Voluntary departure permits an alien in removal proceedings a certain amount of time to leave the United States at his or her own expense, instead of being removed by the government. This is a very important benefit which an alien in removal proceedings should always consider since under the law, an alien who is physically removed by the government is inadmissible and may not return to the U.S. for up to 10 years. It also allows the alien to avoid the unpleasantness of being detained and taken handcuffed to the airport and placed on a ConAir flight back home.
Voluntary departure is not automatic. Even if an alien qualifies, it is still up to the Immigration Judge to decide whether the alien should be granted voluntary departure and how much time will be given to depart. Whether an alien is able to ask for voluntary departure generally depends on when he or she asks for before or after the conclusion of the removal proceeding. If the alien asks for voluntary departure before the conclusion of the proceeding, the alien must show that he or she is not an aggravated felon or a terrorist, and will be able to get a grant of voluntary departure for up to 120 days.
If the alien asks for voluntary departure at the end of the removal proceeding, it is a bit more complicated and requires that the alien also show that he or she is willing and has the financial ability to depart at his or her own expense, was present in the United States for at least a year prior to being served with a Notice to Appear, and is and has been a person of good moral character during the last five years. This means that aliens who have been convicted or have admitted to committing certain crimes will not be eligible for voluntary departure at the end of proceedings. If the alien qualifies, the Immigration Judge can grant up to 60 days voluntary departure. The Immigration Judge can also require that the alien to post a voluntary departure bond, which usually must be paid within 5 days of the grant of voluntary departure.
If you have any questions, contact South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel at (954) 385-3111.