Voluntary Departure from the United States

Purpose of Voluntary Departure

Removal – formally called deportation – is the name for the legal court proceeding through which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeks to remove a person from the United States.

Voluntary departure is the lowest level form of relief from removal. When you have no way of remaining in the United States, you should strongly consider voluntary departure.

Voluntary departure allows you to avoid a formal order of removal or deportation against you if you leave the United States at your own expense.

The advantage of voluntary departure is that no formal removal order will be entered against you, which may mean that you may be able to return to the United States sooner. If you are ordered removed from the United States, you are barred from returning for a number of years, depending on the basis for your removal (in certain limited cases, waivers are available to allow re-entry to the United States despite these bars).

The requirements for applying for voluntary departure depend on whether you apply for it before or after the master calendar hearing.

Voluntary Departure Before or at Master Calendar Hearing

To apply for voluntary departure before, or at the master calendar hearing, you must:

  • Waive and withdraw all other requests for relief;
  • Concede that you are removable from the United States;
  • Waive appeal of all issues; and
  • Not have been convicted of an aggravated felony and must not be a security risk.

If all of the above requirements are met, the Immigration Judge may grant a voluntary departure period of up to 120 days.

Voluntary Departure At Conclusion of Removal Proceeding

To apply for voluntary departure at the conclusion of removal proceedings, you must:

  • Show that you were physically present in the United States for one (1) year prior to the date your Notice to Appear was issued;
  • Show good moral character for five (5) years prior to your application for voluntary departure;
  • Present a valid passport or other travel document that shows lawful entry into your country, unless the Department of Homeland Security already has such a document or such document is not needed to return to the country of origin;
  • Show clear and convincing evidence of intent, and financial ability, to leave the United States; and
  • Pay a bond not less than $500 set by the Immigration Judge.

If all of the above requirements are met, the Immigration Judge may grant a voluntary departure period of up to 60 days. The Immigration Judge will set a bond. If the bond is not paid within five days, the voluntary departure order will be cancelled and a formal order of removal will be issued.

Failure to Depart United States After Deportation

The penalties for not departing on time are severe. If you fail to depart, you will be ineligible to apply for voluntary departure, change of status, adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, and registry for 10 years and may be subject to a fine up to $5,000.