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Should I Consider Voluntary Departure Before or After a Deportation Hearing?

Posted on in Deportation

b2ap3_thumbnail_Voluntary-Departure-Deportation.jpgIf you have received a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court, it means that some agency under the Department of Homeland Security has started deportation/removal proceedings against you and that you are at imminent risk of being deported from the U.S. You probably have many questions.

How Do I Find a Lawyer Who Can Help Me in a Particular Immigration Court Location?

The law requires that you receive an NTA at least 10 days before a scheduled hearing, which may not give you a lot of time to get prepared. The NTA will provide the location of the hearing. There are currently 400 immigration judges in 63 immigration courts across the country.

If you have not worked with an immigration attorney before, look for one near where you live and near the court where you have been ordered to appear. For example, if you have been ordered to appear in immigration court in Hartford, Connecticut, and you live in a city in Fairfield County such as Darien or New Canaan, a Stamford attorney will be able to appear with you in court. Other nearby immigration courts are located in New York City and Napanoch, New York. An attorney who serves Westchester County clients can help you there.

Should I Leave the U.S. Before Appearing in Immigration Court?

You should absolutely not leave the U.S. before your immigration court hearing. If you fail to appear in court when ordered, the judge may issue an “in absentia” (in your absence) order of removal. Once a removal order has been issued against you, you will be ruled inadmissible to the U.S. for 10 years unless you are granted some type of relief by the court. 

Should I Ask the Immigration Court for Voluntary Departure Before or After My Hearings?

Voluntary departure means that you agree to leave the U.S. at your own expense within a set time period, thereby avoiding an order of removal and the associated 10-year period of inadmissibility. 

You will have two opportunities to ask an immigration judge to allow your voluntary departure:

  • At or before your first hearing, the Master Calendar Hearing; or
  • After your second hearing, the Merits Hearing.

If you are willing to concede your case, you can make your request at or before your first court hearing. The judge may then grant you up to 120 days to leave the U.S. You must, however, convince the court that you have sufficient funds to pay for your departure, truly intend to leave on time, and are not a criminal or national security risk.

If you decide to fight the charges against you but the judge ultimately rules that you must leave the U.S., you may ask the judge to grant you voluntary departure instead of removal. If you meet all of the requirements, the judge may allow you up to 60 days to leave the country. The requirements are stricter than if you had made your request earlier, including:

  • Physical presence in the U.S. for at least one year prior to the NTA and documentation of good moral character for at least five years prior;
  • Clear and convincing evidence of both intent and financial ability to depart, possibly requiring you to post a bond to ensure your compliance; and
  • Presentation of a valid passport or other documentation necessary to enter the country to which you are going.

A Stamford Deportation Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you or a family member have received a Notice to Appear in immigration court in Connecticut or New York, consult a Fairfield County deportation defense lawyer as soon as possible. Gonzalez Law Office, LLC, can assist you in preparing for the hearing and advise you regarding the option of voluntary departure. Call 203-323-1440 to make an appointment. We serve clients throughout Westchester County, New York, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.







Fairfield County Bar Association Connecticut Bar Association American Immigration Lawyers Association Connecticut American Immigration Lawyers Association
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