Frequently Asked Questions

En español

Thinking about donating to the National Immigrant Bond Fund, but want to know more? Here are answers to commonly asked questions:

What is an immigration bond?

An immigration bond is an amount set by Immigration agents or an Immigration Judge that a person must pay before being released from immigration detention.  The bond helps guarantee that the person released from detention will show up for all of his or her immigration court hearings,  report to Immigration if asked to do so, and leave the United States if the Immigration Judge orders deportation at the end of the case.  If the person bonded out fails to do these things, the bond money is forfeited and the government keeps it.

If a person is released on bond, can he or she stay permanently in the United States?
No.  Release on bond means that the person gets out of immigration detention during the immigration case.

How does someone get into immigration detention?
Immigration agents arrest and detain people they believe are in the United States without proper documents, like a valid visa, or people they believe could be deported for some other reason.

Are the people in immigration detention serving time for a crime?
No.  Immigration detention is not part of the criminal justice system.  Immigration detention is for the immigration case, not for a criminal case.

Does everyone detained by Immigration get a bond?
No.  If someone has already been ordered deported but never left the United States, he or she will not get a bond. That person already has a final order of deportation.  If a person has certain criminal convictions, he or she also will usually not get a bond.  If a person missed court hearings in the past, he or she also may not get a bond.

What does an Immigration Agent or Judge consider in setting bond for a detainee?
Three findings are necessary: (1) the person must not be a danger to the community; (2) the person must not be a threat to national security; and (3) the person must not a flight risk.

Does an Immigration Judge require any proof before making these three findings?
Yes.  An Immigration Judge will usually require letters or affidavits from family members with legal status, or from religious leaders in the community or other community members describing where the detainee will live, the kind of person he or she is, and whether he or she is likely to come to all the immigration court hearings.  If a detainee has a medical problem, the judge will usually require a letter from a doctor. Witnesses can also testify in immigration court.

Can a person get a bond if he or she has a criminal conviction?
Rarely.  Most criminal convictions automatically prevent a person from getting a bond even if the convictions happened a long time ago.  A person with a minor criminal conviction may be able to get a bond, but only after an Immigration Judge specifically finds that he or she is not a danger to the community and will not harm others.

Who actually pays the bond money?
Anyone with legal status can pay the full amount of the bond at the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.   The person who pays the bond is known as the “obligor” and the obligor can get the money back at the end of the immigration case if the person released on bond goes to all of his or her hearings and either wins his or her case or leaves the United States if the Immigration Judge orders deportation.

What is the difference between criminal bail and immigration bond?
Immigration bond is for an immigration case and criminal bail is for a criminal case.

What happens if the person released on bond flees the area and misses his or her immigration court hearing?
The obligor loses the bond money and will not get it back.  Immigration can arrest the person who flees and deport him or her if there is a final order of deportation.

What happens if the person released on bond wins his or her case?
The obligor asks Immigration for the bond money back by showing the original bond papers and the final order granting the relief from removal.

How does the National Immigrant Bond Fund help with bonds?
The National Immigrant Bond Fund works with local organizations who are representing or assisting people arrested in immigration raids.  These local organizations can ask the National Immigrant Bond Fund to pay half of the bond if they have helped the detainee raise the other half of the bond from family and friends.  The National Immigrant Bond Fund cannot help every person, however, since it does not have enough money.

If I donate to the National Immigrant Bond Fund, can I ask that the money go for a specific person?
No.  Your donation will go into the national pool of money that will help match the money that family and friends raise for a particular person. If you want to help a particular person with bond, you should contact the local organization assisting that person (or that person’s family) to be sure the money goes to his or her bond.

If I donate to the National Immigrant Bond Fund, will I get my money back at the end of the case?
No.  When the bond money is returned at the end of a case, the obligor will give the family and friends the money they paid, and will give the other half to the National Immigrant Bond Fund. The Fund will then use that money again to help other immigration detainees get out of immigration detention.  That way the Fund will be a revolving fund that will continue to help many others.

Will donations to the Fund be used solely for bond or will they also be used for staff costs of administering the Fund?
100% of money donated by individuals to the Fund will be used to pay bonds.  The Fund will seek grants from foundations to pay for staff costs and other expenses.


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