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Voluntary departure refers to the departure of an immigrant from the United States without an order of removal. The departure may or may not be preceded by a hearing before an immigration judge. When an immigrant is allowed to depart from the country voluntarily, they concede removability, but they are not barred from seeking admission at a port-of-entry at any time. If an immigrant does not depart during the time specified as allowed by the immigration judge, they may receive a fine and could be barred from several forms of deportation relief for ten years.

If you are a non-citizen apprehended by immigration authorities, and it is clear that you have no right to be in the country, there are two means of removal: an order of removal or a discretionary grant of voluntary departure. Which option you choose could have a significant effect on your rights to return to the U.S. in the future.

Does an Immigrant Benefit from Voluntary Deportation?

When an immigrant receives an order of removal, an immigration judge has found that they have no right to remain in the United States. This most likely means the court found the immigrant to be inadmissible (in a category of people who are not granted entry to the U.S.) or deportable (in a group of people who, despite having had a right to be in the U.S., has done something that allows the judge to take that right away).

If you are an immigrant and you are ordered removed by the court, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is required to physically remove you from the country within 90 days from the date the order becomes final. If you have been found to have committed certain types of crimes, you may be held in detention without bond or other pre-removal condition of release during the 90 day period. Once ICE fulfills the order of removal, you are not allowed to return to the United States – you are effectively “inadmissible” for years (the exact length of time depends on the reason for deportation, but in most instances, the term is ten years).

Voluntary departure means you have to leave the country on your own within a determined amount of time. Immigrants facing deportation can request a voluntary departure from ICE (even before court proceedings) or the immigration judge. As a “discretionary form of relief,” the applicant is not necessarily entitled to it. Voluntary departures offer two benefits: the dignity of arranging for your own departure without being forced to leave by immigration agents, and the possibility of returning to the United States in the future. The voluntary departure does not lead to a period of inadmissibility based on a previous order of deportation.

Before deciding between voluntary departure and an order of removal, contact an experienced U.S. immigration attorney so you can be sure that all other possibilities for staying in the U.S. have been exhausted. Get in touch with Aronow Law PC today.