In 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department made 103,603 immigration-related arrests.
Many people coming to the United States overstay their visas. Yet others are here under the radar in violation of immigration law. In either situation, immigration officials face the problem of finding and returning these people to their countries of origin.
To make it easier to enforce immigration law, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act. This law allows a government official to require an immigration bond for someone suspected of immigration violations.
If you or someone you love is detained, you can use immigration bonds to keep your loved ones in the country and out of exile.
Keep reading for ten things you didn’t know about immigration bonds and how to start the process today.
1. What Are Immigration Bonds?
The U.S. legal system has stricter immigration laws than many other countries, so it’s essential to stay informed. If your citizenship status is not accurately listed, you might be detained in prison for some time. This is when you may qualify to apply for an immigration bail bond.
An immigration bail bond is a type of government bond which you might be responsible for posting to release yourself or a loved one from immigration detention.
Before you’re released from custody, you must ensure that the court is satisfied that you will appear for all future court procedures.
When ICE lets you go, they will attach a bond to your freedom in the form of a promise to abide by any conditions set by the court. Only specially licensed agents can process an immigration bail bond.
Although you might get bail, it won’t erase your previous charges or status in the United States. You can get a bond and be released from jail while your case is being processed.
Once you’ve paid your bond, you are still obligated to show up for all court dates and report to immigration officials.
2. There Are Types of Immigration Bonds
The process for immigration to the U.S. is a little more complex than for other legal situations. People who have immigrated before know about the complexity that can arise. It’s all too common for people to be poorly informed, ill-prepared, and defer costs into the future.
Before you know the type of immigration bond you need, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work.
Immigration bonds come in two forms: the delivery bond and the voluntary departure bond.
Voluntary Departure Bond
A voluntary departure bond allows you or your loved one to leave the country on your own terms and your own expenses.
Once you pay the bond and leave the country, you will receive a full refund of the immigration bond amount. However, if you don’t leave the country, you will forfeit the bond amount and not receive a refund.
A delivery bond is for an illegal immigrant who has been detained by ICE and qualifies for the bond by the immigration judge. This type of bond requires that you meet specific criteria. You can be issued a warrant of arrest and then get a notice on the terms of custody.
Delivery bonds allow the judge to make sure you turn up to all your hearings if you’re arrested. They also allow you to spend time with your family instead of sitting in prison.
3. Not All Detainees Will Qualify
People with a criminal background are historically incapable of being offered bail bonds and may not be able to receive them. The following conditions will prevent you from seeking the help you need:
- You have a deportation order and are avoiding being removed from the country
- You have past charges that are criminal in nature
- A judge deems you a threat to national security or the community
Your immigration attorney can help you prepare strong evidence that you qualify for a bond. They might require documents or other proof of:
- Close family ties: A letter of support from family members, a copy of your marriage certificate, or photos with family members or loved ones during get together and holidays
- Immigration sponsorship: Ask a legal resident of the U.S. to prepare a sponsor letter that states how you know each other, their contact details, and proof of residence
- Community ties and support: Proof of local organization membership (such as a church) or volunteering; letters of support from community members
- Employment and property ownership: Proof of financial independence through paycheck stubs, letters of support from your employer, or property deeds
Documentation is essential to a successful immigration bond hearing. If you show your judge enough supporting documents, they’re much more likely to feel that you’re eligible for a bond.
4. Immigration Bonds Require a Hearing
An immigration bond hearing is a proceeding that allows the judge to decide whether to release you from custody while waiting for your deportation hearing.
What happens at an immigration bail bond hearing?
On the day of your hearing, you will be transferred from your detention to the courtroom. If there is no on-site immigration court at the facility, you may appear in front of a judge via video conference.
To attend a courtroom proceeding, you or your loved one must wear federally-issued clothes and shoes. Unless you have committed a violent crime and would need extra protection, the court will not require restraints like handcuffs or shackles. The bailiff will instruct you where to sit, and you cannot interact with anyone except your lawyer.
The judge will first determine whether or not the government has enough evidence to continue holding you in custody. If they do, the judge will deny your request for release and set a date for your deportation hearing.
If they don’t have enough evidence, the next step is determining how much money you need to pay as bail.
5. Immigration Bail Bond Costs Vary
The bond amounts are set by either an immigration judge or ICE. Factors like your criminal history, immigration status, and current employment situation can raise or lower the bond amount.
If there are significant U.S. family ties or a lack thereof, the judge will consider this.
There may also be different levels of bonds that you can obtain depending on your charges and level of risk to the community. The cost of immigration bonds can start as low as $500 and go over $50,000 or more.
You can pay for an immigration bond through a surety bond or cash bond:
- Surety bond: When you or your loved ones work with a trusted immigration bondsman to pay the bond (cash or real property required as collateral).
- Cash bond: When you or your loved ones pay ICE’s bond in full; once you’ve all made court appearances, the money is fully refunded.
6. You Can Appeal a High Immigration Bond Amount
If a relative has requested that an immigration judge reduce the initial bond amount, some will do so. You can submit this request in front of a judge or in writing.
You or a loved one can also file a “Motion for Bond Redetermination.” This would grant you a separate hearing during which the judge will consider the bond amount. Your motion should simply state why you believe the bond should be decreased.
Your motion should also include evidence supporting the request, such as proof of steady employment, land ownership, community involvement, or steady employment.
If the judge thinks there is sufficient evidence, they will determine an appropriate bond amount. The bond amount will typically not change again unless the circumstances related to the noncitizen’s detention change.
For example, if one factor the judge used to make the bond determination was a pending criminal case that has since been dropped or resolved, you can ask that the judge lower the bond based on the changed circumstances.
7. You Can Get Your Immigration Bond Money Back
Certain types of immigration bail bonds qualify for refunds. To get the bond back, you have to hold on to the original document you signed at ICE when you originally paid your bond.
Additionally, you or your detained family member must comply with the judge’s orders. This applies whether a judge orders you or your loved removed or grants relief.
Be sure that you or your relative understands that any missed hearings, attempts to flee proceedings, or anything of the like will result in all of the money being forfeited.
Schedule a No-Cost Immigration Bond Consultation
For anyone who has been arrested and needs an immigration bail bond, please get in touch with a trusted immigration bonds agent like Amistad Bail Bonds. We will discuss options with you and your loved ones so that you can get back on the right path.
We are here to help you with any bail-related services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact our office for a no-cost consultation.