one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I have delayed my future career and with the current economic crisis in Europe I cannot get a job in Europe with my lack of college education. I have also destroyed my relationship with my family in the US as they have been harassed by phone with my debt issues.

Please could you advise on how to tackle this debt? I have done research and I have found the following options, however I am not sure how these apply to me a non us citizen, and how it would affect my family living in the states who sponsored me for my college application will be affected.

My research has come up with the following options:

Pay the debt. This in unfortunately not possible with my current situation as I am unemployed.

Not pay anything and wait 10 years for the debt to be written off. I don’t like this option as my family is being harassed, I have no idea how this will affect them. Can they be sued? Are they liable for the debt? How does this affect my credit rating in Europe?

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File for bankruptcy. Is this even an option if I am not a US citizen? If this is an option, how would I be able to do this while I am in the UK?



Your situation is not uncommon and it sounds to me that you have done your homework. I’ll try to address your questions and concerns as best I can.

If you cannot pay the debt, doing nothing is an option, but are you working earning anything at the moment? If not, again doing nothing is an option. If you are working, trying to pay something towards the debts is a help.

Depending on the student loan and what type of loan it is, it may not go away as easily as a credit card balance. Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, which if you are now residing in the UK or EU, bankruptcy in the US is not going to be an option at this time.

Your family in America are not responsible for the debts, unless they co-signed or guaranteed the debts in anyway. If they did co-sign or guarantee the debts, they are responsible for them.

Your family if they are not responsible, meaning they did not co-sign or guarantee the debts, can simply state to the collectors, you no longer live there and stop contacting us. You mentioned the one company already has your new details, so they should no longer be contacting your family in the US.

As for your credit rating, does it really matter? Chances are the US debts are not being reported to any UK/EU credit agency, although they could be, but are you seeking out credit at this time, probably not.

One caveat here is if the US debts get sold to a UK or EU collection firm; they can then attempt to collect the debt(s) in accord with that country’s laws. If you are in the UK, happy days as the insolvency laws there are easier to work with. You could then consider a token payment plan, or even a DRO/Debt Relief Order, or possibly an Administration Order or if need be bankruptcy.

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If you are in the EU and the debt(s) are sold on there, the laws can be quite harsh in some countries.

I cannot tell you what to do, but I hope this information does help you.



Jon Emge is an experienced UK debt advisor who has helped thousands and thousands of people in the UK to deal with problem debt. Jon specialises in finding good solutions for problem debt using a variety of UK specific techniques.

If you have a question you’d like to ask about how to get out of UK debt, just use the online form. I’m happy to help you for free.

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