Voluntary Departure: Is It Good To Voluntarily Agree to Getting Deported?

Foreigners who are facing removal proceedings (deportation) and have no legal means of remaining in the United States, might be eligible to request the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or an Immigration Judge to grant them the opportunity to leave the country voluntarily and at their own expense. Willingly choosing to leave the U.S. simply helps to avoid the stain of a removal order on your travel immigration record. This common form of relief from removal is called "voluntary departure." (See 8 U.S.C. § 1229c).

What is a Voluntary Departure?

Voluntary Departure is also known as “voluntary return” allows a person to leave the U.S. at his or her expense and helps avoid several of the immigration repercussions linked with being deported. A voluntary departure can be requested either from:

  • The DHS before appearing in an immigration court (the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR))
  • An immigration judge at your first appearance in court or after immigration court proceedings

What Makes You Qualify for Voluntary Departure

An immigration judge has the authority to grant an order of voluntary departure at the first hearing or during the court proceedings and the DHS has the power to allow someone to voluntarily depart before starting court proceedings.

The minimal requirements for obtaining permission to depart from DHS or an immigration judge at the first hearing (the “master calendar”) are that you must have no aggravated felony or any other convictions. The DHS or the immigration judge must also believe that you intend to depart the U.S. and are not using this opportunity to evade the DHS.

After you have been found removable, it will be more challenging to qualify for voluntary departure. After requesting a voluntary departure the immigration judge handling your case will consider all of the factual supporting evidence and your demeanor during the hearing as well as whether you are deemed as deserving of a voluntary departure.

Are There Benefits of a Voluntary Departure?

Departing the U.S. voluntarily has some benefits like; the freedom to arrange your departure yourself without being escorted out of the U.S. by government officers. Additionally, any time a foreign national is deported from the U.S. a bar to reenter is enforced. This prohibits the deported individual from reentering the U.S. for several years. While other reasons for removal (such as an aggravated felony or fraudulent activity) will carry a lifetime bar to reentering the country. The standard bars to reentry are:

  • Five years when the removal occurred immediately upon the person attempting to enter the U.S. (expedited removal) or
  • Ten years when the order of removal was issued by an immigration judge

If a person attempts to reenter the U.S. without permission before a bar to reentry expires, grave consequences will result, such as a hefty fine, imprisonment, or maybe both. A voluntary departure eliminates the bar to reentry and other potential consequences that may emerge with an order of removal. While a voluntary departure seems quite simple, do not decide before consulting with an immigration lawyer.

When Is the Best Time to Retain an Immigration Attorney?

As soon as you have received a deportation order from an immigration officer, hire an immigration lawyer to discuss your eligibility for a voluntary departure. Contact Gambacorta Law Office at 847 443 9303 and our attorneys will gladly fight your case.