Voluntary departure is a form of relief from deportation or removal proceedings for immigrants in the United States. It allows individuals to leave the country voluntarily rather than face a forced expulsion. By doing so, you have the opportunity to avoid certain consequences that come with deportation, such as lengthy bars to reentry or a negative impact on future immigration benefits.

However, opting for voluntary departure also has its drawbacks, making it essential to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. It’s crucial to understand the factors that the immigration court will consider when granting voluntary departure, as well as the potential benefits and disadvantages of choosing this option.

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Key Takeaways

  • Voluntary departure offers a chance to avoid some negative consequences of deportation, but it’s essential to weigh its pros and cons.
  • Understanding the factors considered in granting voluntary departure can help you make an informed decision in your immigration case.
  • It’s important to consider both the benefits and disadvantages of voluntary departure during removal proceedings to determine if it’s the right choice for you.

Understanding Voluntary Departure

Voluntary Departure vs Deportation

When facing the possibility of removal from the United States, it’s crucial to understand and explore all available options. One such option is voluntary departure. This allows you to leave the U.S. at your own expense within a specific amount of time to avoid a deportation order. The key difference between voluntary departure and deportation is that with voluntary departure, you maintain greater control over your departure arrangements, and you are not automatically barred from legally returning to the United States in the future (AllLaw).

Prehearing Voluntary Departure

A prehearing voluntary departure gives you the chance to voluntarily leave the U.S. before the commencement of removal proceedings. If you choose this option, you must provide evidence to show that you have no intention of staying in the U.S. This can be a cost-effective and less time-consuming alternative to removal hearings, as long as you comply with the terms and deadlines.

Voluntary Departure by Stipulation

During the removal proceedings, you might have the option of voluntary departure by stipulation. In this scenario, you and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agree to certain terms, which include your voluntary departure from the U.S. By agreeing to these terms, you remove the need for a formal hearing and potentially diminish any negative consequences associated with a removal order.

Post-Conclusion Voluntary Departure

Lastly, there is the option of post-conclusion voluntary departure. This involves requesting voluntary departure at the conclusion of your removal hearing if the judge decides against your favor. By choosing this option, you avoid an order of removal being entered into your immigration record. However, this option is subject to more stringent eligibility requirements, and you must depart within a specified timeframe.

Understanding these different types of voluntary departure options can empower you to make informed decisions if you find yourself facing removal proceedings. By considering your personal circumstances and carefully weighing the pros and cons of each option, you can choose the best path forward.

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Benefits of Voluntary Departure

Avoiding Penalties

By choosing voluntary departure, you can arrange your departure yourself, without being escorted out of the U.S. by government officials. This option provides you with the freedom to leave on your terms and avoid some of the harsher penalties that come with deportation. For instance, when a foreign national is deported from the U.S., a bar to reentry is imposed, preventing the deported person from returning to the U.S. for a number of years. By opting for voluntary departure, you can avoid this reentry ban, making it easier for you to return to the U.S. in the future if you choose.

Another advantage is that, by voluntarily departing, you won’t be subject to the negative consequences that come with failing to leave the United States by the specified date from a removal order, such as the risk of being detained and deported.

Cancellation of Removal

In some cases, when you opt for voluntary departure, you may be eligible for cancellation of removal. This is a form of relief granted to certain individuals who have been living in the U.S. for a specified period and meet other criteria, such as the demonstration of good moral character and no criminal history. Requesting voluntary departure before the deportation process begins can potentially allow you to avoid the deportation altogether if you qualify for cancellation of removal.

Cancellation of removal may also be available to you if you have applied for other forms of relief, such as asylum or withholding of removal, and your application is still pending. In this case, if your relief application is later granted, you could be allowed to stay in the U.S. despite having requested voluntary departure.

Remember that, while voluntary departure may offer advantages, it is crucial to weigh the benefits and drawbacks based on your specific situation. Consider consulting with an immigration attorney to determine the best course of action for your case.

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Disadvantages of Voluntary Departure

Costs and Fines

While voluntary departure might seem like a good option, it’s essential to consider the financial aspect. Under voluntary departure, you are responsible for covering all the costs of your trip back to your country of origin. This could include airfare, transportation, and other related expenses, which may be burdensome, especially if you are already in a difficult financial situation.

Additionally, you might be subject to fines for accumulated immigration violations. This will further add to the financial burden associated with voluntary departure.

Impact on Future Immigration Opportunities

You may feel that voluntary departure is a more appealing option than forced deportation. However, it is important to understand that it can still have a negative impact on your future immigration opportunities. For instance, if you were not legally in the U.S. when you chose voluntary departure, you might have to wait for several years before being allowed reentry.

Additionally, depending on your specific situation, you may face a period of inadmissibility. This means you could be barred from returning to the U.S. for a certain number of years, as determined by the specifics of your case.

It’s also worth noting that if you’ve been involved in any immigration court proceedings, choosing voluntary departure may limit your ability to apply for certain types of relief, such as asylum or cancellation of removal, in the future.

In conclusion, it is crucial to weigh the disadvantages of voluntary departure carefully, considering the financial costs and the potential impact on your future immigration opportunities. Be sure to seek professional advice to fully understand how voluntary departure will affect your situation and make an informed decision.

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Photo by mpewny

Removal Proceedings and Voluntary Departure

Master Calendar Hearing

During removal proceedings, you may be scheduled for a Master Calendar Hearing. This is an initial hearing in which the Immigration Judge schedules your case and gives you an opportunity to learn about your rights and responsibilities in the immigration court. It’s important to attend your Master Calendar Hearing; if you fail to do so, the Immigration Judge may issue an in absentia order, resulting in deportation without the chance to present your case.

Notice to Appear

The removal proceedings begin with a Notice to Appear (NTA), issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The NTA outlines the reasons why the United States government believes you are in the country unlawfully and should be removed. Make sure to carefully review your NTA, as it contains important information such as the date, time, and place of your first immigration court appearance.

Grant of Voluntary Departure

During removal proceedings, you may have the option to request a Voluntary Departure from the Immigration Judge. This allows you to leave the United States at your own expense and within a specific period of time, thus avoiding a formal deportation order. Voluntary Departure can have fewer negative consequences on your immigration record compared to a deportation order, making it easier to apply for future immigration benefits.

There are two types of Voluntary Departure: pre-conclusion Voluntary Departure and post-conclusion Voluntary Departure. The pre-conclusion option is available before the final decision on your case, while the post-conclusion option is available after the Immigration Judge has denied any other forms of relief, such as asylum or cancellation of removal.

To be granted Voluntary Departure, you generally need to demonstrate good moral character and show that you have no criminal history. Remember that the decision to grant Voluntary Departure is at the discretion of the Immigration Judge, so it’s important to prepare a strong case for yourself when requesting this form of relief.

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Factors Considered for Granting Voluntary Departure

When considering whether to grant voluntary departure, there are several factors that come into play. In this section, we’ll discuss two of the main factors: Good Moral Character and Criminal Record. It’s important to understand how these factors can affect your eligibility for voluntary departure.

Good Moral Character

Having a good moral character is one of the key criteria for being granted voluntary departure. This means that you should demonstrate honesty, fairness, and respect for the law in your daily life. Some examples of actions that could reflect good moral character include:

  • Honesty and truthfulness in your dealings with others
  • Financial responsibility (e.g., paying taxes, child support)
  • Acts of charity or community service

It is essential to be able to show your good moral character when applying for voluntary departure, as immigration authorities will take this into consideration when deciding whether to grant your request.

Criminal Record

Your criminal record can significantly impact your eligibility for voluntary departure. Certain criminal offenses can disqualify you from this option, such as aggravated felonies or multiple criminal convictions.

  • Aggravated Felonies: If you have been convicted of an aggravated felony, it may be very difficult to obtain voluntary departure. Aggravated felonies can include, but are not limited to, murder, rape, drug trafficking, and certain white-collar crimes.
  • Criminal Charges and Convictions: Other criminal charges or convictions can also make it challenging to be granted voluntary departure. If you have a criminal record, it’s important to review it carefully to understand how it may impact your eligibility.

Remember, immigration authorities will evaluate your situation on a case-by-case basis. So, even if you have a good moral character and no serious criminal record, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted voluntary departure. It’s crucial to present the most compelling case possible when applying for voluntary departure, showcasing your good moral character and addressing any concerns about your criminal history.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of choosing voluntary departure?

Voluntary departure offers several benefits when compared to deportation. Firstly, you can leave the U.S. at your own personal expense, which can help avoid the stigma associated with deportation 1. Voluntary departure also avoids many of the immigration consequences that come with forced removal, such as the potential bars to re-entry into the United States, or the impact on future immigration applications.

What are the drawbacks of voluntary departure?

While voluntary departure has some benefits, there are also drawbacks to consider. You will need to bear the expense of your return trip. Additionally, you will not be provided with any financial assistance or resources for your return. It is essential to weigh these considerations before deciding whether voluntary departure is the right choice for you.

How does voluntary departure affect future immigration possibilities?

Choosing voluntary departure can make future immigration applications more favorable than if you were forcefully deported. For example, if you are deported, you may face re-entry bars ranging from 5 to 20 years, depending on the circumstances surrounding your removal. Voluntary departure can help to avoid these repercussions, increasing your chances of a successful future immigration application.

What is the difference between voluntary return and expedited removal?

Voluntary departure, also sometimes called voluntary return, is a process where you choose to leave the U.S. at your expense and avoid many consequences associated with deportation. In contrast, expedited removal is a fast-tracked process used by U.S. immigration authorities to remove certain noncitizens without a formal removal hearing. Expedited removal can carry more severe immigration consequences, such as longer re-entry bars.

Can a voluntary departure be appealed?

In general, voluntary departure orders cannot be directly appealed. However, if you believe that your eligibility for voluntary departure was unfairly denied during your immigration hearing, you may appeal the overall decision to a higher immigration court or federal court. This could potentially result in the court granting you voluntary departure.

How long is the ban period after voluntary departure?

If you leave under a voluntary departure order, there may not be a specific ban period preventing you from applying for a visa or other immigration benefits in the future. However, other factors, such as any unlawful presence in the United States, could impact your future eligibility. It is crucial to consult with an immigration attorney to better understand your situation and any potential restrictions that may apply.


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