Immigration is a hot topic in the United States, and it has been for some time. It’s especially problematic in Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, California, and Georgia, which have the highest detention rates.
Part of the problem is that many immigrants and their families don’t understand their rights. Just to be clear, whether you’re a naturalized citizen or not, you still have rights. One of those rights is arranging for a US immigration bail bond for your release or the release of a friend or family member from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center.
To learn more about US immigration bonds and how they work, keep reading.
What Is a US Immigration Bond?
When someone is arrested for immigration purposes, they are brought to a state or local immigration center. They are detained in these centers until their court hearing—which can take up to 600 days for processing.
ICE has the authority to release certain detainees to their families until their scheduled court date, which doesn’t require a bond. However, these cases are rare, and ICE will typically set an immigration bond to alleviate the burden put on families due to the time it takes to process each case.
A US immigration bond is a government bond paid as collateral for the release of a detainee, so they can await their court hearing at home with their families. They also serve as an incentive for the individual in questions to show up for their scheduled court appearance. At this time, the collateral paid for the bond is returned.
There Are Two Types of Bonds
There are actually two types of bonds available for individuals detained in ICE centers. The bond we mentioned above is known as a delivery bond, and the second type is known as a voluntary departure bond.
The delivery bond guarantees a detainee’s immediate release upon payment. From there, they have the opportunity to be with their families and seek legal counsel prior to their hearing. Of course, in the event that the individual does not appear for their court date, the money paid as collateral for the bond is kept by the United States government.
The voluntary departure bond requires the individual to leave the United States, usually to return to their home country, for a certain period of time. This can be until their scheduled court date, or it can be for good. However, if a detainee qualifies and chooses a voluntary departure bond but fails to leave the United States, they will face serious legal repercussions.
Who Qualifies for a Delivery Bond?
To be eligible for a US immigration bond, the detainee in questions must meet the following expectations:
- They have not been convicted, nor have they committed a serious crime
- They are not considered an “arriving alien,” i.e., someone that’s applying for permission to enter the country
Even if the detainee meets the above criteria, it’s ultimately up to the immigration judge and ICE to give them one. Before applying for a bond, it’s crucial to check whether ICE has already set a bond amount for the detainee’s release. In many cases, you’ll find that ICE sets their cases at “no bond,” at first. This is especially true for those who have been convicted or have committed a crime—even if charges for said crimes were dropped or expunged.
Regardless of the detainee’s eligibility, it’s always a good idea to request an immigration bond hearing. They’ll be appointed an immigration attorney if they cannot afford one, and that attorney will ask ICE for a reasonable bond to be set. In the event that the bond amount is too high, the attorney will try to negotiate a lower amount.
If the immigration attorney is denied by ICE, they’ll typically file a request for an immigration bond hearing. During an immigration bond hearing, the attorney will submit documents and provide other information to the immigration judge to prove that the individual is deserving to be released with an immigration bond. For example, they’ll demonstrate that the individual is financially stable, has strong familial or community ties, has lived in America for several years, doesn’t have a criminal history, isn’t a flight risk, and so on.
Additionally, the only people that can post a delivery bond are either legal citizens or green cardholders. Detainees must seek out family or close friends to post their bond as they legally cannot post it themselves. Whoever posts the bond is also explicitly responsible for the detainee up until their court date.
Paying for a US Immigration Bond
The cost of immigration bonds is on the rise. They can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000, depending on the case and the immigration judge. To pay a detainee’s immigration bond, there are two options: a surety bond or a cash bond.
A surety bond refers to the bond amount provided by an immigration bond agent. The bond agent typically charges between 15 and 20 percent of the total bond amount, so the detainee’s friends or family don’t have to worry about coming up with the full amount.
For cash bonds, the friends or family pay the full amount of the US immigration bond out of pocket. The bond amount is paid back in full once the scheduled court appearance has come to an end.
Finding the Right Immigration Bonds Agent
There’s a lot to consider when seeking the help of an immigration bond agent. The most important thing is finding an agent that’s competent and understands the situation at hand.
The last thing you want is to let your friend or family member sit in a detention center. You’ll want to find a bonds agent that’s local and operates on a 24-hour basis. That way, the detainee can be released as soon as possible.
The bond agent should also be able to explain the entire process to you as a means to manage your expectations. The best bond agents are usually bilingual, have a proven track record, and come highly recommended by immigration lawyers. They’ll also be licensed and insured, which is always something to look out for.
We’re Here for You
Don’t leave your loved ones sitting in a detention center. Let our licensed and experienced team help you through the US immigration bond process. Contact us now for a free consultation.