Voluntary Departure vs. Mandatory Deportation

When a person is facing imminent immigration consequences, including deportation, sometimes voluntary departure is a person’s best option. Sometimes not. In this blog we explore what voluntary departure is and when you might want to consider it. As always, this blog is for informational purposes only – you should consult with an immigration attorney when exploring your options and ultimately making a decision. voluntary departure

Every month, many foreign nationals are being held in over 1,000 ICE-detention facilities spread across the United States. Each person faces the risk of being deported from the country. Unfortunately, there are instances where an individual has no option other than to accept deportation from the United States. Sometimes an immigration lawyer may have to advise the person that there are no defenses to a removal or deportation order. In such a situation, how the individual is to leave the United States must be considered by this person’s immigration attorney.

Reasons an Individual May be Deported from the United States

There are several reasons why a person may be facing the possible risk of deportation. One obvious reason is that the individual simply did not have the right to be in the United States and may have illegally crossed the border, or otherwise entered illegally. Other reasons include not complying with the terms of a temporary visa or green card, failure to update USCIS with a change of address, violating immigration laws, or committing a crime which violates Section 237(a) of the I.N.A. (Immigration and Nationality Act).

What is Voluntary Departure?

Voluntary Departure, as opposed to mandatory deportation, gives an individual a window of time to leave the United States on their own instead of being escorted out of the country by immigration officials.

How is Voluntary Departure Granted as an Option?

Not everyone qualifies for voluntary departure. It can be requested from DHS officials prior to the initiation of removal proceedings. It can also be requested by an immigration judge after the initiation of removal proceedings.

What are the Pros and Cons of Voluntarily Departing the United States?

The largest benefit of voluntary departure is that the departure does not go on the individual’s record and would allow that person to seek entry into the U.S. in the future via a legal pathway. The greatest drawback of voluntary departure is that the individual must agree to forego any other forms of relief to defend against their removal from the U.S.

Voluntary Departure allows a person to leave the country on their own terms. Generally, the period in which an individual must comply with their voluntary departure is 120 days. To encourage compliance with the departure, oftentimes, the person who is granted voluntary departure must post a bond.

If I Choose Voluntary Departure, Can I Come Back to the United States?

It is very important to keep in mind that separate grounds for inadmissibility to the U.S. would apply if an individual is unlawfully present in the U.S. for a certain period. If the individual was unlawfully present in the U.S. for a year or more, this would bar their reentry into the U.S. for a period of ten years. If the individual was unlawfully present in the U.S. for a period which exceeded 180 days but was still less than one year, then their voluntary departure may still subject them to a three-year ban of reentry into the U.S.

What Happens if a Person Fails to Comply with the Grant of Voluntary Departure?

Aside from a potential fine of up to five thousand dollars for noncompliance, an individual who does not comply with their grant of voluntary departure may face other penalties. This includes a ten-year bar of reentry into the United States and a mandatory deportation under the supervision of immigration authorities.

It is important to understand what defenses and remedies are available before a decision for voluntary departure is made. The attorneys at Gilles Law, PLLC are here to assist you with any questions you might have.