Immigration Bonds Explained


Immigration bonds differ from bail bonds in that immigration bonds are of a civil nature, whereas bail bonds are of a criminal nature. With immigration bonds, the court can allow the defendant to remain in the United States, or it can deport the defendant. If the defendant is in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the cosigner will need to find a bond agency that deals with immigration bonds. There may also be a criminal bond on the detainee. If this is the case, the cosigner should contact a bond agency that can provide both bail bond services and immigration bond services.

DHS and Detainers

DHS will place a detainer on a defendant until the defendant completes the criminal case. A detainer is an administrative hold. The defendant may still post the bail bond, but the holding agency will hold the defendant for DHS until DHS transfers the defendant to DHS custody. The detainer is served on the authorities holding the defendant. If the defendant is not picked up in 72 hours (by DHS), and unless DHS notifies the holding agency of extenuating circumstances, the holding agency will allow the defendant to leave custody if he has posted the criminal bond.

If the defendant is in DHS custody, the defendant is assigned a file number. The file number is referred to as an “A” number. If the defendant has a green card, the number may be the same number as the green card. For DHS to answer any questions by family, the family should have the “A” number, as this is the easiest way for DHS authorities to refer to the defendant.

DHS Investigation

With immigration bonds, DHS will complete an investigation, which cannot take more than 48 hours (workday hours). Should the defendant have an extensive criminal record, or if the availability of documents is lacking, the investigation period could be extended. Part of the investigation includes an interview by a DHS officer to determine whether the defendant has any legal right to be in the United States. The investigation also reviews the criminal record. At the end of the interview, DHS agent will recommend an immigration bond amount. It is just a recommendation, and the bond amount is not set in stone until a Notice to Appear is issued. The Notice to Appear will include the charges and the official bond amount. A copy of this notice should be available for the immigration bond agent, if at all possible.

A Notice of Custody Determination is also issued. The bonding agency will also need a copy of this document. Once these documents are in the bonding agency’s possession, the bonding agency can begin working on getting the defendant released from DHS’s custody. If no immigration bond was set, the defendant may have to wait as many as ten days to appear before a judge in a bond hearing.

The two common bonds are a Delivery Bond and a Voluntary Departure Bond. A Delivery Bond is set with an amount that will ensure the defendant’s appearance for any future immigration proceedings. A Voluntary Departure Bond is set when the defendant is ordered to leave the United States. Once released from DHS, the defendant is given a certain amount of time to get his or her affairs together and to leave the United States. The amount of the immigration bond is partially based on an amount that will ensure the defendant leaves the United States in the time specified.

What Are Immigration Bail Bonds?


Immigration bail bonds are federal bonds issued to defendants who are arrested for being in the U.S. illegally and who are held by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Once a defendant has been issued bail and receives an immigration bond, he or she is freed, but he or she must attend a future court hearing to address his or her immigration violations and possible sentence.

Requirements for Immigration Bail Bonds

Requirements for immigration bail bonds are very similar to those for standard bail bonds: the defendant must pay a set amount of the bail as a fee to a bond agency, collateral must be presented to qualify for the bond, and if the defendant flees, the total amount of the bond is immediately due.

Most immigration bond companies charge a fee that is 15 percent of the total bail amount; additional fees for the immigration bond service may also include costs for phone calls, travel expenses, and court fees.

Once the defendant attends his or her court hearing, the bond is terminated – regardless of the outcome of the hearing – but the bond agent will keep the 15 percent fee and any additional costs of his or her service.

Collateral for the bond may include anything of monetary value from jewelry, to a family member’s home to private cash savings. Most immigration bonds are issued with collateral provided by the defendant’s family and friends – and this collateral serves as a strong deterrent against flight: if the defendant flees, family and friends must pay the total bail fee and the bond agent will need to hire a bounty hunter to find the defendant.

Issues Concerning Immigration Bail Bonds

Immigration bonds offer defendants the chance to work on their case outside of the confines of detainment, and for many defendants, the opportunity to develop a case, hire a lawyer, and gather up all the evidence they need for the court hearing can have a big impact on the outcome of their trial.

However, immigration bail bonds are deemed high-risk bonds, because the flight risks for these types of bonds are raised. To qualify for a license to issue an immigration bond, a bond agent must carry a special type of high-risk insurance, and as a result, not very many bond agents are licensed to issue these types of bonds. Defendants who need an immigration bail bond may benefit from the services of an immigration lawyer, who can help them to find a licensed bond agent and develop their defense case.

*The information in this article does not constitute legal advice. Please contact a legal professional in your local area for the best up-to-date and accurate legal advice.

How Immigration Bail Bonds Work

[Immigration bond] If your friend or loved one has been arrested and detained for immigration reasons, you must get an immigration bond to release the person from custody until his or her court appearance. Immigration bonds are only available to detainees if they meet certain qualifications, which we'll explain later.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the government organization that arrests and detains foreign nationals. ICE has the authority to release the person based on personal recognizance, in which case you won't need to pay for a bond. But when either ICE or an immigration judge sets a bond amount, it's time to explore your options.

Types of immigration bonds

There are two types of immigration bonds available to illegal aliens in ICE custody (as long as the detainee is not considered a threat to national security or public safety) and we'll explain the purpose of each below.

Delivery bond – An illegal immigrant who has been detained by ICE may be eligible for a delivery bond based on the determination of ICE or an immigration judge. The detainee must receive an arrest warrant and a notice of custody conditions from ICE to be released on a delivery bond. The purpose of the delivery bond is to ensure that the detainee shows up to all immigration hearings. It allows the person to spend time with family, as well as consult with an immigration lawyer leading up to a court hearing.
Voluntary departure bond – In some cases, detainees are given the option to voluntarily leave the country at their own expense by a specified time period. The departure bond--if paid in full to ICE--is refundable once the person has left the country, but will be forfeited if the person fails to leave.

How much do immigration bonds cost?

Either ICE or an immigration judge will set the bond amount, and the amount will increase or decrease based on several factors, such as the person's immigration status, criminal history, employment situation, and family ties in the United States. The higher the flight risk, the higher the bond amount. The usual minimum amount for a delivery bond is $1,500, and the cost can increase up to $10,000 or more depending on an assessment of the detainee's risk factors. For departure bonds, the minimum amount is typically $500. One important thing to keep in mind is that it sometimes take a year or longer for the government to return the bond money to the person who posted it.

How do I get an immigration bond?

There are two ways to pay for an immigration bond:

Surety bond– The detainee's friends or family can work with an immigration bond agent to get a surety bond. The agent will typically charge 15-20% of the total bond amount, and the money or collateral you furnish is non-refundable.
Cash bond – The detainee's friends or family can pay the full bond amount directly to ICE, and that money will be refunded once the detainee has attended all mandatory hearings in immigration court. The cash bond can be paid by cash, money order, Cashier's check, or U.S. bonds or notes.

How can I find a trusted local immigration bond agent? has a nationwide trusted network of local, qualified immigration bond agents. To find someone near you, a quick search on will provide you with contact information for immigration bond agents near you. Use that information to get in touch with an immigration bond agent to find out more about the firm’s services and costs.Type your paragraph here.