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What Is an Immigration Bail Bond and How Do They Work?

Immigration bonds, as their name indicates, are issued by courts in immigration cases. They allow arrested individuals to leave police custody and continue on with their normal lives until their court date. If you hold a steady job and have a family to take care of, an immigration bond is a way to make sure that you can still do so while your immigration status is processed by the courts. 

Because of the complexity of America’s immigration system, immigration bail bonds are also somewhat complicated. They are not the same as criminal bonds, as immigration cases are not processed by the police, but by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The following guide will outline the basics of how the immigration bond system works. 

What is an Immigration Bail Bond?

An immigration bail bond is a type of court-issued bond in an immigration case. A defendant that has been arrested for violating immigration laws can post a bond, which is a substantial sum of money, to the court. In exchange, the court releases them, and the court will return the bond once they show up for their court date. 

The bond effectively ensures against defendants leaving town. If you don’t show up to the court date, the bond is lost, and the court will also likely issue a warrant for your arrest. The court can add additional charges to your case if you skip bail. 

How Do Immigration Bail Bonds Work?

There are two main types of immigration bail bonds: A delivery bond and a voluntary departure bond. 

A delivery bond is like a standard criminal hearing bond. An arrested individual is allowed to leave ICE custody in exchange for the bond. They have to show up to their court date, or else the bond is taken by the court. 

A voluntary departure bond, on the other hand, is a type of bond unique to immigration cases. These types of bonds release you from ICE custody, but instead of coming back for a court date, you have to leave the country. A certain amount of time is allowed for you to get your things together – however, you won’t get the bond back until you have left the country. 

How to Pay for an Immigration Bond

The exact immigration bond cost will depend on a couple of factors. The court will set the bond depending on the state guidelines, and the larger a flight risk a defendant poses, the higher the bond amount. 

In some cases, the bond can be quite high, up to $30,000. These cases are outliers, however, and may not be your experience. 

There are two ways that you can pay for a bail bond. You can do so yourself, paying the complete amount to the court and getting it all back once you either show up to your hearing date or leave the country. However, this is not an option for most people, especially if the bond amount is several hundred or thousand dollars.

You should be aware that only a permanent resident or American citizen can post an immigration bond. This means that if you have family members in the US that are in the process of becoming citizens, or are here illegally, they won’t be able to post bond for you. 

In this case, you should talk to a bond agent for a surety bond. In this event, the bond agent will charge you a certain amount, usually a percentage of the bond itself. You won’t be able to get that money back, but you also won’t have to front the full cost of the bill.

Necessarily, there will be additional fees and penalties if you take out a surety bond and fail to pay it back, which can include more charges. 

You should keep in mind that if a bond amount has been set for your case, you can plead to have it lowered if it is out of reach for you financially. You’ll have to explain to a judge why the court should grant you a lower bond. You’ll have to request a bond hearing in writing, and you’ll need to prove that you are not a danger to society and that you will show up to future hearings in your immigration case. 

Do You Qualify for an Immigration Bond?

Most people arrested by ICE will qualify for an immigration bond. There are only a few reasons why you would not.

The first, and the most obvious, is if you have a prior criminal record. The court will deem someone who has a history of crime, especially violent crime, as high-risk by the court, and will not release them. The second is if ICE stopped you at the US border before entering the country, in which case you are a flight risk. 

In almost every other case, unless there are unique circumstances that apply to you, you should be able to apply for an immigration bail bond. 

Find an Immigration Lawyer to Help Your Case

If you or someone you know has been arrested by ICE, you need to get in touch with an immigration lawyer right away. They can help guide you through the process of applying for an immigration bail bond, and navigate your coming immigration hearing. Getting a lawyer early can help ensure that you or your family is able to stay in the United States.

For more information about immigration cases, and other legal troubles that you may have, check out the Attorneys & Legal section of our site.