Immigration Bond Hearing Process

When a person with illegal status is detained, what happens depends on what their options are. It’s different in every case, but generally, the first thing that happens is they’ll be assigned an alien number, assuming they’ve never been in contact with immigration before. The A number is very important for the family to find out as soon as possible if they’re going to be talking to a lawyer, because that’s what is used to identify the person in custody.

At that point, ICE will determine independently whether the person is eligible for an immigration bond and they will generally let them contact the family or make some phone calls. And then, if you’re eligible for a bond you can pay it. If ICE has not agreed to bond, then generally you’ll get a hearing before an immigration judge. At that point, you can submit your application for a bond.

What to Expect from an Immigration Bond Hearing

What to expect from an immigration bond hearing generlly depends on what you’ve been detained for. If you just have a simple immigration violation like you’ve overstayed a visa or you have a minor criminal conviction, then you basically just need to prove that you’re not a flight risk. This means that you’re not going to return to your next immigration court hearing.

So, you can do things to combat that like show that you have family ties here, you have connections to the community, prove that you’ve retained an immigration attorney and that you’re planning on fighting your case. You can also present evidence about what kind of immigration benefits you might be eligible for that you plan on applying for if you are released.

If you have a criminal issue like you’ve been detained because you’ve been convicted of a crime or charged with a crime and ICE has discovered you at that point, then you’re also going to have to convince them that you’re not a danger to the community. And that’s just going to involve submitting character evidence and things that are going to counter the negative elements that the crime has created in your case.

Consequences of Being Denied a Bond

If the bond is denied by ICE, you really can’t review it.  They have a lot of discretion on whether or not to grant it. But if the immigration court denies a bond, you can appeal that.

How Long Does the Bond Process Take?

It depends again on what you’re eligible for. Sometimes if ICE is going to grant the bond for you, it can happen in hours or days. If you need to apply in front of the immigration judge, you’re going to have to wait for a bond hearing and that just depends on the case load of the court.

Generally, they’ll get you a bond hearing within a week or two, but sometimes it can be longer if the court calendar is really full.

The Importance of Acting Quickly

At the beginning stage you may still be eligible to apply for the bond with ICE and if you’re a person without a serious criminal history and if you have family in the United States. If you have a possibility to apply for a legal status at some point, it may be easier for you to apply for the bond with ICE than with the immigration court because number one, a lot of times the bond that ICE sets will be lower in amount than the bond that will be set by the immigration judge.

Second, it’s easier. You or your attorney can just submit the application and supporting documents. It’s more informal than going to an actual immigration court hearing.

Another issue is that if you’ve been detained for a criminal issue, it’s very important to try to bond out of criminal detention as soon as possible because there’s a possibility that if you’re able to get out quickly enough, you might not even be picked up by ICE – meaning you might not be put into immigration custody at all.

Common Misconceptions of Immigration Bonds and Bond Hearings

A lot of people think that everyone is eligible for a bond. People are often shocked at the fact that what seem to be minor crimes, like maybe a minor drug conviction or a misdemeanor that involves fraud, can actually make you totally ineligible for a bond. Also, domestic violence convictions can make you totally ineligible for a bond. This surprises some people.  Most firearm convictions – sometimes even just minor carrying or licensing infractions – can make you ineligible.

Factors to Consider in Immigration Bond Cases

The first thing we look for is the criminal record. We want to make sure that the client is actually eligible and that the conviction doesn’t subject them to mandatory detention.

The second thing we look for is what kind of positive equities they have, like what options they’re going to have to defend themselves against deportation. Also, we look at what kind of connections and family ties do they have in the United States and what kind of hardship is their family going to suffer if they’re detained for a long period of time.

Also, we look for evidence of good character. Because a lot of it is actually just discretionary. If we can submit character evidence showing that you’re a responsible member of the community, it’s going to be more likely to be granted at a reasonable amount.

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