Immigration is a hot topic in the United States, not least because of the increasing prevalence of ICE raids across the nation.
If you or someone you love is picked up by ICE, you find yourself in detention. But you don’t necessarily have to stay there.
Just as bail exists in the criminal court system, so too does it dominate immigration courtrooms. You can apply for an immigration bond to get out of detention.
Everyone should know how immigration bonds work – just in case the worst happens. Keep reading to learn more about the bail system and how to apply for a bond.
What is an Immigration Bond?
An immigration bond is a type of bail bond provided for immigration arrests. A bond allows you (or your family member) to exchange cash in exchange for a promise of behavior on behalf of the detained person.
Immigration bonds are formally known as ICE Form I-352, and anyone detained by ICE can apply. However, it is ultimately up to the immigration court to grant the bond.
Four Types of Immigration Bond
Immigration bonds come in four forms.
A delivery immigration bond promises that you will remain in the country and attend all scheduled court hearings. If you don’t, then you forfeit the bond. It usually also requires that you follow deportation proceedings if they begin.
A public safety bond reimburses government fees if you go on a form of public assistance.
Voluntary departure bonds come with a different stipulation: you can use the bond to leave detention and then voluntarily leave the country within a set timeframe (usually 30 days).
Finally, the order of supervisions bond sets out a list of conditions and requires the detained person to surrender to removal.
This useful link provides more information on bail bond types.
How to Apply for an Immigration Bond
ICE typically assigns each detainee a bond amount by 2:00 PM on the day of their arrival. After you receive your bond amount, you can call a trusted person to let them know how much you need. Keep in mind: an immigration bond must be paid in full before you can leave detention.
In some cases, ICE may give you paperwork that says “no bond.”
The agent may do this because:
♦ They deemed you a danger to the community
♦ They consider you a flight risk
♦ They believe you to be uncooperative
Detainees report being denied an initial bond because they have a criminal record, a record of deportation, or they won’t speak to the agents handling their case.
The ICE agent’s decision isn’t the final word on the matter. You can still apply for an immigration bond from a judge.
Asking for a Bond from the Judge
If you receive a bond that is too high or a “no bond” status, you can appeal it with an immigration judge.
Bond hearings and deportation hearings are two separate lines of inquiry. According to immigration lawyers, you should request a bond hearing at your first deportation hearing.
You need to do this even though the judge who presides over your bond case will also take your deportation case.
Most bond hearings are scheduled within days or weeks.
You can also write the judge presiding over your case a letter before your first hearing. You must include your name and A-number with your request.
If you receive your hearing within days but you are still gathering evidence, you can reschedule the hearing to extend the time you have to prepare. Although detention is painful, you need all the evidence available if you want a successful bond hearing.
Bring These Documents to Your Hearing
The most important documents for your immigration bond hearing are your sponsor letters.
If a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident is willing to sponsor you, they must write a letter stating their status, how you know each other, and how they will support you upon release.
You should also provide other documentation demonstrating your ties to the community and your status as a law-abiding member of society.
The documents used for your deportation hearings may also aid you here. Some ideal materials include:
♦ Evidence qualifying you for relief from deportation
♦ Proof of close relatives having legal status
♦ Letters from people who know you
♦ Financial reports and evidence of support for your family
♦ Tax records
♦ Medical records
Any time you use a letter, make sure the writer also includes a copy of the ID with the letter.
You also need three copies of everything you submit to the judge. You keep one, and the government attorney and judge keep the other two.
How to Get Your Money Back
The only way to get your money back from an immigration bond is to follow your release guidelines to the letter.
Unfortunately for many families, the process usually ends with deportation.
After the bonded person meets all the written conditions attached to the bond, ICE then sends Form I-391 to the person who took out the bond. Form I-391 is the bond cancellation form. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also receives a copy.
Because immigration proceedings often take years, you may have moved between the time you paid the bond and the conclusion of the case. If you can, check your old address for the paperwork.
You must then send the form along with Form I-305, the original bond receipt, to the DHS’s Debt Management Center. They already have a copy of your cancellation.
If your Form I-305 is long gone, you can use Form I-395 instead. You must print it and have it notarized and send it along with Forms I-391 and I-352 to the Debt Management Center.
It then takes a few months for DHS to finish processing your bond (and interest) and send you the refund.
Do You Know Your Rights?
Immigration remains a hot button issue in the United States, and it is unlikely to go away any time soon.
If you or a family member get arrested by ICE, detention isn’t a given. Immigration bonds allow you to go home while you go through the deportation process.
Are you interested in immigration policy? Read more on this and other hot topics in my Politics archive.
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