Paid an Immigration Bond? How to Get Money Back

Assuming the alien appears for all court hearings and follows all the orders of the court, the person who posted the bond (the obligor) should get his or her money back.

When an immigrant is arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), perhaps after cross the border into the U.S. without any documents, or after being encountered within the U.S., ICE will normally place the person into a detention facility. There, the person will meet with an immigration judge, who will set a bond amount so the can be let go pending the outcome of immigration court proceedings.

It can take months or years before those court proceedings are over. Assuming the person does, indeed, show up for all of them, and comply with the judge's orders (including any deportation order), whoever paid the bond money is allowed to get it back. But how do you go about doing so?

What Is Bond for Immigration Court?

Bond is money paid to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which allows a detained alien to be released from detention but gives the court leverage to make sure that the person shows up for immigration court proceedings.

The amount of the bond is determined by the immigration judge at a bond hearing. (For more about bond hearings, see What Happens at a Bond Hearing in Immigration Court.) If the foreign-born person (referred to as an "alien" in U.S. immigration law) fails to appear at court hearings, or does not comply with orders of the court, the bond is revoked, meaning that the federal government keeps the bond money.

By contrast, if the alien appears for all court hearings and follows all the orders of the court, the person who posted the bond (the obligor) gets his or her money back. Be aware that the obligor must either be an American citizen or an immigrant with legal immigration status.

How to Get Your Immigration Bond Back

After your family member or friend met all the conditions of the bond (attending all hearings and complying with any deportation order) ICE should send a notice of immigration bond cancellation (Form I-391) to both the obligor (we're assuming that's you) and to the Department of Homeland Security’s Debt Management Center.

If, however, you moved between the time you paid the bond and the time of your relative’s deportation, it's probable that the notice was sent to your old address.

Assuming you eventually receive Form I-391, you must send that form, along with your original immigration bond receipt (Form I-305) to the Debt Management Center, Attention: Bond Unit, located at P.O. Box 5000, Williston, Vermont, 05495-5000. Also send along a copy of the bond contract (Form I-352) if you still have it.

What If I Don't Have the Original Form I-305?

If you can’t find or otherwise misplaced your original Form I-305, don’t panic. Go to the forms section of the ICE website and select Form I-395, Affidavit in Lieu of Lost Receipt of United States ICE for Collateral Accepted as Security.

Print the form and bring it to a notary public, where you will sign it. Once Form I-395 has been signed and notarized, send it, along with Form I-391 (the notice) and a copy of Form I-352 (the bond contract) to the Debt Management Center.

Again, send the following items to the Debt Management Center:

  • I-391 (the notice)
  • original I-305 (the bond receipt)
  • copy of I-352 (the bond contract) if you have it.

If you lost your original I-305, get Form I-395 notarized and send it instead of the I-305.

When the Debt Management Center receives your forms, it will process your bond refund. You should then receive a refund of the original bond amount along with any interest that accrued. This process usually takes a couple of months. If you have questions concerning your immigration bond refund, call the Debt Management Center at 802-288-7600, then select option 2.

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