CAN A FELON GET A PASSPORT? Best US Practices in 2022

Can a felon get a passport

Everyone is aware that a criminal conviction has both direct and indirect implications. One of these outcomes is the denial of your passport application or the cancellation of your current passport. It’s crucial to note, however, that a person who has been convicted of a crime is not automatically denied a passport. This article answers every question you may have with regards to whether or not, a felon can get a passport.

Can a Felon Get a Passport: Overview

Convictions for felonies have both direct and indirect effects, and you may be unable to obtain a U.S. passport as a result. The regulations determining which felons are ineligible for passports are fairly specific, and unless you fall under one of the categories, you’ll be able to apply for and acquire a passport in the same manner as everyone else. If you are a felon who is unable to obtain a passport, there is little that can be done to help you obtain one other than a pardon.

Who Can Get a Passport as a Felon or Non- Felon?

Let’s start with some definitions: a passport is a travel document granted by a country to its citizens and, in some cases, stateless people or refugees.

Citizenship is, in the vast majority of circumstances, the tool that allows you to obtain a passport.

This is important to note not only to clarify the distinction between citizenship and a passport, but also because some naturalized citizens may face denaturalization if they commit a limited number of crimes, making them ineligible for a passport based on their lack of citizenship.

Assume, however, that you are a natural-born US citizen who has committed a crime. The answer to the question “Can a convict get a passport?” is probably “yes,” but there are a few stipulations.

Felonies that disqualify you

The world has changed. Originally, a felony was a crime of moral turpitude, a violation of the community’s moral standards. The moral criterion is no longer widely used, and most states and the federal government define a felony as a crime punishable by more than a year in jail. Obviously, felonies cover a wide spectrum of crimes, including murder and treason, as well as other drug offences and financial misdeeds.

A person who has been convicted of a felony is not automatically barred from applying for a passport in the United States. Keep in mind that a passport is not a trip ticket. It is, rather, a sort of international identification that allows you to return to the United States if you travel outside of the country. However, the right to enter another country is governed by that country’s legislation regarding who is allowed to enter.

Only offenders convicted of international drug trafficking are eligible for a passport in this country. That example, if a person crossed an international border while trafficking drugs and was arrested and sentenced for it, he/she will be denied a passport.

If a passport applicant has been convicted of a misdemeanor (lesser) state or federal drug conviction, the Department can, but is not required, to exclude the individual. A first-time possession of a controlled substance conviction, on the other hand, cannot be used to justify refusal.

Other Causes of Passport Refusal

As earlier mentioned, people with a criminal record or previous felony charges are not automatically disqualified from obtaining passports, according to the State Department.

The State Department will usually approve your passport application if your conviction is from the past and you are not currently on probation.

The items listed below will prevent you from obtaining a passport.

#1. Drug-Related Felony Convictions

International drug trafficking is the only form of criminal charge that instantly disqualifies you from obtaining a US passport.

To put it another way, if you crossed borders while committing a drug trafficking felony, you might not be able to obtain a passport.

#2. Convictions for Other drugs

As previously stated, international drug trafficking is the only drug offence that will automatically disqualify you or a felon from obtaining a passport.

Even though being arrested for drug possession is a felony, the federal government will nevertheless issue you a passport, especially if it was your first conviction.

Nonetheless, the State Department may decide to decline your passport application in some situations and based on other criteria.

You may not be able to obtain a passport if you are currently under criminal arrest or probation, or if the court has determined that you are a flight risk.

You may also be denied if the government considers you a national security threat.

#3. Having a Child Support Debt

Even if you haven’t committed any crimes, you may still be denied a passport.

If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you won’t be able to receive a passport, according to the State Department.

Your application may be granted if you owe less than that.

#4. Taxes owed to the federal government that have not been paid

Only if you have a substantial outstanding tax liability will you be denied a passport due to unpaid federal taxes.

In that situation, the IRS may send your case to the State Department, which has the authority to revoke your current passport and deny your renewal application.

What does it mean to have a substantially delinquent tax debt?

On the IRS website, you may learn more about the details.

If you owe less than $55,000 in taxes, though, you can rest easy because this law does not apply to you.

#5. Federal loans that have not been repaid

You may be denied a passport if you have certain types of delinquent government loans.

They do not, contrary to popular belief, include outstanding college debt.

Instead, they comprise federal assistance loans that you received from the government to help you pay for a medical emergency or repatriation costs while you were abroad.

Instead of applying for a federal loan, look into the best grants for criminals.

Plus, because this is a tricky situation, we recommend doing everything you can to collect the money that doesn’t need to be repaid so you can be safe.

#5. Failure to Meet the Age Requirements

Passports have no minimum age limit.

You can apply for a passport regardless of your age or the age of your child.

Certain requirements, however, apply to children under the age of 16.

Your application will be declined if you do not use the correct form.

Here’s how to get a passport for your children under the age of 16.

What Factors Are Considered When Obtaining a Passport?

You will be denied a passport if you are currently on conditional parole that prevents you from traveling internationally.

You will be denied a passport if you are currently on conditional parole that prevents you from traveling internationally.

As you may have thought before now, all there is to obtaining a passport is that you provide your information, pay your cost, and pose for a sober passport photo, and you’re guaranteed to receive a passport, right? Wrong. For a variety of reasons, including failing to pay child support, as mentioned above, the State Department can and will deny your passport application.

In some cases, federal law prohibits the use of passports.

In other situations, federal law prevents the State Department from providing a passport to a person who meets all other requirements and has completed the application and submitted all required documentation. Some financial difficulties, as well as some kinds of criminal background, are among these factors.

When a citizen is overseas, alone or with family, and lacks the financial means to return to the United States, the government may pay for the travel in order to repatriate that person or persons to the country. The cost of repatriation, however, is not a gift nor a privilege of citizenship. It’s a loan that needs to be paid back. You won’t be able to get a passport if you have this type of loan and aren’t paying it back.

Child support debts, on the other hand, can preclude an applicant from acquiring a passport. You will not be able to obtain a passport if you owe $2,500 or more in back child support, and these amounts have been recognized as arrears by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Background Investigations

When you apply for a passport at a passport acceptance office, it takes around a month for the government to process your application. During that month, you will be subjected to an inquiry to check if any of these events exist in your background. While no one can ensure that every one of these items is looked into in every case, the majority of warrants, court orders, and federal government liens are all stored in a searchable database that government employees may access.

Obtaining a Passport as a Felon

A first-time applicant must fill out Form DS-11: Application for a United States Passport either online or at a Passport Agency or Passport Acceptance Facility in person. If your passport has been expired for more than five years, you must fill out this form. However, complete Form DS-82 to renew a passport that is less than 15 years old. Fill out Form DS-64 to report a lost or stolen passport. Be as truthful as possible. To avoid delays, completely fill out the form.

Basically a certified copy of your birth certificate, a previous passport, naturalization certificate, and certificate of citizenship, or a consular report of birth abroad are all acceptable forms of proof of citizenship. Furthermore, a copy of your photo identity, such as a driver’s license, current school ID card, or military ID card, should be provided.

Then take a photo of yourself twice in front of a white background for your passport. The images must be recent, taken within six months of your passport application, clearly showing your face, and be approximately 2 inches in size. Bring the photos, documentation, and application form to your local passport acceptance agent in person.

Also to prove that you are no longer on probation or parole, gather your formal court documentation. You may not need to show these documents, but if you do, you will save a lot of time and frustration.

What Happens to a Convicted Criminal’s Passport?

Even if the passport was obtained before the crime, a felon with a valid passport could have it revoked by the courts. The Secretary of State could declare the passport invalid if it was not confiscated. If you owe child support, unpaid federal taxes, or have outstanding federal loans, the same rules apply. Taking away a felon’s passport will deter him from escaping to a country that does not have extradition treaties with the US.

So long as you don’t have an international felony drug conviction, you can, pretty much, get a U.S. passport even as a convicted felon. However, due to your position as a convicted felon, other nations can decide to reject your passport.

How Does Passport Renewal for Convicted a Felon Work?

If you are a convicted felon, there is no practical difference in the renewal process.

Fill out the correct application form and mail it to the State Department or a passport acceptance center.

Make sure you have all of the necessary paperwork, including proof of citizenship, such as your birth certificate (if you don’t have your old passport).

And depending on the application type, there may be a price associated with passport applications, so make sure to include that information as well.

Can a Convicted Felon Travel to Other Countries?

Convicted felons are generally allowed to travel to most nations.

Some nations, however, may refuse you admission.

Whether or not you are a citizen of the nation to which you are traveling can also be a consideration.

In general, countries do not immediately disclose information about their criminal histories. Only countries with common borders or close allies usually have such a history.

So, if you’re traveling from the US to Canada, there’s a significant probability that Canadian immigration will be aware of your criminal history.

Some nations, however, require you to apply for a visa before being allowed to enter.

It’s possible that the visa application form will inquire if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony, which could influence your chances of approval.

Furthermore, just because you can travel to a foreign country as a convicted felon does not mean you can apply for residency or citizenship in that country.

Many nations require you to obtain a police report from your home country attesting to a clean criminal record when applying for residency, which might complicate matters and lead to your residency being denied by the foreign country’s immigration office.

Is a Felony Record a Problem Once You’re in the Country?

That is debatable.

As I previously stated, if you are a US citizen, you may normally obtain a passport even if you have previously been convicted of a felony.

It’s unlikely to matter once you’ve been given access to a foreign country.

If you are a green card holder in the United States and commit an aggravated felony, drug offenses, sex offenses, or other offences, your application for renewal may be denied.

It’s also possible that you won’t be able to seek for citizenship any longer.

If you committed a crime while a non-citizen in the United States, you should contact an immigration attorney for assistance.

What Countries Do not Allow Anyone With a Felony Record to Enter?

Only a few countries have laws prohibiting convicted felons from entering.

They are as follows:

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain
  • Northern Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Japan

That does not, however, imply that all criminals are prohibited in those countries.

For example, only offenders serving a 12-month or longer prison sentence are allowed to enter Australia.

People who have served a four-year or longer jail sentence for a single offense are not eligible in the United Kingdom.

If your sentence was shorter than four years, you may be permitted to enter the UK once five or ten years have passed since your sentence was completed.

Foreign citizens who have served a prison sentence of five years or more are permanently barred from entering New Zealand, while those who have served a prison sentence of twelve months or less are temporarily barred for 10 years.

Because each country has its own set of immigration restrictions, which can change at any time, it’s a good idea to research the immigration laws of the country you’re visiting before boarding an aircraft.

Last Thoughts

It is not the end of the world if you are convicted of a felony.

You can still apply for and acquire a passport unless you have committed international drug trafficking, are still on probation, or have been declared a flight risk.

You will also be able to travel to a variety of countries.

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