Being detained, regardless of the circumstance, is never fun and almost always a bit nerve-racking. Being detained when you’re a non-citizen only serves to increase the fear and uncertainty.
If someone you love has been detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), he or she may be eligible for immigration bond.
Many detainees aren’t aware of these bonds, and of those that are; few actually understand how they work. Immigration bonds work similar to standard bonds, although the red tape is a bit thicker due to the added circumstance of alien status. So, while immigration bonds may be somewhat unique, they’re not impossible to understand and receive.
All you need is a little knowledge and clarity.
What is an Immigration Bond?
An immigration bond is simply a bail, paid by a 3rd party other than the detainee, which allows the immigrant to be released from detention.
Similar to a standard bond, immigration bonds allow the detainee to be released while their immigration case is still pending. It’s no secret that immigration cases can take several months and it’s simply not always reasonable to keep a non-citizen detained for that long. The bond allows the detainee to be released while simultaneously securing their cooperation when they’re called to appear before an immigration judge.
It’s important to note here that an immigration bond does not relieve the non-citizen of accountability for their actions. There is still a possibility that the non-citizen will be removed or deported from the country. The point is that the bond allows the non-citizen to be reunited with their family, continue working, and, most importantly, seek legal counsel to help them prepare for their pending case.
Who is Eligible?
Probably the most critical difference between a standard bond and an immigration bond is that eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Rather than discuss all of the ways in which a non-citizen may be eligible for an immigration bond, it’s easier to note the circumstances that will render a non-citizen ineligible.
DHS will determine that a detainee is ineligible for an immigration bond if they meet any of the following criteria:
- They have previously been ordered to be deported.
- They are a flight risk, and will evade immigration proceedings.
- They pose a danger to the community.
- They pose a threat to national security.
- Their criminal record contains certain convictions, such as felonies or series serious misdemeanors.
If a loved one has been detained, and you’re unsure of their eligibility for an immigration bond, call our law office for a free consultation.
Immigration Bond Procedures
When a non-citizen is detained, the DHS will determine if the alien is eligible for bond.
If, DHS finds that a non-citizen is eligible, a bond amount will be set and can generally be paid within the week.
However, if DHS finds that the alien is not eligible for bond, or they set the bond too high, the detainee can request an bond redetermination hearing before an immigration judge.
Judges have discretion when determining bond amounts. If the detainee can prove that they’re not a flight risk, a danger to the community, and have a stable and qualifying address when released, bond maybe granted.
If past crimes or an existing criminal record are the issue, the non-citizen can make a case that they have been rehabilitated by showing the judge proof of a stable work history, continued periods of time without any criminal convictions, family life, community work, etc. If you or a loved one are facing an immigration hearing, you’re advised to seek legal counsel from an experienced immigration attorney who can help you prepare a much stronger case.
Immigration judges can also be persuaded to grant bond if the detainee has relief from removal. In other words, if the detainee has a strong case against removal, the judge will be more likely to grant bond.
Who Can Pay the Bond?
Similar to standard bonds, non-citizens who qualify for bond can enlist the help of any 3rd party, known as the obligor, who has legal status in the United States. Generally, this is a family member or friend.
Additionally, immigration bonds can be paid through a bondsman. Not all bondsmen will pay an immigration bond, and they generally come with high interest rates, but if friends or family aren’t an option, bondsmen can often be an effective last resort.
How to Pay the Bond
The individual posting bond should make an appointment with the local DHS office. It’s not advised that you attempt to pay an immigration bond without an appointment as these offices are always busy, and regularly overwhelmed, so an appointment is the only way to ensure that you’ll be seen and taken care of in a timely manner.
If an individual is paying, such as a parent, boyfriend, neighbor, etc., they must bring their original social security card and a valid photo ID. Again, it’s important to remember that a non-citizen cannot pay an immigration bond for you.
Bonds cannot be paid for in cash or personal check. A cashier’s check or money order are generally the safest forms and most accepted forms of payment. The cashier’s check should be made out to the Department of Homeland Security.
Once the bond is successfully paid and processed, the detention facility will be notified by DHS that the detained non-citizen should be released. The detainee is generally released the same day that bond is posted, although individual facilities may vary depending on circumstances and other variables.
A good bondsman will know exactly how to pay an immigration bond and will be familiar with all of these procedures.
After the Bond is Paid
Once you’ve posted bond, it’s critical to remember that you’re not off the hook. You must attend all scheduled immigration hearings and meetings with DHS officials and representatives. Failure to meet your obligations is likely to result in forfeiture of the bond paid, future detention, and a possible removal order.
If someone you love is detained by DHS, contact our offices immediately. Not only can we help with detention and immigration bond, but we can help prepare a solid case for your love one’s continued presence in the U.S. as well as provide guidance and counsel on the next steps, what to expect at your hearing, alternative options and concrete solutions to your relatives immigration challenges.
Our immigration lawyers can help you and your loved ones to request a bond redetermination hearing, provide a packet in defense of a fair bond, and provide guidance on how to make the most of the opportunity.