Taking Voluntary Departure in Immigration Court

If you are in removal proceedings in immigration court, but married to a US citizen, one form of relief is to request voluntary departure. That is, unless you have accumulated unlawful presence in the US. Be sure to speak to an immigration attorney before deciding to either simply leave the US without going to court, or taking voluntary departure in court. The laws concerning unlawful presence are complex and you want to make sure that you do not subject yourself to an automatic bar of either 3 or 10 years once you leave. The purpose of taking voluntary departure is to allow someone who does not qualify for adjustment of status in the US, to leave the US and then ask to return as a result of being married to a US citizen once the I-130 Petition for Relative Alien has been approved.

Voluntary Departure v. Self-Deportation

If you leave the US without going to court, you will self-deport and have to stay out of the US for several years before returning. However, by going to court and requesting voluntary departure, even though you entered the US illegally, you would not have unlawful presence if you filed an asylum application within one year of your entry. Unlawful presence may be tolled in other situations as well.

Voluntary departure is a discretionary form of relief, meaning the judge has the ability to grant or not grant voluntary departure even if technically, you are eligible. You will be asked to confirm that it is your decision to take voluntary departure, what arrests and convictions do you have anywhere in the world, whether or novoluntary deparuret you have been ordered removed before or taken voluntary departure before, and whether or not you have a passport and the ability to pay your own way out of the United States. You will also have to advise the court that you will leave on or before the date provided by the court. The most time you will be able to remain in the US after taking voluntary departure is 120 days.

Complying with the Voluntary Departure Order

Once you take voluntary departure, it is very important that you make an appointment to appear in person at the local US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office to present a copy of your passport and airline reservation. Form G- 146 will be provided to verify your departure from the US. This document should be taken to the US Consulate in your home country. By complying with the voluntary departure procedure, your case will avoid unnecessary problems.