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The good and the bad of a voluntary departure

Immigrants in North Carolina are often confronted with difficult legal decisions. This is particularly true for those who are facing deportation and removal proceedings. Those in this situation may feel they have few options available, but that simply isn't true. Help is available to fight against deportation or, if desired, apply for a voluntary departure.

An application for voluntary departure is generally only considered as a last resort, used after all other legal options to fight deportation have been exhausted. There are both benefits and disadvantages to utilizing a voluntary departure. The benefits include avoiding penalties associated with a formal removal order, such as fines or a temporary or permanent ban from re-entry. The main disadvantage, though, is it can make it difficult for those who were in the United States illegally before departure to be allowed re-admission.

After a petition for voluntary departure is filed, the filer will have a set number of days to post bond and make their departure. Bond amounts may vary and, depending upon when a petition is filed, the filer will typically be granted anywhere from 60 to 120 days to leave the country. A voluntary departure order can be terminated if any of the following events occur:

  • A petition to review the case is submitted
  • An appeal is requested
  • Bond is not posted

If a voluntary departure is sought but the filer fails to leave the country, serious penalties may result, including fines and the inability to apply for other immigration status changes or relief for a minimum of 10 years. As with most immigration issues, the application for voluntary departure may not be as straightforward as one would expect. For North Carolina residents who are considering a voluntary departure, help is available to ensure any questions are answered and all legal options have been fully considered before making this decision.

Source: FindLaw, "Voluntary Departure", Nov. 14, 2014

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