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Can Felons Leave the Country?

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Being incarcerated has a huge impact on felons.  They are locked up in a crowded facility where their movement is severely restricted.

They must spend the majority of their time in a small unit, filled with their fellow felons.  There are tight quarters, living in a small four to ten man cell, sharing limited space.

Opportunities to walk or exercise are allowed only at certain times on particular days.  Felons long for the unrestricted movement they were accustomed to when they were free.

Having committed a crime serious enough to earn an often lengthy prison sentence, the vast amount of time in those circumstances only increases the desire for release to go home to families and friends, to be able to come and go freely again.

This blog post will cover whether felons can leave the country.

  • Travel Restrictions on Probation
  • Travel Restrictions after Probation
  • Keeping the Goal of Travel outside the U.S.
  • Encouraging Felons to Visit Other Countries


Travel Restrictions on Probation

Of course, upon release, felons must complete the terms of their sentence, which typically involves being on probation, reporting to their probation officer in person or checking in online monthly.

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

Depending on felons’ circumstances, including the length of their criminal history, seriousness of their offense, and other factors, being granted permission to travel outside their district can be difficult to achieve.

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, the travel possibility increases.

After this lengthy time of restrictions, many felons long to travel.  Moving about in the U.S. is not difficult.  But what about the case of being able to journey to another country?  Can felons leave the country?

Travel Restrictions after Probation

The answer to this question is yes with certain restrictions.  There’s that word again, restrictions, that follows felons closely for the remainder of their lives unless they have their record expunged.

Travel beyond the U.S. border can be accomplished.  There is the question of a passport, which is a form of identification from the federal government allowing international travel.

As a previous blog post detailed, entering Canada, which does not require a passport, is easy for those without a criminal history.  The difference is for felons, or anyone with any type of criminal conviction.

Once convicted, felons must go through an involved application process to cross the Canadian border.

Another post discussed obtaining a passport as a felon.

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 itself a federal crime.

Traveling to another country with a passport is very possible, depending on the country to which they want to travel.

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

Just as with Canada, there are several other countries, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand that severely restrict felons from traveling there.

On the other end of the travel spectrum, some countries, such as Jamaica, have basic restrictions on anyone entering their country whether they are felons or not.

Typically, all travelers there are required to have at least six months remaining on their passport and being able to prove they have enough funds for a return trip home.

Basic advice for felons desiring to travel abroad is to first ensure they can successfully apply for a passport.

Second is to decide where they want to go.  Then they should check on the requirements for obtaining a visa to that country, which is legal permission to enter a particular country.

Many countries place restrictions on felons convicted of a violent crime from entering. This information can be obtained from the embassy or consulate office of the nation they wish to visit.

If those restrictions are severe, it may be necessary to change their destination to a nation where there are less severe restrictions.

Keeping the Goal of Travel outside the U.S.

It is important for felons to not give up on traveling abroad 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 Felons to Visit Other Countries

For families of felons who wish to travel, 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.

Help them discover where they want to visit, assist them in the process, and encourage them to obey the laws of a country when they are there.  In case of legal difficulties, they can find a lawyer.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether felons can leave the country?  Have you or someone you know traveled outside the U.S. after a felony conviction?  What was that experience like?   Please tell us in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Can Felons Leave the Country?”

  1. There is a glaring absence as far as I can tell in this entire site regarding additional restrictions that are placed up on convicted sex offenders. Customarily they are stereotyped and treated as lepers were in biblical times.

    • We don’t make specific content for any type of felony. We have general information and don’t focus on sex offenders, drug offenders, violent offenders, or otherwise.

  2. Whoever made this site is great… thank you. it really takes people like you guys in the world to give people with unfortunate past great help thank you again


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