Voluntary Departure Defined

Voluntary departure permits an individual, who is otherwise removable, to leave the United States at his/her own expense within a certain period of time. The court may grant voluntary departure prior to or after a removal order has been entered. However, voluntary departure is not available in all cases. Whether a person in eligible will depend on a number of factors specific to his/her particular circumstances.

Voluntary Departure vs. Removal Order

Voluntary departure is a better option than a removal order for a number of reasons some of which include:

  1. If an individual voluntarily departs within the time ordered by the court, he/she will not be barred from legally re-entering in the future.
  2. If an individual is issued a removal order he/she may be barred from re-entering the United States for up to 10 years and may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties if he/she enters without proper authorization.
  3. An individual with a removal order is barred from applying for 10 years for cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, and other immigration benefits.

One possible strategy for obtaining your legal status in the U.S. may require you to petition from outside the United States through consulate processing. Voluntary departure prior to a removal order being issued against you will keep this as an option. You may then file the necessary petitions to re-enter the United States together with necessary waiver(s) at a U.S. Consulate.