Having a passport is a privilege, not a right. Since a passport is required to travel internationally, a denied application can prohibit you from traveling out of the country. An application may be denied by the federal government for several reasons, including having a past criminal history.

Before planning an international vacation or work trip, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with the laws surrounding international travel and how they apply to your situation. Find out if your ability to travel the world may be impacted by criminal charges or convictions by talking to an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney at Belén Law Firm today.

Can You Get a Passport if You Have a Felony?

Getting a passport is not a problem for most people with a felony conviction in Arizona. However, this is only if the individual is not currently awaiting trial, on probation or parole, has an arrest warrant, or is otherwise legally prohibited from leaving the country.

That is not to say that everyone with a prior felony conviction can obtain a passport. There are certain convictions that may revoke your right to travel outside of the country. For example, a passport application may be rejected if a person is convicted of treason or narcotics trafficking over international borders. Getting a passport is also a no-go for anyone who owes more than $2,500 in outstanding child support or who owes certain government debts.

A convicted felon’s passport application can also be denied if they’re currently the subject of a felony subpoena, incarcerated by the federal government, barred from leaving the U.S. due to probation, parole, or court order, or on probation for felony narcotics charges.

How to Get a Passport with Back Child Support Owed?

As we mentioned before, those who owe more than $2,500 in child support may not obtain a passport. If you owe back child support, your arrears must be paid before you can obtain a U.S. passport. You can make arrangements to pay your back child support by contacting your state’s child support enforcement agency. Once paid, the child support agency will report your payment to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). After the Department of State has been notified that HHS has removed your name from its list, your application will be processed.

Can You Get a Passport on Parole?

A felon cannot get a passport while they are on parole. You may only apply for a passport after having served your term in jail, prison, a halfway house, or a probation or parole program. Even if you meet all other conditions, however, a court order barring you from leaving the U.S. must be lifted before you can get a passport.

Can Felons Leave the Country?

If a felon is legally able to obtain a passport, then yes, they are also legally allowed to leave the country. By successfully completing their prison sentence, probation, or parole, a convicted felon should be able to get a passport and subsequently travel outside of the United States without much trouble.

How Does a Felony Charge Affect Obtaining a Passport?

Remember, having a felony charge does not affect obtaining a passport as long as the applicant isn’t currently barred from leaving the country, is not on probation or parole, and is not awaiting trial.

If a passport was granted before a criminal offense was committed, it can be taken away or canceled by the Secretary of State if that person is facing a criminal charge. If this occurs, you will not be allowed to apply for a new passport until the criminal case has been resolved. This is to keep a felon impending trial from fleeing to a nation with which the U.S. has no extradition treaty.

What Should Someone Charged with a Felony Expect When Traveling Abroad?

A passport merely serves as a form of international identification and does not inquire about a person’s criminal history. Note, however, that a passport does not immediately allow you access to enter a foreign country. What it does do is identify a person’s country of origin when traveling abroad and allow them re-entry into the United States.

For short visits, most countries will accept your passport. If a person intends to stay for an extended amount of time or visit specific countries, a visa is required. A visa is a document in a person’s passport that allows them official permission to travel to another nation. The process for obtaining a visa varies depending on the nation, but a criminal background check must be completed. In these cases, having a felony record may prevent you from going to certain countries.

Countries Felons Can Visit

Traveling outside of the United States can be a thrilling journey. Unfortunately, having a passport doesn’t mean you can go wherever you want. People with criminal records face different restrictions in different countries. Some countries refuse entry to anyone who has been convicted of a crime. A misdemeanor such as a DUI in Arizona, for example, can be enough to keep you from visiting Canada. You are required to prove you have enough money for the trip as well as obtain a return ticket when you take a trip to Belgium with a prior criminal record.

In some countries, anyone with a valid U.S. passport, convicted felons included, may enter. On the other hand, there are many countries that restrict entry to anyone who has been convicted of a crime. As a result, a criminal conviction may result in visa denial depending on the nation issuing the visa.

In summary, even if you have no trouble getting a U.S. passport, that doesn’t mean the country you want to visit will always welcome you. Before you book a flight, do your research. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, double-check with the U.S. State Department to determine if the country you wish to visit will grant you entry.

How To Get a Passport As a Convicted Felon

To get a passport, a convicted felon must follow the same procedures as any other U.S. citizen. The only difference is you must prove that you are no longer on probation or parole, so be sure to gather your formal court documents. Having this documentation readily available makes it easier for you if you are asked to provide it.

For More Information, Contact a Felon Defense Attorney at the Belen Law Firm

Many parts of your life, including your dreams to travel or work overseas, can be disrupted by having a felony on your criminal record. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Phoenix and you seek legal assistance from a knowledgeable Arizona criminal defense lawyer, reach out to the Belén Law Firm today. You can give us a call directly at 602-715-0908 or fill out our online intake form to schedule your free legal consultation.