Detained Immigrant Bond

If the police arrest you for committing a crime and put you in jail, they often give you the chance to pay some money to get out. Here, in Wisconsin, it is called bail. In some other states it’s called bond. Regardless, unless you are a U.S. citizen, you likely DO NOT want to pay bail to get out of criminal jail. You will probably prefer staying there because if you leave, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can pick you up. This will make your life much more complicated. Once the deportation process starts, it is really hard to stall for time to try to keep you in the United States. 

However, if you are put into ICE Detention, the money you would pay to get out is always called a bond. You must meet certain qualifications to be offered an ICE bond, and you must come to your bond hearing well prepared.

Background Image: Handwoven Shawl, Mali

Published: 10-4-2019

Immigration law is always changing. We will do our best to keep our website as up-to-date as possible, but the latest information might be more readily available at These pages were written to help you better understand your legal options, however, none of the information published by Catholic Charities Milwaukee should be considered legal advice. If you plan to open your own immigration case, hire an immigration attorney to consult you personally.

ICE Detention

Know Your Rights

If ICE arrests you, do not sign anything you do not understand. This can have devastating consequences. Also, you have the right to make a phone call. Use it to contact a friend, family member, or attorney.

Know Your Risks

Immigrants with criminal arrests and those who have been previously deported are at a much higher risk of being taken into ICE custody. Create a detention plan as soon as possible. This will significantly reduce stress for you and your family in case you are ever arrested. Learn more on our Detention Preparedness page.

ICE Bond



If ICE takes you into custody, they may or may not offer you a bond because not everyone is eligible. Certain criminal arrests make you ineligible for bond, and if you have any on your record you should work with a lawyer now so that your criminal conviction won’t lead to your deportation. Even if you are eligible for a bond, in order to earn it, you must prove that you are (1) not a flight risk; and (2) not a danger to society.

Not a Flight Risk

Basically, this means that you will come back to court. The easiest way to show the judge that you are not a flight risk is to show that you have a way to fix your immigration problem. However, if there is no way to fix your problem, most judges assume you are a flight risk and that instead of coming back to court, you will go into hiding.

Not a Danger to Society

If you have certain convictions on your record, the judge may think you are a danger to society. For example, if you have a criminal conviction for drunk driving or for domestic violence, there is a very good chance the judge will consider you a danger to society. 

A judge can look as far back into your personal history as they want, even if the statute, or timeframe of your case is limited. This is why you should take steps to show rehabilitation as soon as you have any kind of criminal conviction on your record. Some ways to demonstrate rehabilitation:

  • Attend court-ordered anger management classes;
  • Participate in an alcohol or drug assessment; and/or
  • See a counselor or therapist.

Ask for a Bond

Even if you are eligible for a bond, it is possible that ICE may not offer it to you. Alternatively, they may offer you a bond, but the cost may be really high. In either event, you can ask your immigration judge if you can have a bond or a lower bond, but you have to request it. The judge will not automatically decide on your bond without you asking first.

Be Prepared for Your Bond Hearing

It is important that you thoroughly prepare for your bond hearing because in most cases, you get to ask for a bond only once. You will need at least three copies of everything: one for the immigration judge; one for the attorney representing immigration; and one for your own records. If your bond hearing does not go well, you can appeal an immigration judge’s decision, however you will have to wait in detention while your appeal is pending.

The only way that you can ask for a bond a second time is if you can show that something has changed since the first bond hearing and you are no longer a flight risk or a danger to the community. Unfortunately, few detention centers offer any counseling which is why it is important to show rehabilitation as soon as you have any conviction on your record. 

Paying for a Detained Immigrant Bond

If you get a detained immigrant bond through ICE, there are two ways that you can pay for it. You can either pay the whole bond in cash or you can use a bonding company.

Paying in Cash

First, you should know that not every ICE office will accept bond payments. On their website, you can find a list of which ICE offices will accept bond payments in cash.


The person actually posting the bond must fulfill the following requirements. He or she must:

The person who posts the bond does not have to personally provide the money. The immigrant in detention or their family can provide the money. The person posting the bond only has to read and sign the bond forms from ICE. These forms are like a contract and you should not sign what you do not understand.

Acceptable Forms of Cash

You can either pay a bond with a bank cashier’s check or through a money order. However, any bond over $10,000 must be paid with a bank cashier’s check. The advantage to paying in cash is that you will get all of the money back if the detained immigrant does everything that he or she is supposed to do. However, if a detained immigrant does not fulfill all that the court requires, whoever pays the bond will likely lose that money.

When you pay a bond, ICE will give you some important papers that you need to keep safe because you will need them to get the bond back.

Paying with a Bonding Company

There are some advantages of using a bonding company. First, they will coordinate all the forms and paperwork with ICE. They will also let you know when the detained immigrant is being released. Another advantage is that you do not need the full value of the bond. Usually, you only pay about 20% of the bond.

The disadvantage is that you will not get this money back (your 20% payment). It is the fee that the bonding company charges for the bond. The bonding company will want some collateral because if a detained immigrant does not comply with everything the court requires, they must pay the rest of the bond to immigration. Afterwards, the bonding company will come to whomever signed with the them for the rest of the money. In other words, whoever posts bond on behalf of the detained immigrant will have to make sure the bonding company gets the rest of their money.


If you plan to pay through a bonding company, carefully research them before you sign anything. Some bonding companies have lots of hidden fees and the eventual cost will be a lot higher than you think. For example, some bonding companies will tell you that you could put the bond on a credit card, but those tend to have high interest rates and you will have to pay off both the credit card interest and the bond. At Catholic Charities Milwaukee, we have had good experiences with Gonzales and Gonzales. Learn about about them at their website.

After You Pay Bond

ICE will not let a detained immigrant leave directly from the detention facility. Rather they will take him or her to an ICE office for processing. In the Milwaukee area, this means that the detained immigrant will be taken to Chicago. This ICE office is located at 101 W Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL.

The timing on this can be tricky because Immigration does not tell the family exactly when an immigrant will be let out of custody. You might not hear from your loved one until after they have already been released from detention.

Seek the Help of a Good Lawyer

We Can't Stress This Enough

Navigating an ICE bond is not something that you should do yourself, nor should it be done by an attorney without extensive immigration experience. Do your homework ahead of time and look for a good immigration attorney who really understands how criminal and immigration law interacts. You do not want to wait to hire an immigration attorney until after someone has been picked up by ICE. Do your research. It might be the most important thing that you do to help yourself or someone you love.

Frequently Asked Questions

Detained Immigrant Bond FAQ

No, there are specific requirements. You have to be at least eighteen years old, and be either a lawful permanent resident or a United States citizen.

You would need proof that you are a lawful permanent resident, but you still can post for bond.

In general, bonds work the same way throughout the United States with one exception. Bond rules will be stricter if you are caught as an “arriving alien” at the border trying to enter the United States. Arriving aliens, immigrants caught at the border, cannot appeal a bond determination to a judge. They are stuck with whatever ICE offers them.

Within the United States, the median bond amount in 2018 was $7,500, which is a big increase from a few years ago. The median bond at the Chicago court in 2018 was $5,000. However, bonds offered at the border tend to be higher. 

Additional Resources

One of the most common deportation defenses is called cancellation of removal, but if you are undocumented, your specific requirements will differ from those of lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and citizens who naturalized.

The events outlined in this blog post represent the typical timeline for the detention and deportation process. Some, or all of these scenarios could apply to you if you are (1) picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or (2) if your case is referred to the immigration court.

If you are at risk for being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) you need to prepare yourself now. Making arrangements ahead of time will save you and your family a lot of stress if you ever become detained.