Is There a Benefit to Me If I Leave The U.S. Voluntarily? September 13, 2018 | Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., By: Maryellen Hess Cameron

A voluntary departure is just what it sounds like. Immigrants who are in the midst of removal proceedings can ask the judge to allow them to leave on their own. If the judge grants your request, you have typically up to 120 days to leave on your own. That gives you time to make decisions with any family members who plan to stay, and to wrap up your affairs. You can still request voluntary departure after your immigration case has concluded. This typically reduces the time you can stay in the U.S. to only 60 days.

If you leave voluntarily you sometimes can retain the right to apply for an immigrant visa and return to the U.S. as an authorized person. If you choose this, you are playing the long game because of the 3/10-year bans that may apply against you for readmission. You must wait three years to apply for an immigrant visa if you lived in the US without lawful status less than one year but more than six months, and you must wait 10 years if you have lived in the US for more than one year. Unless you are eligible for a waiver of the bars.

The 3 year and 10-year bars to re-entry certainly make it less appealing to leave voluntarily with the hope you can return later with documentation. And, it you apply for the right to leave on your own you lose any opportunity to gain the right to stay in the U.S. through other forms of relief. There are harsh penalties if you overstay the time you are given to leave after a judge grants voluntary leave.

Choosing to leave voluntarily is a major decision for you and your family. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you evaluate all of the pros and cons before you make this decision. The team at Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. can provide you with this guidance. Please contact us on our website at or by phone at (510) 491-0291. Let us help you understand all of your options that might allow you to say in the U.S.