Our office routinely deals with clients who are detained by immigration and hire us to help obtain a bond so they can be released from immigration custody. Most clients are hyper-focused on actually getting a bond set, but our job as experienced attorneys is to make sure that clients understand five important facts about immigration bonds so that they can be fully prepared for the process.
1. The immigration bond is separate and apart from any criminal bond paid in relation to an arrest by the police. Do not confuse a bond paid at a jail prior to a person being passed to immigration custody. In most cases, a person is first arrested by the police for an offense such as no license. Many times an immigration hold is placed on that person. This means that once the criminal bond is paid, immigration often comes and takes the person from police custody to immigration custody where another bond amount will hopefully be set. One of the main differences between a criminal and immigration bond is that an immigration bond must be paid in full, whereas generally ten percent of a criminal bond must be posted. The criminal bond is not put towards the immigration bond.
2. The immigration bond must be posted by a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). If an undocumented family member is paying a bond, they must do so through a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This should be a person that you deeply trust and are in constant contact with because the bond will only be returned to the person who posts the bond. If you give the person posting the bond the money to post the bond, the only way you will get the money back will be through the individual who actually posts the bond.
3. The immigration bond must be paid with a cashier’s check or money order, not cash or check. Do not arrive at the immigration office with cash thinking that immigration will accept it. They will send you out to buy a money order or get a cashier’s check. Save time and effort by going to the bond office prepared.
4. Plan on spending several hours at immigration while posting the bond. The office that accepts immigration bonds is notoriously slow. Bring a good book when you go to post the bond and try to remain patient. However, if you are waiting more than a few hours, ask to speak to a supervisor, especially if an officer tells you that you must return the next day. A supervisor may be able to help you resolve any issues.
5. Bond money will not be returned until several months after a case is completed in immigration court. Keep in mind that a case can be stuck in court for several years. Do not plan on having access to the bond money while your case is pending. If your case is completed and more than four months have passed, contact your attorney to investigate why the bond money has not been returned.
Obtaining an immigration bond is a difficult process that requires the assistance of an experienced attorney. Do not trust just any attorney to handle your bond matter, it is important that you hire an attorney dedicated to immigration law who knows the details of the laws and processes and can help you understand a prepare for the process.