I lived legally in the US for 6 years on a student visa. I left 2 years ago, and due to family problems, I left without closing my company and without paying income tax. I want to come back and spend a week in New York. Would there be any problem entering, like immigration stopping me at the airport and sending me back?

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    Trying to enter the US while in debt may lead to arrest at the airport. Happened to my uncle, over an unpaid parking ticket. He wasn't denied entry - just held in custody until he arranged to pay the debt.
    – ugoren
    Feb 10 at 9:01
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    @ugoren That may be true for being in debt to the government. I doubt that private debts would be treated the same way.
    – ajd
    Feb 10 at 16:22
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    @ajd "income tax" is NOT a "private debt". It's very much a government owed debt, and the IRS (or state tax departments) are very interested in collecting every. single. cent. they're owed, plus interest that would make a mobster blush.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 10 at 17:04
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    @TripeHound I guess what I was trying to get at is that "being in debt" is in most cases not a crime, and therefore you will not be arrested for it. Tax evasion, failure to deal with a parking ticket, etc. can be crimes, and thus they can lead to arrest.
    – ajd
    Feb 10 at 19:34
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    @FreeMan IRS's interest rates are preferable to many credit cards. The IRS is an eminently reasonable counterparty, those who don't agree don't understand tax law. Certainly the most easy-to-work-with counterparty I've ever sued (they don't sue you, they say "sue us".) Feb 11 at 23:19

1 Answer 1


Nothing is stopping you from paying your income tax.

You don't need to be in the US to pay income tax. Everything about it can be done online, or in the worst case by mail. So if you are concerned about this, getting your tax situation sorted out should be the first thing you do. Submit a late tax form and pay the bill. If it's a more complicated case then you may want to get a US-based lawyer involved. This can also be done without entering the US.

Not "closing" your company may also cause similar problems. The IRS may expect to see tax filings for the company for every year it is considered operating. You should sort this out while you are sorting out your personal tax.

There is one more problem you may encounter. In the general run of things people in the US on a student visa are not allowed to run companies. They can start and set up companies, but as soon as they actually do any work for the company (even unpaid work) they are violating the terms of their student visa. This is certainly true if they are on the usual F visa. This means you may have violated the terms of your visa during your last visit. There are some exceptions, and some ways round this restriction, and hopefully your case is one of the exceptions, but it makes sense to point this out in case you weren't aware of it. If you violated the terms of your student visa then you absolutely can be denied another visa, or turned back at the airport.

Sorting out your unfinished business from your last visit should be your first priority.

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    "Companies don't have to be 'closed' if they stop operating, especially if they are 'one person' companies." This is dangerously bad advice. At a minimum, the IRS requires a final return and you must cancel your EIN. See guidance here. There will be additional state requirements, especially if you incorporated or established an LLC.
    – josh3736
    Feb 11 at 5:54
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    Best answer ever. Feb 11 at 23:04
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    @josh3736 Edited that paragraph. Feb 11 at 23:50
  • "Clean up your room, then you can go outside and play." ;-) Feb 12 at 12:51
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    Endlessly delete the comment as often as you wish, but this answer is a helpful essay. It does not in the slightest even address the question. (The most salient actuyal fact relating to this question is the well-known point that (remarkably) the US has almost no connectivity between the IRS and the INS; this essay doesn't even mention that. It doesn't even take a random guess at an answer like "My guess is you'll be stopped", or whatever wild guess.)
    – Fattie
    Feb 12 at 15:41

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