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Can a Felon Move Out of the Country?

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As those who have been convicted of a felony realize, life as they knew it prior to the conviction is over.

That doesn’t mean that life is over, just that nothing will ever be the same again.

Some felons believe that no matter what they do, their felony conviction will prevent them from succeeding in this country.

This blog post will address the question of whether a felon can move out of the country.

  • Effects of a Felony
  • Employment and Housing
  • Relationships
  • Making a Move
  • Guidelines for Moving Out of the Country
  • Supporting a Felon in Moving Out of the Country


Effects of a Felony

When they were convicted of their felony, certain civil rights were lost or restricted.  They still maintained the right to indictment, a speedy trial, and no self-incrimination.

Others, however, were lost.  Among these are the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, own or possess firearms.

Employment and Housing

Employers typically conduct a background check on applicants, making it challenging to find a job.  Felons may think no one will hire them.

Many employers won’t hire felons, believing they are dishonest and likely to commit a crime on the job.  Or employers fear the public finding out they hire felons, damaging the company’s reputation and losing business.

Housing will be more challenging to locate because many housing sources won’t rent to felons because of the safety threat they may represent.  There are resources available to assist with obtaining housing in each of the States.

Felons may find it difficult to obtain federal assistance for food stamps and higher education.  They may not be able to receive grants, loans, or work study in pursuing additional education.


Many felons may not have had the best relationship with their families because they were living their criminal life, associating with the wrong crowd, hanging out in bad places, and not having a stable job.

Once they were convicted, although many family members may have remained supportive, others, including spouses, significant others, and children may no longer be willing to offer emotional support.  Marriages end and relationships are damaged or destroyed.

That trust they once had from family and friends is no longer there.  Felons are looked at differently after that conviction.  Family members feel betrayed, hurt, and angry.

Family and friends may no longer be around.  New relationships may be difficult to establish because they are no longer seen or treated the same again.

Sure, felons are the ones who messed up, broke the law, got caught, convicted, sentenced, and served the time they earned from their misdeeds.

But life is not the same again.  That respect they once received is diminished, their reputation to never again to be the same.  Felons are viewed as dishonest, lying, untrustworthy, and lacking integrity.

It’s not just families that see felons in a different light.  Society turns its back on them.

Making a Move

With all of these factors working against them, many felons consider moving to get a new start.

For some, this may be going to a new state.

The new state will be a new beginning and the opportunity to establish an honest life with positive support.

Other felons believe that even moving to a new state won’t make any difference.

They may think that they will face the same issues and that the laws and the government will continue to be against them and restrict them from positively changing their lives.

Some felons consider moving out of the country.  They may have previously visited or lived in another country.  They may have family or friends living in a different country.

While it can seem attractive to move to another country, it isn’t as easy as moving to a different state in the U.S.

Guidelines for Moving Out of the Country

Each country has guidelines for allowing visitors to enter and remain in their country.  These rules are laid down under a visa with different criteria according to each nation.

Many countries don’t require a visa for those staying less than 60 or 90 days.  For those wanting to live in a country, a visa is typically necessary in addition to a valid passport.

Some countries have regulations that affect felons’ ability to immigrate there.

Canada excludes anyone convicted of any offense for at least five years.  Then, they must be certified by the Canadian Minister of Immigration as rehabilitated.

Australia excludes anyone who has been sentenced to a term of 12 months or more.

New Zealand denies residence to persons convicted of an offense of 12 months or more in the past ten years.  They permanently exclude anyone who has served a sentence five years or more.

The UK permanently bars all who have been sentenced to more than 30 months in prison for a single offense.

Japan has a zero tolerance policy against those with a drug conviction.

Permanent residence status in most countries is reserved for persons to live and work indefinitely in their country.

Requirements for permanent residency usually include a clear criminal record while living there, continuous residence, a means of support (job, business, or supporting family member).

In order to be employed in their new country, all persons must obtain a work permit.  The regulations for these vary and can be checked on at the nation’s consulate in the U.S. prior to any move.

Contacting an immigration attorney before moving is essential.

Most countries require passing a language or culture exam.

Permanent residents are not citizens of that country and can be expelled for a serious criminal conviction there or failure to pay U.S. taxes on their job in the providing country.

In most countries, citizenship can be applied for after about five years, giving individuals dual citizenship.

Nations that don’t allow dual citizenship include Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Japan, Norway, and Singapore.

Supporting a Felon in Moving Out of the Country

There is a lot to consider for felons considering moving to another country.

For families of felons wanting to move out of the country, be honest with your loved one.  Moving can provide a new start, but they will still have to be careful to obey the law in the new country.

Moving doesn’t provide an escape from what has been done in the past.  However, felons don’t have to let their conviction define or limit them.

The new country will be a new beginning and the opportunity to establish an honest life with positive support.

Help your loved one move forward by encouraging them to make the most of a new opportunity.  You and they will be grateful you did.

So what do you think about this blog post?  Have you or anyone you know moved out of the country with a felony conviction?  What was that like for them and were they successful?  Please tell us in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “Can a Felon Move Out of the Country?”

  1. You asked what I thought so let me tell you. You make some good points about background drama, but you don’t give any real solutions for moving forward. I appreciate your attempt at providing useful information.

  2. I have a question. I have f3 felon for license not carry fire arm with out license or hostle I wonder can I still move to Philippines and get Visa there with no pomblem

    • It depends on the crime and when the crime was committed. Check with the Immigration office in Panama.


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