Immigration Law Is All About Family

How your credit history could affect your immigration status

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2020 | Immigration Law

As an immigrant, maintaining your immigration status represents one of your major concerns. The last thing you need is an unexpected notice from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service announcing that they have targeted you for deportation. Unfortunately, however, a new rule enacted by the CIS late last year could negatively impact your immigration status. 

The CIS justifies its new rule as an attempt to rid the country of “public charges,” defined as immigrants who obtain assistance from the U.S. government. Immigration advocates, however, claim that, at best, the new rule represents a misguided attempt on the part of the CIS. Why? Because it examines your credit history and score to decide whether or not you may become a “public charge.” 

Lack of credit 

Putting aside the very real question of whether a person’s credit history has anything to do with his or her likelihood of becoming a “public charge,” the fact remains that many immigrants have no U.S. credit history to examine. If you immigrated here recently, you likely have not had time to establish credit. Even if you have lived here for some time, you may not have established credit for a variety of reasons. In other words, you are “credit invisible.” 

Lack of correlation 

Regardless of the excellent credit history you established in your home country, it has little or no effect on your credit history here. For one thing, your credit history may not have followed you to this country. Even if it did, your home country’s credit standards may not match those in the U.S. The same holds true with regard to the excellent credit score you maintained in your country of origin. Its number may not correlate to U.S. credit score numbers. 

Credit companies 

Yet another major problem with the new CIS rule lies in the fact that the U.S. has many credit reporting companies, including the following: 

  • Experian 
  • LexisNexus 
  • TransUnion 
  • FIS 
  • Equifax 

The new rule fails to state which one the CIS plans to use. 

Credit scores 

Finally, the U.S. likewise uses numerous credit scores, including the following: 

  • FICO issued by Fair Isaac Corporation 
  • Equifax Credit Score issued by Equifax 
  • PLUS Score issued by Experian 
  • VantageScore 

The new rule fails to state which credit score the CIS plans to use. In addition, Fair Isaac Corporation itself issues 16 FICO credit scores.