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Blandon Law Immigration

Friday, April 23, 2010

Voluntary Departure Instead of Deportation

     Although the decision whether to risk deportation or apply for Voluntary Departure (VD) must be considered carefully, the latter might be part of a grander strategy for a foreigner to leave the U.S., obtain a visa abroad, and return to the country legally. VD avoids a deportation order, which punishes the foreigner with a definite period of years during which a she cannot return to the U.S. -- even if, for example, she is married to a U.S. citizen or has an employer willing to petition her.
      Either the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or an Immigration Judge (IJ) can grant VD.  DHS may grant VD up to a total of 120 days to a foreigner who agrees to depart the United States at her own expense.
     Once the foreigner has been caught and placed in removal proceedings, an IJ can grant Voluntary Departure either before the master hearing or at the merits hearing. If it is granted prior to the completion of proceedings, the IJ can grant up to 120 days. The foreign national must request no other relief, concede removability, and waive appeal.
     A foreigner may also apply for VD at the conclusion of a Removal Hearing. In that case, however, the Immigration Judge may grant no more than 60 days and the foreign national must meet certain conditions. The foreign national must have been physically present in the United States for at least one year before the issuance of the Notice To Appear (which begins removal proceedings), must be a person of good moral character for at least five years, must post a bond, must have the ability to leave at her own expense, and must not be deportable as an aggravated felon.
     An immigration professional will advise whether and when a foreigner should apply for VD. Never replace professional advice with the oral suggestions made by a DHS official or even an Immigration Judge.

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