If you or someone you know is facing deportation from the U.S., there may be an opportunity to argue that you should not be deported, whether it is prior to or while in immigration court proceedings. If this request is unsuccessful, you may be eligible for voluntary departure, which is a request to the judge to leave the country on your own without receiving an order of deportation on your immigration record. Many people request this type of removal if they have much defense or a case in their hearing. Your eligibility for voluntary departure depends on when you make the request, which can be before the start of your hearing in immigration court, during the removal proceedings or at the conclusion of the proceedings. A voluntary departure differs from a removal order in several ways: 1. If you are issued a removal order and are not granted voluntary removal, you may be barred from reentering the U.S. for up to 10 years. One of the main benefits of voluntary departure is that it does not bar you from legally returning to the U.S. at a later date, as long as you apply and qualify for a new visa or green card. 2. If you enter the country without proper authorization, you may face civil and criminal penalties The qualifications for voluntary departure before the conclusion of proceedings in your immigration hearing case are as follows. You must: 1. Waive or withdraw all other requests for relief 2. Concede removability 3. Waive appeal of all issues 4. Have not been convicted of an aggravated felony and you are not a security risk 5. Show clear and convincing evidence that you intend and have the financial ability to depart If you meet these requirements, an immigration judge may grant a voluntary departure period of up to 120 days at the time of the initial hearing. The qualifications for voluntary departure after the conclusion of proceedings in your immigration hearing case are as follows. You must: 1. Show physical presence for one year prior to the date the Notice to Appear is issued 2. Show clear and convincing evidence that you intend and have no financial ability to depart 3. Pay a bond (if Judge requires) 4. Show good moral character for 5 years prior to the application 5. Present to DHS a valid passport or other travel document sufficient to show lawful entry into your country, unless already in the possession of DHS or not needed. If you meet these requirements, an immigration judge may grant a voluntary departure period of up to 60 days at the time of the initial hearing. If you have been detained by Immigration Services or know someone who has, consult immediately with an immigration attorney and Maria Jones Law Firm to discuss your legal options for departure from the U.S.