If you’ve ever committed a crime, you might worry that you’ll never be able to travel again. As such, it’s a good idea to determine whether the crime for which you have been convicted will actually stop you from getting a passport.
One major issue regarding international travel, is a person’s eligibility. If you are unfortunate enough to have been convicted of a felony, the rules could change. As you know, some states strip you of the right to vote after being convicted of a criminal offence.
When most felons encounter travel problems, it’s because they are not eligible to get a visa. Only a very specific class of felons will be denied a passport, though, and knowing which category into which you fall can be important.
One primary reason for denial is a conviction for international drug trafficking. Other issues such as owing 5,000 dollars or more in child support or loans could disqualify someone from obtaining a passport as well.
A passport is a document that gives you the freedom to travel abroad, but it does not give you the freedom to visit any country you like.
Can a Felon Get a Passport?
The most straightforward answer to the question is ‘Yes’. There are many consequences of having a felony conviction. Some of these consequences are imprisonment and loss of some rights.
But, being a felon does not mean that you will be unable to acquire a passport, even after rehabilitation.
Things That Can Make A Felon Ineligible To Get A Passport
1. Drug-related convictions
If you were convicted of a drug-related offense, you might be unable to get a United States passport. Also, if you had a passport before your conviction, that passport may be seized by the government.
The severity of the drug-related crime you committed will also affect if your application for a passport is denied.
A conviction for international drug trafficking or intent to distribute will cause the government to seize your passport and deny you a new passport. Similarly, repeated arrests and convictions for drug trafficking will not work in your favor when you apply for a passport.
However, if you were caught in possession of a drug for personal use, the verdict may be different. The federal government may still grant your application for a passport.
2. Outstanding child support payments
The United States government will not grant your application for a passport if you owe child support payment. This stance applies even if you have a minor felony conviction. The government deprives individuals who owe child support of passports so that they are forced to pay child support.
If you owe more than $2500 in child support, Child Support Enforcement will inform the government. The government will revoke your passport and prevent you from being able to acquire a new one.
Once your passport has been revoked, you must pay the full amount you owe to get a new passport. The government can revoke your passport for non-payment of child support, even if you are not a convict.
You may also be denied a passport if you owe up to $2500 in spousal support. When you pay the full amount you owe, it will take 2-3 weeks before you can successfully apply for a new passport.
3. Unpaid taxes
Convicts can have their passports revoked, and their application denied if they have unpaid tax debts. The Internal Revenue Service sends the names of individuals that owe taxes to the government.
If the total amount of tax an individual owes is equaled to or more than $51,000, the individual will be unable to get a new passport. If you cannot pay off your taxes immediately, you can work with the IRS to create a payment plan.
4. Non-payment of government loans
If a convict has taken a government loan or owes the government money for medical services, they will be denied a passport. Similarly, if the convict required the help of the United States government to return to the United States, they will need to pay the government the amount spent on their return.
Until they pay back the amount they owe, the convict will be unable to get a passport.
5. Huge amounts of unpaid loans
The United States government may deny your application if you owe a financial institution a considerable sum of money. This is because there is a risk that if you leave the country, you will not return.
Hence, the government will deny you a passport until you pay back the loan.
6. Status of your sentence
Some felons can apply for a passport successfully. However, if you have not completed the terms of your sentence, the federal government will deny your application for a passport.
You will not be given a passport if you are still in prison, on parole, or participating in community service. Furthermore, if you have not paid the court-ordered restitution, your application will be denied.
Importantly, if you have completed the terms of your sentence, but you have committed another crime, your application will be denied.
7. Nature of the conviction
Felons who committed certain crimes may have a harder time getting approved for a passport. An example is ‘treason.’ Felons who were convicted of committing treason will be seen as a threat to the USA.
Hence, the government would prefer to monitor such individuals. Individuals convicted of drug trafficking will find their applications for a passport denied, as well.
Getting a Passport for a Convicted Felon
A first-time applicant must complete Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport online or in person at a Passport Agency or Passport Acceptance Facility. This form is used if you had a passport that has expired more than five years ago.
To renew an expired passport less than 15 years old, complete Form DS-82. For a lost or stolen passport, complete Form DS-64. Be as honest as you can. Fill out the form entirely to avoid delays.
You must provide proof of citizenship which can be a certified copy of your birth certificate, a previous passport, naturalization certificate, and certificate of citizenship or a consular report of birth abroad. Provide a copy of your photo identification, such as a driver’s license, current school, or military ID card.
Take two passport pictures of yourself in front of a white background. The photos should be current, within six months of passport application, clearly show your face, and be about 2 inches in size. Take the photos, documents, and application form in person to your nearest passport acceptance agent.
Gather your official court documents to show you no longer on probation or parole. You may not need to show these documents, but you can save yourself quite a bit of time and aggravation if you need to present them.
What Happens To A Felon Passport?
Essentially, if you were imprisoned abroad and took out loans to finance your release, or you have loans relating to reparations that you still haven’t paid off, you’ll be denied a passport.
However, even if you currently hold a passport issued prior to felony sentence or one that was not seized by the court, the Secretary of State has the power to invalidate it.
It’s always a good idea to determine if you’re eligible for international travel at all. Taking a close look at passport requirements is always a good first step to determine whether you’ll be able to leave the country legally.
We hope you found this article useful. If any of this information needs to be updated or amended, please don’t hesitate to contact us on our webpage.