Will I Be Arrested at the Airport for My Bad Debts? – Maria

“Dear Steve,

I arrived in the US in 2002 with hopes and dreams of staying here permanently. I came on a student visa. Over the past years I have accumulated some credit card debt (20K) and private student loans with no co-signer (50K). I have started paying my student loans and not behind on any credit card payments yet. The problem is that I just lost my job and my working permit expires next month. The economy is so bad that I am having a hard time finding a job which means that I will soon default on my student loans and also the credit cards. Because my work visa expires that means that I have to leave the country soon.

If I leave the US without paying my debt (both private student loans and credit cards) what can happen to me? Can I still visit in the future? Will I be arrested at the airport upon entering the US?


Dear Maria,

Depending on where your home country is, it is possible that you might get some collection calls from an in-country collection company. However, it is unlikely.

I would suggest that you mitigate the damage if you have to leave and don’t think you’ll make enough money back in your country to pay the debts.

Think seriously about filing bankruptcy on the credit card debt and get that closed and done with before you go. It will be fewer debts that you’ll have to worry about in the future. The student loans are a different story. They can’t be discharged with bankruptcy so we’ll just have to leave those hanging.

Please feel free to come back and visit whenever you want. You will not get arrested at the border.

Please update me on your progress by

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P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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