In June 2018, when United States immigration officials were scrambling to comply with court orders to reunite parents seeking asylum with children who had been taken away from them at the border, CNN reported that many of these individuals were offered the option to sign voluntary departure orders. These migrant parents were told they would see their children faster if they took the voluntary departure route, but immigration advocates saw certain issues with this practice.
According to the definition provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, voluntary departures are actions undertaken by foreigners in lieu of a removal order. The circumstances for these departures will vary. In some cases immigration agents will offer them, while in others individuals who are not U.S. citizens may request a voluntary departure.
In general, voluntary departures are preferable to removal orders because they don’t feature as much legal friction, but they do have some consequences. There is a benefit insofar as not having a removal order on record, thus eliminating the prospect of automatic inadmissibility. However, in the case of the aforementioned parents separated from their children, certain legal protections have the potential of being taken away.
Foreigners who believe their deportation cases may reach a favorable outcome in immigration court should consult with their attorneys before accepting voluntary departures. Another aspect to consider is the length of unlawful permanence. A foreigner who overstayed a visa for more than six months may be not be allowed to return to the U.S. for several years even with a voluntary departure.
With the above in mind, voluntary departures present some benefits, one of them being a more relaxed period before leaving the country. An attorney may be able to persuade immigration officials to set a departure date four months in the future, thereby giving foreigners time to get their affairs in order. In some cases, voluntary departure orders may be offered to incarcerated individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes, but the time frame for departure may be minimal.
The best legal strategy for voluntary departure would be to request it at the right time and with the possibility of obtaining an immigration waiver. For this you need to consult a trusted San Diego immigration attorney who can guide you accordingly. This situation will be helpful if foreigners plan on returning to the U.S. for family-based immigration. In other words, voluntary departures may increase the likelihood of readmission.
An important aspect of voluntary departure offers is that they must not be obtained under duress. If this happens, an immigration attorney may bring up the matter in court or to officials along with a motion for relief. The key is to always try to steer the case toward an opportunity to file a Form I-212, Application to Permission to Reapply for Admission, in the future. Readmission is extremely difficult to be granted when an individual has been removed, but it may be easier with a voluntary departure.
If you plan on applying for voluntary departure and would like to seek proper guidance, get in touch with the immigration lawyers at KS Visa Law, one of the leading providers of immigration services in San Diego. Call 858-874-0711 today to schedule an appointment.