What’s the Difference Between Voluntary Departure and Delivery Immigration Bonds?

Immigration bonds bear a resemblance to the bail bonds commonly used in the criminal justice system. They serve as a lifeline for detainees, enabling them to secure their release while their case is pending. It’s important to note that posting an immigration bond doesn’t assure the detainee’s right to remain in the United States. Instead, it provides them with an opportunity to organize their affairs and fight their case outside of a detention facility.

There are two primary types of immigration bonds: delivery bonds, and voluntary departure bonds. Each of these bonds serves a unique purpose and comes with its own set of requirements.

Securing an immigration bond can be achieved through either a surety bond or a cash bond. In the case of a surety bond, an obligor (often a friend or relative of the detainee who puts up the collateral) works in conjunction with an immigration bond agent, paying a premium and offering collateral. On the other hand, a cash bond allows the detainee or bond agent to pay the entire bond amount directly to ICE.

The Immigration Bond Process

The journey of an immigration bond starts with the apprehension of an individual by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Following this, ICE evaluates the person’s eligibility for an immigration bond. It’s important to note that not every detainee qualifies for this bond; certain legal circumstances or offenses can render a person ineligible. If the individual is deemed eligible, ICE determines the bond amount, taking into account factors such as the person’s immigration status, criminal history, employment situation, and familial connections within the United States.

Once the bond amount is established, ICE issues a Notice of Custody Conditions and a Warrant of Arrest. These documents are crucial and must be presented when posting the bond. The bond can be paid by any individual who can demonstrate their legal residency or American citizenship, often referred to as the obligor. The obligor can pay the bond directly to ICE or through an immigration bond service such as Southern Bail Bonds.

After the bond is posted, the detainee is released under specific conditions outlined in the Notice of Custody Conditions. The individual is then required to attend all immigration hearings and comply with all court orders. Non-compliance can result in re-arrest and potential forfeiture of the bond amount.

The conclusion of the immigration case triggers the return of the bond amount to the obligor. However, the timeline for this can vary significantly. It’s also important to remember that in the case of a surety bond, the initial premium paid to the bond agent is not refundable as it serves as the fee for their services.

Delivery Bonds

A delivery bond is a specific type of immigration bond designed to ensure the detainee’s attendance at all scheduled immigration hearings. Hence, the term delivery in its name. Like other immigration bonds, the amount is set by ICE or an immigration judge. The primary objective of a delivery bond is to guarantee that the individual fulfills their obligation to appear at all court appointments.

One of the key features of delivery bonds is the freedom they offer to the detainee while their immigration case is in progress. Once released from detention through a delivery bond, the individual can reconnect with family, seek legal advice, and begin preparing their case if they are contesting deportation.

Beyond its primary function, a delivery bond also serves a humanitarian role. It provides the detainee with an opportunity to reunite with their family, continue their employment, seek legal counsel, and collect evidence to bolster their case if they are fighting deportation. This time outside of detention can be invaluable for individuals as they prepare their defense.

Furthermore, delivery bonds contribute to the efficient management of immigration detention centers. By allowing eligible detainees to reside outside of detention while their immigration case is in progress, it helps mitigate overcrowding in these facilities.

In essence, the delivery bond is a vital element of the immigration system, striking a balance between the goals of law enforcement and the rights and requirements of detainees.


The opportunity to secure a delivery bond is not available to all detainees. Generally, those perceived as a risk to public safety, national security, or likely to abscond are not offered this bond option. Conversely, detainees who do not pose a significant risk are usually eligible.

Eligibility for a delivery bond is determined by the Immigration judge or ICE, taking into account a variety of factors. These encompass the detainee’s immigration history, community ties, familial relationships in the U.S., employment record, criminal history, and the circumstances surrounding their arrival in the U.S.

For example, strong family connections in the U.S., a lengthy residence history, and a stable employment record could enhance an individual’s chances of securing a delivery bond. On the other hand, serious criminal offenses, past immigration violations, or limited connections within the U.S. could negatively impact these chances.

The decision to grant a delivery bond, as well as the bond amount, can largely depend on the discretion of ICE or the immigration judge. As such, seeking advice from an experienced immigration attorney can be instrumental in successfully navigating this process.

Responsibilities and Obligations

Securing a delivery bond allows an immigrant detainee to reintegrate into society, albeit with certain conditions. This doesn’t equate to complete freedom, but rather, it offers a chance to prepare more effectively for impending immigration proceedings. The individual, now out on a delivery bond, can engage an immigration attorney, gather necessary documents, and connect with potential witnesses. This time can also be used to manage personal affairs, such as financial matters or guardianship arrangements for U.S citizen children, in case deportation is inevitable.

The conditions of the bond require the individual to attend all immigration court hearings. Failure to do so may lead to forfeiture of the bond, immediate detention, and accelerated deportation proceedings.

It’s imperative that the individual maintains employment and avoids criminal activity during this period, as these factors can significantly impact the outcome of the immigration proceedings. Any changes in address must be promptly reported to the ICE to ensure ongoing communication regarding the case.

Voluntary Departure Bonds

A voluntary departure bond provides an alternative to the often harsh reality of deportation. This bond differs from a delivery bond, which is designed to ensure the detained individual’s presence at all immigration hearings.

The essence of a voluntary departure bond lies in its function as a financial assurance. When an immigration court grants a voluntary departure, the detainee is permitted to leave the United States voluntarily within a certain period, at their own expense. The bond is paid to guarantee this departure, ensuring the individual will exit the U.S within the agreed time frame.

The voluntary departure bond offers several benefits. It allows the individual to avoid the negative implications and potential legal consequences of formal deportation, which could hinder future legal re-entry into the U.S. Essentially, this bond encourages the individual to leave the U.S. under the terms of their release.

Once the bond is paid, and the individual leaves the U.S. as agreed, the bond amount is refunded to the person or entity that posted it. However, if the individual fails to leave within the designated time, the bond amount is forfeited. Thus, the voluntary departure bond acts as a safeguard, ensuring compliance with the court’s grant of voluntary departure and mitigating the severe repercussions of formal deportation.


There are several criteria for a voluntary departure bond. The Immigration Judge or ICE considers factors such as the individual’s immigration history, criminal record, family ties, length of residence in the United States, and the probability of them honoring the order to leave voluntarily.

Generally, individuals deemed a threat to public safety or national security, or those with serious immigration law violations, are not eligible for a voluntary departure bond. Similarly, individuals with an aggravated felony conviction are excluded from applying for this bond.

Applicants must also demonstrate their ability and intent to leave the country at their own expense, exhibit good moral character, and have been physically present in the U.S. for a certain period before their application. They must also affirm that their departure will not inflict extreme hardship on a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.

The decision to grant a voluntary departure bond largely rests with the immigration judge, making a robust legal defense crucial. A local immigration bond company or an immigration attorney can navigate you through this process, ensuring you understand your rights, options, and the most suitable course of action based on your specific situation.

Responsibilities and Obligations

When an individual posts a voluntary departure bond, they are essentially entering into an agreement with the immigration court. This agreement stipulates that the individual will depart the United States within a specified time frame, typically ranging from 60 to 120 days.

The financial implications of this bond are significant. Upon successful departure from the country, and with proof of departure provided to immigration authorities, the bond money is returned. However, if the individual fails to leave within the designated time, the bond is forfeited. This could also lead to a removal order and a ten-year prohibition on re-entry into the U.S.

Choosing voluntary departure can help avoid the negative repercussions of a formal removal, such as long-term bans on re-entry. Importantly, with voluntary departure, there is no formal removal order recorded on the individual’s immigration history, which could be advantageous in future immigration proceedings.

Nevertheless, the individual must be prepared to cover the cost of returning to their home country. If circumstances change, preventing the individual from leaving the U.S within the agreed time or covering their departure costs, it’s important to seek advice from an immigration attorney immediately. Non-compliance carries serious consequences.

In essence, posting a voluntary departure bond presents both potential advantages and disadvantages. Fully understanding these implications will help you make informed decisions regarding immigration proceedings.

Similarities & Differences

Feature Delivery Bond Voluntary Departure Bond
Purpose To ensure the detainee appears at all immigration hearings, and to allow the individual to live outside of detention while their immigration case is ongoing. To allow the detainee to leave the U.S. voluntarily within a specified time frame, while allowing the individual to live outside of detention during this time.
Eligibility Issued based on an arrest warrant and notice of custody conditions. Offered as an option to detainees who agree to leave the country at their own expense.
Cost of bond