Each year, tens of thousands of immigration detainees are released from custody on an immigration bond. To find out if you are eligible for an immigration bond, or to get the lowest bond possible, it is wise to discuss your case with an immigration attorney experienced in handling deportation cases. Below is a brief overview of immigration bonds, bond eligibility, and ways to apply for bonds.
Eligibility For Release On An Immigration Bond
To be eligible for an immigration bond, you must meet certain criteria. First, you cannot have committed or been convicted of certain types of serious crimes. Second, you must not be an arriving alien — a person who is applying for admission at a port-of-entry. When you have a history of arrests and/or convictions, it is important that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney about whether past offenses or convictions will bar you from getting an immigration bond. Bear in mind that even expunged or dismissed convictions can have immigration consequences. Also, if you don’t think you are eligible for release on bond, it is often still worth it to request a bond hearing.
How To Apply For An Immigration Bond
Even if you are eligible for an immigration bond, it is still up to ICE and the immigration judge on whether to give you one.
In applying for a bond, the first step should be to check whether ICE has already set a bond amount for the person’s release. Often ICE will initially set the case at a “no bond,” especially when the person has a history of arrests or convictions.
If ICE has not set a bond, or if ICE has set one that is too high, your attorney can ask ICE to set a reasonable bond. With the request, the attorney can submit documentary evidence to show that the person is not a danger to persons or property, and does not pose a significant flight risk.
If ICE still does not set a bond, or sets one that is too high, you or your attorney can file a request for a bond hearing with an immigration judge. The immigration court will attempt to schedule the bond hearing as quickly as possible, though it usually takes 1-2 weeks At the bond hearing, the immigration judge may begin by addressing preliminary issues, like whether the detainee is even eligible for a bond. Afterwards, the immigration judge will consider any evidence bearing on whether the person is a flight risk or danger to society. If it is available, the immigration attorney should present evidence that demonstrates the detainee lacks a serious criminal history, is financially stable, has strong family and community ties in the United States, has stayed here for many years, lacks a history of immigration violations, and has attended court in the past. The attorney can also attempt to negotiate a bond amount with ICE prior to the bond hearing.
Getting a immigration bond (at a reasonable amount) is difficult to do on one’s own, and it is recommended that detainees have legal representation in challenging ICE custody decisions. Because there are limited opportunities to get an immigration bond, mistakes are often irreversible.