I’m a UK Citizen and Living in the U.S. Can I Go Bankrupt?

“Dear Jon,

I am a UK citizen, having resided in US now for about a year.

I have moved here following my job, but recently was made redundant.

I have debt in UK with regards to credit cards and student loan totaling approx. £25,000.
I have struggled paying the monthly amounts now for a few months and am now in debt and cannot continue to pay and am considering applying for bankruptcy in UK. I have no plans to return to live in UK as I am now engaged to a US citizen and we plan to marry in a couple of months.

I am concerned how my debt or bankruptcy will affect me here in US, and will my creditors come after my wife once we are married?

Will it affect the possibility of me applying for a Green Card?

How do I go about filing for bankruptcy and is it best to file before I am married?

Mark”

Mark,

I understand your concerns, and you have some good questions, which I’ll answer as best I can.

If you go bankrupt here in the UK, you have a window of time to do this, and that window is three (3) years. During this time you can have a representative file and handle your bankruptcy for you. If you do go bankrupt in the UK, your debts will be discharged, meaning they are no longer owed, so your creditors cannot chase you here in the UK or anywhere to pay.

Your bankruptcy, and your debts do not affect your partner or wife when you get married. The debts are only your responsibility unless she co-signed or guaranteed them.

Keep in mind, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. What is the balance of your student loans?

Also keep in mind, you do not have to begin paying back your student loans until you earn over the threshold of what the government has set, and even then, you only pay a percentage of what you earn over the threshold. The threshold depends on when you started uni, if you started after September 2012, the threshold is £21,000 annually, and then you pay 9% of any earnings above that each month.

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As to how being bankrupt in the UK may affect a Green Card, that is a question for someone there in the states who handles immigration. To my knowledge it should not be an issue, however, immigration laws and procedures change regularly. Inquire with whomever helped you get into the states.

It doesn’t matter if you go bankrupt prior to getting married or after, either way you would need to report the change to the Official Receiver handling your bankruptcy. At that point they may wish to review your income and expenditure form and know your wife’s wages. This is not to have her be a part of your bankruptcy, but to get an accurate picture of your finances and to see if you have any surplus income to pay into the bankruptcy.

I hope this helps and congratulations on the upcoming wedding.

Regards,

Jon

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