HOUSTON – One of the most frequent confusions that I encounter daily among my clients is that they do not know very well the differences between a deportation order and a voluntary departure. Others don’t even know that they are TWO different things.
Since there is a big difference between a voluntary departure and a deportation order, especially in terms of its consequences, I want to take this opportunity to explain the details about both.
We will start with the simplest thing: the deportation order. This is, without a doubt, the worst case scenario for an immigrant. In most cases, deportation orders are issued either by immigration officers or by immigration judges.
According to the law, a deportation order can be issued by an officer for an immigrant who is subject to what is known as expedited removal.
However, for a judge to be the one to issue the order, the immigrant must first be placed in removal proceedings.
In this scenario, the judge will determine whether or not the immigrant has a remedy against deportation, if he decides not, then the judge will order him deported.
In the case of an expedited deportation order, the immigrant will receive a punishment of at least 5 years during which he will be prevented from returning to the United States.
In the case where a judge is the one who issues the order, the immigrant will not be able to return for at least 10 years. The other problem with the deportation orders is that these 5 and 10 year penalties could be extended if the immigrant is caught back in the United States without the necessary documentation to be here.
The good news is that pardons are available for these punishments in most cases. However, if the person does not attend their deportation court, the judge will issue a deportation order in their absence and this order carries a 5-year penalty for which there is no pardon.
Voluntary departure, on the other hand, is a remedy to avoid being ordered deported and that only an immigration judge can grant. However, not everyone can obtain voluntary departure, since there are several requirements that must be met, depending on the stage of the process where it is requested.
However, in order to obtain it, the immigrant must demonstrate that he / she has the financial means to pay for his / her return to their country and that he / she has the ability to return.
In other words, the immigrant must have money for a plane ticket and also a valid passport, although this is not normally the case for Mexican citizens, since they are transported by bus across the border by the immigration service.
Furthermore, the immigrant must demonstrate that he / she deserves the favorable discretion of the judge, that he / she has not been convicted of serious crimes and that he / she is not removable for reasons of national security.
Once the judge grants voluntary departure, the judge may impose certain conditions, including a deadline for leaving the country that, if not met, will convert the voluntary departure into a deportation order.
It is very important that if you or someone you know who is in deportation proceedings is considering requesting voluntary departure, you consult an immigration attorney before making any decision.