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How Immigration Bail Bonds Work

Immigration bondIf 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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