Bond Hearings in Immigration Court

In immigration court, a bond is a deposit of money that lets an alien return home while his or her deportation case proceeds.

Bond works the same way as bail does after a criminal arrest. If the immigrant does not appear in immigration court when required, the bond money is forfeited.

To help you better understand bond hearings in immigration court, our California immigration lawyers discuss, below:

airplane flying over DOJ U.S. Immigration Court building

1. How do I get a bond after an immigration arrest?

When someone is arrested by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) they are booked into detention. In some cases, the detention officer may offer the immigrant bond after booking.

If the bond payment is too high -- or if bond is not offered -- the immigrant can request a bond hearing.1

2. Who is eligible for a bond?

An alien may be granted a bond if the judge determines that the alien is not a danger to the community or a flight risk.2

Not everyone in deportation proceedings is eligible for a bond, however. Immigrants who are subject to “mandatory detention” must be kept in custody until the completion of their immigration case.

3. What is mandatory detention?

“Mandatory detention” (incarceration) occurs when ICE is required to hold someone without the possibility of bond. It applies to:

Detainees may be housed in a county jail or a federal or private prison, sometimes with the general criminal population.

The specific reasons for mandatory detention depend on whether the alien is considered:

  • Removable (deportable), or
  • Inadmissible to the United States.

Let's take a closer look at each of these situations.

3.1. Mandatory detention of removable (deportable) aliens

Mandatory detention results after a criminal conviction for:

An alien is also subject to mandatory detention if he or she is removal (deportable) due to drug abuse or addiction. (In practice, however, such deportations are rare).

3.2. Mandatory detention of inadmissible aliens

An alien who has been deemed inadmissible to the United States is subject to mandatory detention if the crime involves:

  • A single CIMT, unless:
    • The maximum sentence possible is one year or less and the actual sentence received was less than six months, or
    • The immigrant was under 18 when he/she committed the crime and it was more than five years ago;
  • Multiple convictions for any crimes (not just CIMTs) if the sentences added up to five years or more of imprisonment;
  • A federal or California controlled substances offense (or reasonable suspicion of drug trafficking);
  • Human trafficking;
  • An offense involving prostitution or any other unlawful commercialized vice;
  • Money laundering; or
  • Terrorism.4

4. Who can pay bond in immigration court?

Someone other than the detainee must pay the bond. The person who pays the bond must be someone who is in the U.S. lawfully. Once the bond is paid, the alien will be released from the detention center.

Not all detention centers will drop immigrants at a bus or train station. In such a case the detainee must be picked up. After bond has been paid, the person collecting the detainee can call the ICE office to find out when the detainee will be released.

5. How much does bond cost in immigration court?

The minimum bond amount is currently $1,500.5 But the actual amount can be much higher (up to $20,000 or more) depending on factors such as:

  • The length of time the alien has lived in the U.S.; 
  • Family and community ties in the U.S.;
  • The alien's employment history;
  • The alien's criminal record, and 
  • Any past immigration violations.
female judge listening to male lawyer

6. How can I get a bond hearing?

Bond hearings are not automatic in immigration cases. They must be requested either orally or in writing.6 The detainee can do this at any time.

During the bond hearing the alien will be allowed to present evidence of “favorable factors” to the judge.

Favorable factors for the issuance of a bond, or for lowering a bond payment, include (but are not limited to):

  • Family community ties,
  • A permanent address, and 
  • Proof of regular employment.

7. Can I appeal the immigration judge's decision?

An alien in detention can appeal a denial of bond to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Appeals of an immigration judge's bond decision must be made within 30 days.7

The alien can also request a new bond hearing if the alien's situation changes – for example, the alien's criminal conviction is overturned.

8. What are the conditions of release from immigration court?

Release on bond may be subject to conditions, such as reporting weekly to ICE or staying within the state.

Detained by ICE? Call us for help…

female receptionist

If you need help with a bond or any immigration matter, we invite you to contact our California immigration lawyers for a free consultation.

We also defend immigrants against California criminal charges with immigration consequences.

To schedule your free consultation call (855) 396-0370 or complete the form on this page.

There are many ways to stop deportation in immigration court. Call us today to find out which ones may be right for you.

We also have immigration lawyers in Nevada that can help if you were detained there.


Legal references:

  1. 8 CFR § 1236.1 (d)(1).
  2. 8 U.S. Code § 1226 (c)(2).
  3. 8 U.S. Code § 1226 (c)(1).
  4. Same; See also 8 U.S. Code § 1226a - mandatory detention of suspected terrorists.
  5. 8 U.S. Code § 1226 (a)(2).
  6. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.19(b).
  7. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.38.

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