Adding Immigration Bonds to Your Bail Agency
As with any company, a successful bail agency must look for ways to expand its services for new sources of income. There are various untapped business offerings that may net bail agents a nice paycheck, but one of the greatest unused resources is the immigration bond. Becoming licensed to handle immigration bonds isn't difficult, and doing so can help to ensure the financial success of your agency.
What Are Immigration Bonds?
An immigration bond is a federal bond that must be posted when an individual is held after arrest by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - specifically, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Unlike bail bonds, which are criminal in nature, immigration bonds are civil. They are also federal bonds, not state bonds. In spite of these important differences, the bond process works exactly the same way as with bail bonds: the bond ensures that an individual will show up for all court appearances.
On the other hand, immigration bonds are dealt with differently than bail bonds. In order to work with immigration bonds, a bail agency must be licensed to handle immigration bonds. Cash bonds are given to the federal government through the DHS. Oftentimes, those dealing in immigration bonds must cope with language barriers, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and other branches of Homeland Security. Once an individual is detained, the DHS completes an investigation as to whether the individual has a legal right to be in the country. After that, they determine the bond amount and the type of bond that will be issued.
There are two types of immigration bonds: the delivery bond and the departure bond. The first is posted for the return of the detained individual to court on the specified dates. The second ensures that the detainee will leave the country by a predetermined date. Fees for these bonds are more than those for bail bonds, sometimes up to 20% of the assured amount.
Tapping into the Market
AboutBail.com member Robert Prager, from Action Immigration Bonds, experienced explosive growth by focusing on immigration bonds after seeing a "niche that needed to be fulfilled." His company, then called Action Bail Bonds, opened in 1974. Although they dabbled in immigration bonds from time to time, they became involved on a national scale in 1999. Adding immigration bonds helped to increase their business from a small, local agency to a national business. Because the marketplace was thirsty for an avenue that provided collateral options outside of real estate, Action Bail Bonds stepped in, seeing a way to bring more to the table, and a way to offer commissions to properly licensed agents where no one else was.
Recognizing a need that is not being met and becoming involved is a surefire way to grow your business. If, as an agency, you become licensed to deal in immigration bonds, you will be able to provide for an area in the market that may be lacking. As a bail agent, you will be compensated on the basis of your license. Because immigration bonds can result in double the profit over regular bail bonds, those with licenses stand to benefit from the outset. It represents a profitable deal, and for individuals like Prager, it was the key to a more lucrative business.
Understanding Immigration Bonds
Before you pursue a license, there are a few things you should consider. First, you should consider whether or not your market will allow sufficient business for a licensed immigration bond agency. In small towns without many immigrants, it might not make business sense, but for the many areas of the United States experiencing growth in the immigrant population, it may.
One potential difficulty is finding sufficient collateral to cover the bond. For example, in today's depressed housing market, families may have difficulty covering a bond with their devalued real estate investments. Cash, stock holdings, and vehicles might yield better collateral results. Prager deals with the issue by meticulously checking the value of their real estate by doing title searches and appraisals.
Immigration bonds pose an additional difficulty: they are subject to immediate forfeiture if a client does not appear in court, resulting in greater financial risk for the agency.
How to Get Started
To get started, research the qualifications necessary to become an agency licensed to deal in immigration bonds. The process usually isn't difficult and requires little more than a casualty insurance license in addition to the license you already possess. A great way to begin is to talk with other agents who deal in immigration bond issues and discuss qualifications. Once qualified, you can begin looking for clients.
It's important to immediately begin advertising your company as one of the few that deal in immigration bonds. After you've established it as a specialty service that you offer, you can expect to attract more business. By expanding into immigration bonds, not only will you secure additional sources of revenue for your business, you will position your organization in an elite group of agencies licensed to deal in immigration bonds.
Freelance writer Christy Rakoczy graduated with a JD from University of California Los Angeles in May of 2008. While in law school, Ms. Rakoczy earned three CALI Awards for Excellence in 2005-2006 for receiving the highest grades in her Civil Procedure and Contracts classes. She has experience working for an insurance defense law firm and teaching paralegal studies, and is currently running her own freelance writing business.