If you find yourself in immigration detention and believe that you are eligible for bond, you may be wondering when and how your bond hearing will be scheduled.
Bond hearings are separate from your normal immigration court proceedings. At your immigration hearing, the judge determines whether you can remain in the United States. At your bond hearing, the judge will decide whether you should be released from immigration detention while your case is pending and how much money (if any) you must pay in order to be released.
If you wish to request a bond hearing, you must take active steps to do so—no one will offer you one otherwise.
It is up to you to request bond. Unlike your immigration court proceeding, you do not receive information from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Immigration Court regarding your bond hearing.
Some immigration judges may choose to discuss bond eligibility with detained immigrants, but this is largely dependent on the individual judge. Furthermore, while you can discover information about your pending immigration case by calling the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) hotline (1-800-898-7180), information about your bond hearing will not be available over the phone.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may, however, have set an initial bond amount when it first detained you. You can see this initial bond determination by reviewing your ICE Form I-286, if you received a copy.
There are several ways to go about requesting a bond hearing. First, make sure you haven’t requested one already. You may have done so by checking a box in Form I-286 that states, “I do…request a redetermination of this custody decision by an immigration judge” and “I acknowledge receipt of this notification.”
If you do not have a copy of your Form I-286 or are not sure how to obtain it, however, it is fine to file a separate request for a bond hearing.
You can request a bond hearing in writing and send it to the Immigration Court that has jurisdiction over your case. You can also request your bond hearing orally, while at your first (or even a subsequent) Master Calendar hearing in immigration court.
If you request a bond hearing in writing, you should include a copy of your Notice to Appear (if you have received it). Also include your full name, your alien registration number (A-number), and the facility where you are detained. You do not need to include a fee payment.
At your bond hearing, you will need to file evidence in support of your request to be released, such as a letter of support from your sponsor, proof of eligibility for immigration relief, evidence of good moral character, proof of community ties, and so forth. You need not file your supporting evidence in advance of your bond hearing, but you can do so if you want.
At your Master Calendar hearing, you can make an oral request, in which case you do not need to submit anything in writing. The Immigration Judge will either stop your current proceeding and conduct the bond hearing immediately, finish your current proceeding and conduct a bond hearing afterwards, or calendar your bond hearing for another date. This decision is up to the Immigration Judge.
If your bond hearing is scheduled for a different date, the court will schedule it as soon as possible. Unlike your immigration proceeding, your bond hearing is less formal and not recorded. Moreover, the evidence submitted in your bond hearing is considered separate from the evidence and record of your immigration court proceeding.
In rare cases, the Immigration Judge may also allow detainees to request bond by telephone. You can find the phone numbers for each Immigration Court at www.justice.gov/eoir.
If you request a bond hearing, be prepared to move forward with demonstrating your eligibility immediately. Do not file your request for a bond hearing if you do not yet have your evidence and witnesses available. If you make an oral motion for bond at your Master Calendar hearing, the judge will move forward with your bond proceeding that same day or very shortly afterwards. If you submit a written request, the bond hearing will likewise be scheduled soon.
Typically, you have only one chance to make your case for bond. Therefore, it is essential to be well prepared. Otherwise, if the judge denies bond or sets the amount too high, you may be detained during the entire time your immigration case is being decided upon (including any appeals).
If you are not prepared to move forward with your bond hearing right away, simply inform the judge that you need more time to gather evidence, and the judge will probably grant your request.
Only in very limited circumstances can you request a second bond hearing. In order to do so, you must show that your circumstances have changed significantly since the judge’s last decision. This request can be submitted only in writing.
Finally, while you do have the option to appeal the Immigration Judge’s bond determination to the Board of Immigration Appeals (B.I.A.), the judge’s decision will stand in the meantime.