Removal proceedings are one of the most terrifying situations a person can experience, especially if you have family and friends in the United States. If your visa is expired or if you find yourself otherwise ineligible to stay in the U.S., there are steps you can take to make your life easier, even if you cannot stay in the country. Sometimes, your attorney may advise you to accept voluntary departure, to make things easier at a later date.
Voluntary departure is a process in which a foreign national voluntarily leaves the country, either without an order of removal being issued at all, or, if given the option, before a final order of removal is issued. It is an option for those who are appearing before an immigration judge, and do not think they will win the right to stay in the United States.
Usually, if voluntary departure is granted, you will be given 120 days to wind up your affairs and depart. There is a provision in the law, however, which allows a waiver of the 120 days if the foreign national is receiving medical treatment in the country.
There are a few reasons why voluntary departure is a good idea. The primary reason is that if you are issued a final removal order from an immigration judge, you may be subject to a bar on re-entering the United States for up to ten years, depending on the circumstances of your case. If you voluntarily depart before any order goes on the books, you will not have an automatic bar.
Eligibility for voluntary departure is usually determined by a set of criteria, depending on when you ask for it. The criteria are different if you request voluntary departure before, during, or after removal proceedings.
If you request voluntary departure before the beginning of removal proceedings, you must:
Waive all other possible requests for relief;
Waive any appeal of any issue;
Not have been convicted of any aggravated felony or be any security risk; and
Show you have the financial ability to voluntarily depart.
Voluntary departure granted before a hearing usually provides 120 days before an applicant is required to leave. If you request voluntary departure during or after removal proceedings, when USCIS has already gone to the trouble of conducting a hearing, the requirements are different. After a hearing, you must:
Show clear and convincing evidence that you have the financial ability and intent to depart;
Pay a bond (usually $500 if required);
Show you had good moral character for the five years before the application; and
Prove you have a valid travel document in order to return to your home country.
If voluntary departure is granted after a hearing, it usually only grants 60 days before an applicant must depart, and is usually at the foreign national’s own expense.
If you are in need of more information on voluntary departure, we can help. Please contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC in DuPage County, IL today.
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