The Global Detention Project identifies over 2,000 immigration detention facilities in over 100 countries, making immigration an issue of worldwide importance.
Texas, California, Arizona, Georgia, and Louisiana are the top five detention states, with 33,108 total detainees. This is a financial issue as well, with Washington and California alone spending $145 per person daily.
Immigration becomes a personal issue when a loved one is detained. Paying an immigration bail bond is one of the best ways to release them from custody, but it requires understanding immigration bond requirements.
Our guide provides 10 of the most important things to know about immigration bonds and whether or not your loved one is eligible for one.
#1: Bail and Bonds Are Not the Same
The terms bail and bond are often confused, but they are not identical. Knowing the difference between the two is an important part of understanding what an immigration bond is.
The primary difference between a bail and bond is who is required to pay. The accused must pay their own bail to be released from custody. A bond is the responsibility of a third party like a family member or bond agency.
#2: Immigration Bail Bond Amounts Vary
The law defends against courts setting unreasonably high bails and bonds. What counts as “unreasonable” depends on the case.
There are numerous factors that affect how high an immigration bond payment will be. They typically relate to the accused’s flight risk and level of participation in their community.
Paperwork is an important factor in keeping bail bond amounts low. Anything that establishes the accused’s credibility can help. Personal letters from family and friends, children’s birth certificates, and proof of community participation are all useful tools in a bond hearing.
#3: Not Everyone is Eligible for a Bond
Immigration bond requirements determine whether a detainee is eligible to be released on bond. There are certain circumstances in which they may not be able to even receive a bond hearing.
Convictions for certain crimes make an individual ineligible for an immigration bail bond. Prostitution, drug trafficking, and aggravated felonies are a few examples.
#4: There Are Exceptions to Immigration Bond Requirements
For every rule, there is an exception. Certain circumstances can allow someone who may not otherwise be eligible for an immigration bail bond to apply.
The petty offense exception applies to crimes committed over 5 years ago, when the accused was under 18, or with a sentence of less than 6 months. The drug offense exception applies to crimes of simple possession, such as getting caught with a small amount of marijuana. These exceptions ensure that such minor crimes don’t disqualify the accused from receiving a bond.
Knowing the exceptions to the rules outlined in immigration bond requirements is essential. It can be a powerful tool in immigration bond hearings to prevent the accused from being unfairly denied a bail bond.
#5: The ABC Class
The ABC class is a protected class of individuals who cannot be detained for immigration-related issues. Anyone who falls into this category is not only eligible for a bond but for release from custody as well.
Immigrants from El Salvador and Guatemala who filed for political asylum during the accepted time period may be members of the ABC class. They are protected from being detained except in specific circumstances.
An individual in the ABC class can only be detained in an immigration facility if they are convicted of an aggravated felony, major crime, or deemed a threat to public safety. Knowing whether or not the accused fits into this class can be a powerful asset in any immigration case.
#6: Someone Else Must Pay the Bond
There are numerous types of crimes where someone can be released on a bail bond, but they all have certain elements in common. One factor is that the person being detained usually cannot pay the bond themselves.
A detainee must find someone else to pay their immigration bond for them. This should be someone that the individual trusts to complete the process accurately and safely.
The legal term for the person paying an immigration bail bond is an obligor, and they can be any United States Citizen who is at least 18 years of age.
#7: A Bond is an Agreement to Attend Future Hearings
Another thing that all types of bail bonds have in common is that they are an agreement between the accused and the court. Bail bonds for immigration serve as proof that the accused will attend any future court hearings relating to their case.
If the detainee does attend every hearing and follows the court’s terms, the person who posted the bond typically gets their money back. This also applies when the accused loses their immigration case and is eventually deported.
#8: Only Certain Payment Methods are Accepted
Cash bonds requiring paper money do exist and may be used for immigration cases in some circumstances. Other methods of immigration bond payment are usually preferred, and they must be done at a specific location.
A certified check or money order is more official and secure than cash, making it the preferred method of payment.
The obligor must take their immigration bond payment to the local ICE office. It’s best to call ahead to check what the preferred payment methods are. It is also better to arrive early, as the process can take hours.
#9: Required Paperwork
Court proceedings require a lot of paperwork, and immigration bond hearings are no different. Preparing the required documents ahead of time is necessary to get the desired results.
A single piece of paper can be the difference between winning and losing an immigration bond hearing. As previously mentioned, documents proving that the detainee is not a flight risk and has ties to the community always help. It’s also important to provide proof of a full, permanent address, as the judge cannot release the accused without knowing where they live.
There are numerous papers an obligor needs to bring when posting the bond in order to confirm their identity and complete the process. These include an Employment Authorization Document, birth certificate, proof of residence, and valid driver’s license.
Making multiple copies of all necessary paperwork is best in any circumstance, but especially in something as important as an immigration bond hearing. Many different individuals will usually need a copy throughout the hearing, such as the judge and defense attorneys. Duplicating documents also makes sure there’s an extra available if the original gets lost.
See our blog post for a full list of what to bring to an immigration bond hearing.
Many individuals detained in immigration centers cannot speak or write in English. Most detainees are from Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. This language barrier does not make them ineligible for a bond.
As long as a non-English speaking detainee knows someone who can translate for them and supplies the appropriate paperwork, they can apply for a bond like anyone else. They must turn in the original documents and their translated counterparts. Each document also requires an accompanying Certificate of Translation to prove its accuracy.
Judges are not allowed to read materials written in another language. The world’s most convincing letter won’t help at an immigration bond hearing if it’s in Spanish. That is why it is important to find a trusted individual to translate all necessary paperwork.
Need an Immigration Bond?
Immigration bond requirements change and differ in each state. That is why it is essential to find a dedicated, knowledgeable team to handle a case.