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Immigration Bonds

Purpose of Immigration Bonds

A person that is in the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being detained and is called a detainee.

Not all detainees are allowed to be released on bond. Depending on their immigration status and/or criminal history, certain persons may be subject to mandatory detention. A person subject to mandatory detention must fight against deportation from inside detention.

Persons who think they are eligible for a bond but are unable to meet with an attorney should write to the Immigration Court and request a "Joseph Hearing" to show they do not meet the requirements for mandatory detention.

Like state and federal bonds, immigration bonds are designed to guarantee the appearance of the detainee at all hearings before the Immigration Court. Immigration bonds are immediately forfeited (given up) if the detainee does not appear for a required hearing.

Immigration Bond Hearings

Generally persons who are not "arriving aliens," criminals, or terrorists are allowed to apply for a bond.

Usually when you are taken into custody by ICE, your bond will be set by ICE. Sometimes ICE may release you on your own "recognizance." This means you do not have to pay a bond. Even if you did not have to pay a bond to be released, you must show up for all hearings before the Immigration Court.

If ICE does not set a bond for you, you can apply for a bond determination hearing with an Immigration Judge. You do not have to wait for ICE to issue a Notice to Appear (NTA)—you can apply for a bond as soon as you are taken into custody.

If ICE sets your bond in an amount that you think is too high, you can apply for a bond redetermination hearing with an Immigration Judge. But you should be careful in asking for this hearing—the Immigration Judge may reset your bond in an amount higher than the one set by ICE.

In determining the amount of your bond, the Immigration Judge usually looks at these things:

  • Your family ties in the United States;
  • Your criminal history;
  • Your employment;
  • Your financial ability to pay a bond;
  • Your membership in community organizations;
  • How you came to, and how long you have been in, the United States;
  • Whether you have committed any immoral acts or participated in subversive activities; and
  • Your eligibility for relief from removal.

The Immigration Judge is not allowed to set a bond below $1,500.00. This means that if a bond is set for you, it will be at least $1,500.00. After the Immigration Judge sets your bond (or decides that you are not eligible for bond), you may appeal the Immigration Judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

If, after your bond redetermination hearing, you still disagree with your bond amount, you can apply for another bond redetermination hearing. However, you can only apply for another bond redetermination hearing if your circumstances have significantly changed since your prior bond redetermination hearing.

Your bond case is separate from your immigration case. However, even if you get released on bond, you must show up for all hearings before the Immigration Court.

Options for Paying an Immigration Bond

There are two options for paying a bond for a detainee.

  1. Cash Bond – A cash bond may be paid directly to ICE. A cash bond must be paid by cash, money order, cashier’s check, or U.S. bonds or notes. After the detainee has attended all required hearings before the Immigration Court, the money is returned to the person who paid for the bond.
  2. Immigration Bondsman – The second option is to pay the bond by using the services of an immigration bondsman. The immigration bondsman charges a nonrefundable fee for handling the bond (the person paying the nonrefundable fee will not get the money back). Premiums (cost) for immigration bonds can range from 15 to 20 percent of the amount of the total bond amount set by the government. Usually the cost depends on the type of collateral used. Collateral is what is given to secure the bond. Examples of collateral include cars, homes, credit cards, and stocks.

Types of Immigration Bonds

The two types of immigration bonds are:

  1. Delivery Bond – A person that is arrested by ICE and issued a Warrant of Arrest (Form I-205) and a Notice of Custody Conditions (Form I-286) may be eligible for a delivery bond.
  2. Voluntary Departure Bond - If a person is granted Voluntary Departure, the person is allowed to depart the United States voluntarily after being placed in removal proceedings (or instead of being placed in removal proceedings). A person granted Voluntary Departure may have to post a bond to guarantee the person will depart the United States within the required time.
News and Resources

Legal Guides for Detainees and Their Families and Lawyers

How to Complain to Authorities about Detention Standard Violations and Related Abuses (PDF)

ABA Legal Guide for INS Detainees - How to Complain Effectively Step By Step (PDF)

ABA Legal Guide for INS Detainees - Actions for Personal Injury or Property Damage or Loss (PDF)

ABA Legal Guide for INS Detainees - Petitioning for Release From Indefinite Detention (PDF)

All About Bonds - The Florence Project (PDF)

Legal Aid Society - A Guide for Detainees and Their Families (PDF)

Organizations Fighting Immigration Detention and Detention Conditions

ACLU - Immigrants' Rights - Detention

Detention Watch Network

International Detention Coalition

TRAC Immigration - Aggravated Felonies and Deportation - June 6, 2006

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICE - Immigration Detention Facilities

ICE - Family Residential Standards

ICE Policy on Transfer of Detainees (PDF)

DHS - Office of Inspector General - Treatment of Immigration Detainees Housed at ICE Enforcement Facilities - Dec. 2006 (PDF)

Immigration News - Detention

Immigrants with Mental Disabilities Lost in Detention For Years - ACLU - March 26, 2010

Immigrant Detention Centers Under Suspicion - Tell Me More - January 13, 2009 (link to audio)

$44 million to flow into system for tracking immigrant detainees - San Antonio Express-News - November 27, 2008

Hundreds of Workers Detained in Immigration Raid - New York Times - August 25, 2008

Cellmate Describes Pain of Detainee Who Died - New York Times - August 19, 2008

Ill and in Pain, Detainee Dies in U.S. Hands - New York Times - August 12, 2008

Judge Finds Widespread Abuses in Immigration Detention - ACLU News Release - July 31, 2007

New Scrutiny as Immigrants Die in Custody - New York Times - June 26, 2007

Illegal Immigrants Received Poor Care in Jail, Lawyers Say - Washington Post - June 13, 2007

Raymondville: Inside the Largest Immigration Prison Camp in the U.S. - Democracy Now - Feb. 23, 2007 (link to audio)

Immigrants Held in U.S. Often Kept in Squalor - National Public Radio - Jan. 19, 2007 (link to audio)

Immigration Centers Fail Health Checks - Washington Post - Jan. 17, 2007

Department of Justice News Release – EOIR Adds 10 New Legal Orientation Program Sites – Oct. 13, 2006