Voluntary Departure

If people are facing possible deportation from the United States, they may be able to ask to leave voluntarily. Although voluntary departure and mandatory deportation both result in them exiting the United States, the method of departure may have an impact on whether or not they can return legally in the future.

Definition of Voluntary Departure

Instead of immigrants being deported and having the offense placed on their record, they may request to leave the country on their own. If the request is granted, they are given a window of time in which they must leave. Those who do not do so within the specified time period could be fined and deported at a later date.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Voluntary Departure

The largest benefit of a voluntary departure is that no formal deportation is placed on an individual's record. This means that an undocumented immigrant who has been in the United States previously may apply to return to the country legally in the future. The primary drawback is that those who seek voluntary departure must agree to waive their right to appeal or seek further relief. People who wait until the end of a deportation proceeding to request such removal may need to post bond and meet other strict criteria.

Bonds and Leaving the Country on Time

Immigrants who seek to leave the country must show that it can be done at their own expense. In some cases, it may be necessary to post a voluntary departure bond of $500. After a request is granted, people have 120 days to leave the country. Failure to do so could result in the departure being reclassified as a deportation.

Automatic Termination of Voluntary Departure Order

There are three instances in which a voluntary departure order may be automatically terminated. First, an order may be terminated if the individual (or another relevant party) issues a petition to review a judicial decision. However, if an individual leaves the country within 30 days of requesting a review and provides evidence that they have left, it will generally be considered a departure instead of a removal.

An automatic termination may also occur if an individual decides to reopen his or her case. However, this does not pause or extend the amount of time that an individual has to leave the country after the departure order is granted.

If an individual fails to post bond, it could result in an automatic termination of the voluntary departure order. However, people may have the removal order changed back to a departure if they leave within 25 days and can establish that they stayed away. They will also have to provide evidence of departure and proof that they have not come back to the country.

Consequences for Failure to Depart

There are several consequences for failing to leave the country under the terms of the voluntary departure. Most importantly, the voluntary departure becomes a formal deportation order that is to be executed by authorities as soon as possible. That means that there is no relief available to the individual, and a 10-year bar will be placed on future reentry to the United States. In addition, those who violate their voluntary departure terms could be fined up to $5,000.

Those who don't think that they will have an order of removal overturned may wish to leave the country voluntarily. While it may not be ideal for an individual to leave a job, family members, and others behind, it may be the best way to come back legally in the future. An attorney can often work with the government to establish that someone selected for removal meets the criteria for voluntary departure as opposed to removal.

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