Immigration Bonds 101

Jeremiah David Williams

Written by

Immigration Attorney

Posted March 28, 2010

If you or your loved one is detained by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the USCIS, it can be possible for an immigration bond to be posted to gain their immediate release. Obviously, each case is different; it's a very good idea to contact a qualified immigration attorney to discuss the particular situation.

First, let's discuss the two types of immigration bonds: the delivery bond and the voluntary departure bond.

Delivery Bonds

Under a delivery bond, an individual must be issued a Notice of Custody Conditions and Warrant of Arrest. Not all individuals will have the delivery bond made available to them. Basically a bond is "insurance" that the detainee will show up for their future court date. Usually the judge sets the bond amount depending on the severity of the crime. Once the bond has been posted the detainee is temporarily released. This gives them time to meet with an immigration lawyer, such as myself, who could improve their chances of staying in the United States. While meeting with an immigration lawyer is possible in a detaining facility, it is less convenient and communication is more limited. Therefore, many individuals hope to post bond and be released until their court date. After an individual posts bond and shows up for their court date the amount of the delivery bond is returned. However, if an individual fails to show up for the mandatory court date, the bond is forfeited.

Voluntary Depature Bonds

The second type of bond that may be available is the voluntary departure bond. In this type of case the immigration judge grants voluntary departure. This means that the individual has agreed to leave the country at their own expense and within a specific period. The voluntary departure can be granted before the removal proceedings even take place or before the proceedings have been completed. A voluntary departure bond is posted as a "guarantee" that the individual will leave the U.S. within the time agreed. If they fail to do so, the voluntary departure bond is forfeited and additional legal trouble ensues.

The Basic Bonding Process, Part 1

Bonds can be posted by either the detainee, or someone wiling to post the bond amount for them such as a relative or friend. The amount will vary as there is no flat rate for a bond. The bond must be made in cash. Once the payment is received the detained will be released. They must appear in court for their future appointment or the bond money will be lost. If they fulfill their obligation to show up for court then the money is returned to the individual whom posted bond. The money can possibly take a year or even longer to be returned so this makes it harder to find someone who is willing to post the bond. There may be other requirements that must be met by the individual posting the bond as well. In the cases where the bond amount cannot be posted by a relative or friend, detainees have another alternative. They can turn to someone who posts immigration bonds or an immigration bondsman. However, using their services will likely result in a higher fee.

The Basic Bonding Process, Part 2

A co-signer will be required and possibly some type of collateral may have to be put down. An immigration bondsman can be found in the telephone directory such as the Yellow Pages or by doing an Internet search. They will usually charge a non-refundable fee based on a certain percent of the bond amount. It is important to do some research on the bondsman because they must have a special license for immigration bonds. In addition, the insurance company that underwrites the bonds must be registered with the government. Calling the State's Division of Insurance in the state the bondsman does business may be another way of finding out if they are qualified. Others may opt to turn to an immigration attorney for references.

Held By ICE

Many individuals have found themselves being rounded up by ICE officials sometimes in the most unexpected places. Once they are detained this does not translate into an automatic deportation. Usually the detained are to appear in immigration court at a later date or later dates. The detainee can plead their case and the immigration judge will make the final decision. If the individual is given the opportunity to post a delivery bond this should be taken advantage of. The cost of the bond will vary on the individual's case and may come at a higher price if a bondsman provides this service. In the case that a bondsman is needed, research should be done to make sure they are qualified.

Posting a Bond is a Good Idea

Being outside the detaining facility allows the individual to be able to spend time with loved ones in the comfort of their home and to work more closely with an immigration lawyer. A bond represents a contract and if the individual detained does not honor this contract then there are consequences with legal repercussions. The bond is not only forfeited, but after missing a court date it is highly likely that they will now be deported. A voluntary departure bond works similarly to a delivery bond but it is more definitive in the sense that the individual is not fighting deportation and has agreed to depart the country.

Bottom Line - Don't Give Up!

When a loved one is held by USCIS, the most important thing to remember is to not give up - there are ways to release your loved one. Your strategy starts with finding a proven immigration attorney who can help!

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