A Brief Q&A on Voluntary Departure

By Ruth Jean

When you are facing the possibility of deportation from the U.S., the ideal outcome is any form of relief that would allow you to remain in the United States and adjust your status here.  However, that is not always possible.  When there is no other relief available,  you can request voluntary departure, meaning that you leave the country voluntarily by a certain time. Below is an overview of what voluntary departure is and how it may be able to benefit your immigration case.

Q. What is the advantage of voluntary departure?
A. If you have an order of removal (deportation), you cannot generally return to the United States for 5, 10, or 20 years, depending on the circumstances. As you can imagine, this outcome can be devastating if you have a family in the U.S.

If you are granted voluntary departure before you have been unlawfully present for one year, you are not subjected to the three-year ban that normally results after an unlawful presence of more than 180 days. If you married a U.S. citizen during that time, they can engage an immigration attorney to help them petition for your return.

However, if you were unlawfully in the U.S. for a year or more, you cannot return for 10 years unless you get a waiver. You will definitely need assistance from an experienced Florida immigration attorney if you want to reunite with your family in the U.S.

Q. What if you request voluntary departure before the removal hearing?
A. If you request voluntary departure before proceedings begin, the Court may grant you up to 120 days to depart, you must concede that you are removable, request no other relief, and waive appeal. Under this situation, you are not required to prove Good Moral Character or the ability to pay for your departure. 

Q. What if you request voluntary departure after the hearing ends?
The eligibility requirements are stricter if you request voluntary departure after the hearing. You will have to show that you-

  • Have had good moral character for the last five years.
  • Are financially able to pay for your departure from the U.S. and intend to leave before the deadline.
  • Have a valid passport or travel document for the trip home.
  • Have not committed an aggravated felony or act of terrorism in the past.
  • Have never been refused voluntary departure before.

You must also be able to post a bond within five days of receiving the voluntary departure order.

Contact a Florida immigration attorney
If you are ineligible for any other form of immigration relief, voluntary departure may be a positive alternative to a deportation order.  At Jean Law Group, we will review your case, explore potential alternatives to removal, and help you seek voluntary departure if it will help you rejoin your loved ones more quickly. For more information, please contact attorney Ruth Jean.