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Can a Felon Get a Travel Visa?

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Felons may have dreamed of traveling abroad before their conviction, and for some this may have been a reality.

Travel outside the U.S. requires a passport and often a visa as well.  If you’re in a hurry to get your visa or want someone to walk you through the process, I recommend you use this website to help.

This blog post will address the question of whether a felon can get a travel visa.

  • Travel Restrictions
  • Traveling to a Foreign Country
  • Requirements to Enter a Foreign Country
  • Question of a Visa
  • Keeping the Goal of Traveling Abroad
  • Encouraging a Felon to Travel to Abroad


Travel Restrictions

After their release, felons must complete the terms of their sentence, including probation.

During the probation period, felons are restricted from leaving the district in which they reside without permission from their probation officer.

Of course, travel outside the U.S. is out of the question until the conditions of probation have been satisfied entirely.

Once this is accomplished, travel beyond the U.S. border is possible.

They must obtain a passport allowing international travel.  Felons are able to obtain a passport.

Being convicted of drug trafficking or a crime of treason against the U.S. may prevent felons from being able to obtain a passport, as well as for anyone owing at least a certain amount of child support.

Having current legal charges pending can also prevent having a passport.  This is because leaving the country will be interpreted as an unlawful attempt to avoid prosecution, which is a federal crime.

Traveling to a Foreign Country

The only restriction for them flying to a foreign country would be if they have a felony warrant outstanding against them.

The other possible issue would be if their name is on what is called the no-fly list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for those suspected of being terrorists.

There are about 3500 names on this list at any time.  So, felons are probably OK for flying.

Going on a cruise is also a popular means of travel to traveling abroad.

There are two types of cruises, closed loop and open loop.  A closed loop cruise is one that starts and ends in the same U.S. port while an open loop cruise has different starting and final port city locations.

Felons may sail on either type of cruise, although the requirements for a closed loop cruise are less restrictive than for open loop cruises.

U.S. citizens going on a closed loop cruise can depart and enter the U.S. with only proof of citizenship.  This proof consists of an original or copy of a birth certificate and a government issued photo ID.

Open loop cruises require a passport, regardless of the starting or destination port.  Regardless of the type of cruise, having a passport is important for felons in case the ship docks at a foreign port on the route to another country.

Requirements to Enter a Foreign Country

Each foreign nation has several requirements all U.S. citizens, regardless of whether they are felons or not, must meet in order to gain entry.

First, the law states that they must be valid at least as long as their stay.

Any stay by a U.S. citizen of more than a specified amount of time, typically 30 or 60 days, will require a visa, which must be obtained prior to departing form the U.S.

For felons especially, their conduct while in another country is critical.  Of course they will want to stay out of legal difficulties.

This would obviously result in significant problems for felons who may find it extremely difficult to gain their release.  For those felons ending up in jail, legal counsel will be necessary.

It is best to strictly obey all laws and be able to leave the country as planned.

Question of a Visa

Each country establishes and maintains its standards for who is allowed to cross their border.

A visa may be required, depending on the purpose of the trip and the intended length of stay.

While a passport is a form of identification, a visa is a document that shows a traveler is allowed to enter a specific country for a certain length of time.

Some countries require a visa, some don’t, and some require one depending on the length of stay.

Most European countries are in the Schengen area, a collection of 26 nations allowing up to 90 days stay without a visa.

Many other countries also permit entry for 30-60 days without a visa.

Among the nations that require a visa for any visit by a U.S. citizen are almost all countries in Africa, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

A visa application can most easily be obtained from the embassy or consulate website or the country felons want to visit.

A visa application usually doesn’t have questions about a criminal record.

It can take from two weeks to two months to process it and obtain a visa, which is attached to their passport.

Keeping the Goal of Traveling Abroad

It is important for felons to not give up on traveling to a country following incarceration.  Thinking back on their restrictive time in prison can prompt many felons to want to travel.

They may have even dreamed of the day when this would once again be possible.  It is very important to not give up on those dreams.

Such dreams are an essential part of the rehabilitation process, the desire to live an honest life and to do the things that others without a felony conviction can do.

Travel outside of the U.S. is certainly an important part of this.

Encouraging a Felon to Travel Abroad

For families of felons who wish to travel abroad, it is important to encourage them to pursue this.

Don’t let them allow their mistakes from the past stop them from enjoying life again.  Restrictions will be there regardless unless they have their record expunged.

Families of felons who travel abroad can be helpful by encouraging them to travel outside the country for a sense of peace and relaxation.  A trip to another country can also be a great opportunity to re-connect with their family.

Once the decision has been made to travel, be supportive of their making the trip.

It is important to remind them that as a traveler to a foreign country, just being there as a non-citizen will bring them under more scrutiny.  For this reason and others, they must obey the laws and not draw the attention of the legal authorities to themselves.

Remind them of their commitment to live an honest life and how legal difficulties while in another country will only defeat these efforts and may result in returning to prison.

Approximately 69% of those released from prison return within the first two years.  Don’t let them be one of those statistics.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can get a travel visa?  Have you or someone you know gotten a travel visa with a felony?  What was that like, and were they successful?   Please tell us in the comments below.

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