Voluntary Departure vs. Voluntary Return vs. Deportation

Many people believe that there is no difference between a voluntary departure, a voluntary return, and a deportation. When, in fact, there is a significant difference between each on of them and each has a different immigration consequence if and when  a person decides to seek admission to the United States.

Voluntary Departure : This type of departure can take place at the border, a port of entry, or anywhere in the United States, including immigration court or detention. It can be given by border patrol or by ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • If at the border, typically there is a short detention period, usually less than 6 hours, fingerprints and pictures are taken, and a paper is signed. After which the person is allowed to go back to their home country. This type of immigration procedure is common at the border between Mexico and the United States if you are a Mexican national. It is also common if the person is not a habitual immigration violator and does not have a criminal record.
  • This type of immigration procedure will not harm a person if they apply for a visa or a green card.

Voluntary Return : This type of departure only takes place at the border It can be given by border patrol.

  • At the border, there is a short detention, usually less than 30 minutes, fingerprints are taken but nothing is signed. Basically, border patrol turns the person back around and sends them back to their home country (typically Mexico) without gathering any data or very little data about the person.
  • This type of departure will not harm a person if they apply for a visa or a green card.

Deportation or Order of Removal: This type of departure takes place at the border, port of entry, or any immigration court in the nation.  It can be given by border patrol or ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • If at the Border or Port of Entry, a deportation is called a Expedited Removal. This type of order is allowed to be given to a person by border patrol within 90 miles of the border. A person will not be able to see a judge or contest an Order of Expedited Removal. It is up to border patrol alone whether or not to give someone an expedited removal order. A person’s fingerprints will be taken, notice will be given, and the person will sign something. Detention is usually more than 24 hours.
  • In  immigration proceedings, if the Judge determines that a person is not eligible for a certain type of relief or denies a person’s relief, an Order of Removal will be entered. If not detained, a person will receive a bag and baggage letter stating a place and time to report to in order to be deported.
  • This type of departure will harm someone if they apply for a visa or a green card. An expedited removal order bars a person from applying for admission into the United States for five (5) years. An order of removal bars a person from applying for admission for ten (10) years.
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