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Voluntary Departure

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Should You Leave The U.S. Voluntarily? Talk To A Lawyer First.

Many people living in the U.S. without proper documentation hope to stay here as long as possible. This is a natural desire — but not always possible. With time, many undocumented aliens or visitors with expired visas come to realize there is little possibility of getting a proper work visa or green card.

If you are undocumented or out of status, you do not have authorization to stay through work or family connections and you do not qualify for asylum, you may decide it is best to leave voluntarily. You may choose to return to your country or another country.

“Leave voluntarily?” This idea may sound frightening or surprising, because it is not a popular decision. Benefits include several opportunities:

  • You may avoid deportation through forcible removal. The idea of “voluntary” departure is more attractive to many people than the possibility of apprehension (arrest) by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • You can choose your destination and will have advance warning as to when you will leave. With a travel plan and scheduled departure date, you will not likely be apprehended by ICE. Instead, you can avoid detention and leave in a calm and orderly manner.
  • You may be able to return to the U.S. eventually if you have a legal opportunity to immigrate properly. (If you are deported, you may be banned from re-entry).

Voluntary departure does carry responsibilities such as:

  • You must have your own travel document (like a passport from your birth country) and pay for your own plane or bus ticket.
  • You must demonstrate good character for the past five years or more (with no criminal record, for example).
  • You may be asked to pay a $500 bond within a few days after a judge grants you the right to leave voluntarily at a removal hearing.

Caution: Do Not Try To Solve Your Own Immigration Puzzles Without An Attorney’s Advice

It is good to have ideas about how to move forward if you are undocumented or your visa has expired. However, our California immigration law firm also recommends that you get legal counsel as soon as possible. For best results, do not communicate with immigration authorities (such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) before you talk to a lawyer about your unique circumstances. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, please email us or call our Corona office at . We offer evening and weekend appointments. Our fee rates are competitive. We accept credit cards. Se habla español.

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