Getting a passport is a fundamental aspect of international travel. However, individuals with criminal convictions, specifically felonies, may have difficulty obtaining a passport. In this article, we’ll explore the nuances of passport eligibility for felons, including what constitutes a felony, the laws surrounding passport issuance, and the options available to those denied a passport.
Understanding the Passport Application Process
Before we dive into whether a person with a felony conviction can obtain a passport, it is essential to understand the passport application process. To apply for a passport, an individual must fill out a passport application form, provide documentation to prove their identity and citizenship, and pay the necessary fees. The US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is responsible for issuing US passports and determining eligibility.
Eligibility Criteria for Passport Application
To apply for a passport, an individual must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen or non-citizen national
- Have a valid government-issued photo ID
- Provide proof of citizenship or nationality
- Submit a completed passport application form
- Pay the necessary fees
Felony Convictions and Passport Eligibility
A felony conviction on your record does not automatically disqualify you from obtaining a passport. However, the severity of the offense, how recent it was, and whether the applicant is currently serving a sentence can affect passport eligibility.
Suppose an individual has a felony conviction but has completed their sentence, including probation and parole, and paid any fines or restitution. In that case, they are generally eligible to apply for a passport. However, if the person is serving a sentence, they cannot apply for a passport until release.
Passport Eligibility for Felons
The United States government has laws in place that restrict passport issuance to individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes. Under 22 USC § 2714, the government can refuse to give someone a passport if they’ve been charged with a serious crime or are serving a sentence.
People who’ve finished their sentence and aren’t on probation or parole may still get a passport. The Secretary of State will consider the severity of the crime, time since conviction, and behavior since release when considering a pardon. These factors may determine whether or not a pardon is granted.
Factors that Can Affect Passport Eligibility for Felons
While having a felony conviction does not necessarily disqualify an individual from obtaining a passport, certain factors can affect eligibility. Here are some examples:
If an individual has an outstanding warrant, whether related to their felony conviction or not, they will not be able to obtain a passport until the warrant is resolved.
Unpaid Child Support
Individuals who owe $2,500 or more in child support payments cannot receive a passport.
Unpaid Federal Loans
Individuals who owe the federal government money for a student loan or another debt may have their passport application denied or revoked.
Obtaining a Passport with a Felony Conviction
If an individual has a felony conviction but has completed their sentence and met all the other eligibility criteria, they can apply for a passport. The application process is the same for everyone, and no special forms or procedures exist for individuals with felony convictions.
Applying for a Passport with a Felony Conviction
When completing the passport application, individuals with felony convictions must answer the questions truthfully, including any questions about previous convictions. It is important to note that providing false information on a passport application is a federal offense that can result in fines, imprisonment, or both.
The US Department of State will review the application and determine whether to issue the passport. While having a felony conviction may raise concerns about international travel, the decision to issue a passport is based on the individual’s current circumstances, including whether they threaten national security.
Special Conditions for Parolees
Individuals on parole may face additional requirements when applying for a passport. They may need permission from their parole officer or the court before traveling internationally. Before making any travel plans, it is essential to check with the relevant authorities.
Options for Those Denied a Passport
If an individual is denied a passport due to their criminal record, they may still have options. One such option is to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. This certificate is issued by a court and serves as evidence that the individual has been rehabilitated since their conviction. While a Certificate of Rehabilitation does not guarantee passport issuance, it may strengthen an individual’s case for obtaining one.
Another option for those denied a passport is to apply for a Pardon. A Pardon is a form of executive clemency that forgives the individual’s conviction and restores their civil rights. If granted a Pardon, an individual may be eligible for a passport.
A felony conviction on your record does not automatically disqualify you from obtaining a passport. However, several factors can affect your eligibility, including the severity of the offense, whether you are currently serving a sentence, outstanding warrants, unpaid child support, and unpaid federal loans.
If you have completed your sentence, including probation and parole, and met all the other eligibility criteria, you can apply for a passport like anyone else. It is crucial to answer all the questions truthfully and to check with the relevant authorities if you are on parole or have outstanding warrants.
In conclusion, individuals with felony convictions may face challenges when obtaining a passport. While passport issuance laws are strict, options are available to those denied a passport. Applying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation or a Pardon may increase the chances of obtaining a passport. Talking to a skilled lawyer for any legal issue is important to find the right solution.
Can a Person with a Felony Get a Passport?
Yes, an individual with a felony conviction can obtain a passport if they have completed their sentence and are not on probation or parole.
What is a Certificate of Rehabilitation?
A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a paper from the court that proves the person’s changed after their conviction.
Can a Pardon help me obtain a passport?
If granted a Pardon, an individual may be eligible for a passport.
Can an individual with a misdemeanor conviction obtain a passport?
Yes, individuals with misdemeanor convictions are generally eligible for passports.
Can an individual with an outstanding warrant obtain a passport?
No, individuals with outstanding warrants are not eligible for passports.