Voluntary Departure

Voluntary departure is a legal term used in immigration law to refer to a situation in which an individual who is subject to removal (deportation) from a country voluntarily chooses to leave the country on their own accord and at their own expense, without the need for an official deportation order or enforcement action by immigration authorities.


Key aspects of voluntary departure include:


  1. Requested by the individual: Voluntary departure is typically initiated by the individual who is facing removal proceedings. They may choose to request voluntary departure as an alternative to being formally deported, either because they wish to leave the country voluntarily to avoid the consequences of deportation or because they believe it is in their best interest to depart voluntarily.
  2. Granted by immigration authorities: Immigration authorities have the discretion to grant or deny requests for voluntary departure based on factors such as the individual’s immigration history, criminal record, ties to the community, cooperation with immigration authorities, and willingness and ability to depart the country voluntarily within a specified period.
  3. Conditions and consequences: Individuals granted voluntary departure are usually required to comply with certain conditions, such as departing the country by a specified deadline, surrendering any valid travel documents or identification, and refraining from reentering the country illegally or violating any immigration laws in the future. Failure to comply with the conditions of voluntary departure may result in penalties, such as being barred from reentering the country for a specified period or facing more severe consequences in future immigration proceedings.
  4. Benefits and implications: Voluntary departure may offer certain benefits compared to formal deportation, including avoiding the stigma and legal consequences associated with deportation, retaining the ability to return to the country legally in the future, and potentially avoiding mandatory bars to reentry that may apply to individuals who have been formally deported. However, voluntary departure may also involve practical and logistical challenges, such as arranging for transportation, securing travel documents, and addressing any personal or financial issues related to departure.

Overall, voluntary departure provides individuals facing removal proceedings with an opportunity to depart the country on their own terms and avoid the negative consequences of formal deportation, while also allowing immigration authorities to facilitate the orderly departure of individuals who are ineligible to remain in the country under immigration law.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Voluntary Departure?

Voluntary Departure is a legal option available to individuals who are facing deportation proceedings in the United States. It allows them to leave the country voluntarily, rather than being forcibly removed by immigration authorities.

Who is eligible for Voluntary Departure?

Eligibility for Voluntary Departure varies depending on individual circumstances and immigration laws. Generally, individuals who are in deportation proceedings, have not committed certain crimes, and can demonstrate the ability to pay for their own departure expenses may be eligible.

How is Voluntary Departure different from deportation?

While both involve leaving the country, Voluntary Departure allows individuals to depart on their own terms and may have fewer negative consequences for future immigration options compared to deportation. Additionally, individuals who receive Voluntary Departure may be able to return to the U.S. legally in the future.

What are the benefits of choosing Voluntary Departure?

Choosing Voluntary Departure can have several benefits, including avoiding the stigma and potential penalties associated with deportation, maintaining the ability to apply for certain visas or immigration benefits in the future, and having more control over the timing and circumstances of departure.

How can someone apply for Voluntary Departure?

To apply for Voluntary Departure, individuals typically need to request it during their immigration court proceedings or through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They may need to provide evidence of eligibility and may be required to attend a hearing before a judge to determine whether they qualify. It's advisable to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance through the application process.
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