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Can a Felon Travel to the Virgin Islands?

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After release from prison and completing their terms of probation, felons are of course allowed to travel freely throughout the U.S.  Such is not the case when wanting to travel beyond this country’s borders.

This blog post will cover whether felon is allowed to travel to the Virgin Islands.

  • Travel Restrictions
  • The Virgin Islands as a Territory
  • Traveling to a U.S. Territory
  • Why the U.S. Virgin Islands?
  • Supporting a Felon Visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands


Travel Restrictions

Upon their release from prison, felons must complete the terms of their sentence, which typically involves being on 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.

Typically, they must obtain a passport, which felons are able to do.

The Virgin Islands as a Territory

The Virgin Islands consist of two separate entities, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.  Of course, only the U.S. Virgin Islands consisting of three islands, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, are the U.S. held territory and subject to the requirements discussed in this blog post.

The first thought might be that a passport is necessary to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

It isn’t, however, because the U.S. Virgin Islands are not a separate, independent country but rather are a territory of the U.S.

A U.S. held territory is much like a colony was in earlier historical times.

It is a land which is an “administrative division” directly overseen by the federal government.  It is self-governing with locally elected governors and territorial legislatures.

The citizens of the U.S. Virgin Islands are U.S. citizens with local voting rights (they may not vote in a Presidential election), pay U.S. taxes, and have an elected member of the House of Representatives (who may vote in committees but not on the floor).

Traveling to a U.S. Territory

For Americans entering the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is just the same as traveling from one state to another.  Therefore, a passport is not required to enter the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This is also true for felons who travel from the U.S. mainland directly to any U.S. territory.  However, it is recommended that felons obtain and carry a passport with them for identification, especially in the event that they have to stop over in another country while on the trip.

All they must carry with them is a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.  There is also no visa required as is the case when visiting some foreign countries.

Since the U.S. Virgin Islands are not connected to the U.S. mainland, there are a couple of transportation options.

One is flying on an airline from the U.S.  As long as the flight is a direct one from a U.S. city, no passport is necessary.

This is also true for the return flight as long as it does not touch down in another country either as a connection city or due to an emergency.

When landing at a foreign airport, a passport will often be asked for.  So it is important for felons to carry a valid passport.

The other route to the U.S. Virgin Islands is by ship.  Approximately one million people travel on a cruise each year.  Felons are able to go on a cruise.

As long as it is a closed loop cruise, there is technically no passport required.  A closed loop cruise is one which starts from and ends up in the same U.S. port city.

Many cruises will actually stop at ports in different countries.

At most such stops, officials will ask to see a passport for all passengers, even those who do not get off the ship there.  So having a passport is still wise.

Not to have one could result in being detained in that country, which could pose a major problem for felons.  They might not be able to complete the cruise and be held in that country.

Why the U.S. Virgin Islands?

The U.S. Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea just 50 miles east of Puerto Rico.  They were purchased by the U.S. from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million to prevent Germany from using these islands as a military base during World War I.

They were named the Virgin Islands of the United States, and their inhabitants became U.S. citizens in 1927.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a popular tourist destination for a number of reasons.

Being in the Caribbean, the temperatures are warm year round. The beaches are beautiful white sand.  There are many water-related activities, such as fishing, snorkeling, surfing, and boating.

Located on the island of St. John, half of the island makes up the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park.

As a U.S. territory, the currency is American and English is mostly spoken throughout the area.

Encouraging a Felon to Travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands

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

Once the decision has been made to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, 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 an American 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 the U.S. Virgin Islands 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 how a felon can travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands?  Have you or someone you know traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands with a felony?  What was that like and were they successful?   Please tell us in the comments below.

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