Have you recently posted an immigration bond? Do you want to know how to get an immigration bond refund? If so, read the information here.
Although an immigration arrest may feel swift, deportation proceedings often are not. They may take weeks, months, or years, depending on the time required to gather evidence and paperwork.
For many families, the time between arrest and the final verdict is spent outside detention on bond. Either ICE or an immigration judge grants those they believe to be low-risk the option to pay the bond and follow a set of conditions to go home.
The bond is refundable as long as ICE determines that the bonded person met all the requirements of the bond. But how do you go about getting the money back? Like all immigration processes, it requires more paperwork and more waiting. Here's what you need to know about getting an immigration bond refund.
Immigration Bond Refunds Start Automatically
If the bonded person meets all the conditions (attending hearings, complying with deportation, etc.), then ICE cancels the bond on its own.
The cancellation is the easiest part of the process because you don't have to do anything.
Unfortunately, it can all become complex from here on out thanks in part to the time elapsed since the proceedings began.
ICE starts by sending you Form I-391, which cancels the debt. It also sends a copy to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The trouble is that the form arrives by mail, and it will arrive at the address listed when you first applied for the bond. If you live at the same address, it's no problem.
If you moved, you need to retrieve it from your old address. This can be the most troublesome part of the process.
What if the Bond Was Breached?
Breaching the conditions of the bond prevents you from receiving a full refund. If the government considers the bond breached, you know because you receive a Form I-323 in the mail.
If you receive Form I-323, then you forfeit the principal balance. However, you can ask to receive the accrued interest.
How to Apply for an Immigration Bond Refund
Once you have Form I-391, you then need to compile the rest of your paperwork. You need your Form I-305 (original immigration bond) and Form I-352 (bond contract). You then send all three forms to the following DHS address:
Debt Management Center, Attention: Bond Unit
P.O. Box 5000
All this assumes you have your original paperwork. It's not uncommon for at least one of these forms to go missing while you wait for the proceedings to come to an end.
Here's what to do if you're missing a form.
How to Replace Form I-305
Form I-305 is the original immigration bond form. If you can't find it, then you have an alternative form to fill in.
You can download Form I-395, which is the Affidavit in Lieu of Lost Receipt of United States ICE for Collateral Accepted as Security.
Before you add the form to your pile, you must sign it in front of a notary public, who then notarizes it and prepares it for submission.
Once it's ready, you can then submit I-395 as well as Form I-391 and I-391 to DHS at the address above.
How Long Does an Immigration Bond Refund Take?
Once you send the forms to the DHS Debt Management Center, you then wait for them to process the debt.
It takes around four weeks to a couple of months on average.
You then receive the original bond plus any applicable interest.
If you have questions, DHS allows you to contact the Debt Management Center by telephone.
How Much of the Money Can I Keep?
If you paid a cash bond directly to ICE, then the full refund is yours as soon as it arrives.
However, cash bonds are increasingly rare. In recent years, judges began to set higher and higher immigration bonds. As recently as 2006, the median bond was $50. By 2008, it grew to $5,000. In 2017, it rose again to $8,000. Forty percent of immigration bonds in 2017 were set at $10,000 ore more.
Remember, ICE tends to set the bonds. Judges may weigh-in and lower the bonds in a hearing. But if ICE asks for $50,000, then it is unlikely a judge will reduce it to $2,000.
With so much at stake and increasingly high bonds, many families wonder how to pay immigration bond.
For many, the answer is surety bonds.
How Do I Get a Surety Bond Refund?
A surety bond allows you to put up far more money than you have in cash in exchange for up to 20 percent of the total bond amount. You can put this up in cash or collateral.
You can put money down using:
Personal property (home, land, etc.)
Cash and liquid assets
Letter of credit
A bond company will rarely accept cars as collateral.
The bond company manages the process on your behalf. When you agree to purchase a surety bond, they "post" the bond at the relevant DHS/ICE office. This allows the bonded person to leave detention.
When the bonded person completes their obligations and ICE cancels the bond, the bond company receives its money back form DHS using the same paperwork you would for a cash bond.
As soon as the bond refund reaches the provider, they let the collateral go. For example, if the bond provider put a $10,000 hold on your credit card, they would remove it when ICE cancels the bond. However, the premium you pay (the 15-20 percent) is generally non-refundable.
The bottom line: you get your collateral back, but the downpayment is a non-refundable fee.
Get Out of Detention and Get Your Cash Back
Nothing about immigration detention is easy, and unfortunately, that includes getting your immigration bond refund.
All refunds are contingent on the bonded person completing their obligations and ICE canceling the bond. If ICE considers the bonded person to be in breach of the conditions, no one gets a refund. That means you can be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.
Did you find this article helpful? For more ways of funding a bond, visit our debt archive.