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Voluntary Departure As A Defense To Deportation

Our Minneapolis immigration lawyers and deportation defense attorneys at Wilson Law Group aggressively defend noncitizens who are facing deportation in a removal hearing. In some instances, requesting a voluntary departure might be an appropriate legal strategy, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.

What Is A Voluntary Departure?

Voluntary departure is a type of relief that is available to certain individuals who are in removal proceedings before the immigration court. A grant of voluntary departure allows one to leave the U.S. on his or her own and generally at one’s own expense rather than being removed.

How Much Time Do You Have To Leave The U.S. Voluntarily?

How much time the immigration court grants you to organize your affairs will depend on the type of voluntary departure you are granted. Individuals who request voluntary departure prior to or during removal proceedings can be granted up to 120 days to leave.

Individuals who receive voluntary departure after the conclusion of their final removal hearing can only be granted up to 60 days by the immigration court.

In all of these situations, the immigration court can grant voluntary departure for a period less than the maximum allowed for various reasons, including the consideration of criminal activity. The court may also require that a bond be paid before a person is able to depart under voluntary departure. For post-hearing voluntary departure, posting a bond is mandatory.

An immigration court always has the discretion to deny a request for voluntary departure.

Who Is Eligible To Seek Voluntary Departure?

Persons requesting voluntary departure at the master calendar stage must demonstrate that they have not been convicted of an aggravated felony and are not arriving aliens or terrorists.

Persons requesting voluntary departure after the conclusion of their final removal hearing must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year before being placed in removal proceedings. They must also demonstrate that they were a person of good moral character for the last five years, are not removable for an aggravated felony or security-related grounds, and generally have the means to depart the United States and intend to do so by the given date.

Individuals from certain countries need to have valid travel documents before they will be allowed to leave voluntarily.

Advantages To Leaving The U.S. Under Voluntary Departure

Voluntary departure is generally a better option than being removed because it will not impede a person’s ability to return lawfully to the U.S., should they have a legal way to do so in the future.

Individuals removed from the U.S., to the contrary, must first seek consent to reapply for admission from the Department of Homeland Security before they will be allowed to re-enter the U.S.

What Happens To Bond Money After Someone Leaves Under Voluntary Departure?

Every person who leaves the U.S. under voluntary departure must verify that they left the U.S. on time.  Prior to departing, a person must obtain a Form I-210 from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). This form is turned in to either border patrol officials or the U.S. consulate or embassy in the individual’s home country. The authorities stamp the form, and sent it to the appropriate agency in the United States. Once proof of timely departure is received, ICE will begin the process of returning any immigration bonds paid in the matter.

Failing To Leave The U.S. As Ordered

Failing to timely leave the U.S. under an order of voluntary departure by the immigration court will automatically convert a voluntary departure order into a removal order against the individual. The removal order can then be enforced against the person at any time.

A Motion To Reopen Or Reconsider After Being Granted Voluntary Departure

The filing of either a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider will automatically terminate the grant of voluntary departure. If the motion is denied, the individual will have an order of removal.

Are You Considering A Voluntary Departure? Contact Our Minneapolis Immigration Attorneys.

Our immigration lawyers at Wilson Law Group offer free initial case consultations and evaluations. To schedule your free appointment, call our office at 612-430-8022 or send an inquiry through our website. Our deportation defense attorneys will assess your case and advise you on whether a voluntary departure is in your best interests.