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Q: Can a felon receive a passport? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Can a felon receive a passport?
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: julieg-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 10 Jul 2003 05:51 PDT
Expires: 09 Aug 2003 05:51 PDT
Question ID: 227365
Can a person that was in prison for 19 years and released on parole
receive a passport to travel to other countries?
Subject: Re: Can a felon receive a passport?
Answered By: mvguy-ga on 10 Jul 2003 07:00 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
The quick answer is yes, at least in the United States. There is
nothing in U.S. law that prevents most felons from receiving a
passport -- unless the terms of parole, probation or sentencing deny
the person a right to a passport or international travel.

In the specific case you're asking about, then, you would need to find
out whether the terms of parole allow international travel. That
information would have to be obtained from the person's parole officer
or the court that has jurisdiction. The issue is a matter of the
parole conditions, not of the law regarding passports.

A passport is a document that certifies a person's citizenship.  It is
not a guarantee of character or anything else; it is basically an
identity document.  In fact, the passport form doesn't even ask the
applicant about criminal history.

Traditionally, there is just one type of felony that would prevent the
person from getting a passport. A person is ineligible if he or she
has "been convicted by a court or court martial of competent
jurisdiction of committing any act of treason against, or attempting
by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, or
conspiring to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force, the
Government of the United States."

That information is included on the passport information form,
available here:

Application for U.S Passport

A more recent U.S. law prohibits the issuing of a passport if a person
crossed an international border to commit a felonious drug offense. 
(In some cases, a passport can be denied even if the offense was a
misdemeanor, provided the person crossed an international border to
commit the crime.)  That law can be found here:

Section 2714. Denial of passports to certain convicted drug

Other than those exceptions, there is no provision in federal law for
denying a passport for the mere act of having a felony record. It can
be denied only if the person is subject to arrest or if the person is
prohibited by terms of parole or probation from having a passport.

Here is a summary of the U.S. law:

  Mandatory Denial.  Passports are issued to 
  applicants as a matter of course in all but a few 
  rare situations.  Except for direct return to the 
  U.S., the law provides that a passport shall not be 
  issued to an applicant subject to a federal arrest 
  warrant or subpoena for any matter involving a 
  felony.  Furthermore, a passport shall not be issued 
  where the applicant is subject to a court order or 
  condition of parole or probation which forbids 
  departure from the U.S.  Passports will also be 
  refused if the applicant has not repaid loans 
  received from the United States for certain expenses 
  incurred while the applicant was a prisoner abroad.  
  Nor will a passport be issued if the applicant is 
  under imprisonment or supervised release for any 
  conviction, at either the state or federal level, 
  for a felony involving a controlled substance.
  Discretionary Denial.  In any case, including for 
  direct return to the United States, a passport may 
  be refused where the applicant has not repaid a loan 
  received from the United States to effectuate his 
  return from a foreign country, where the applicant 
  has been declared incompetent, or where a minor 
  applicant does not have the necessary consent of 
  legal guardians.  Moreover, a passport may be 
  refused if the Secretary of State determines that 
  the applicant's activities abroad are causing or are 
  likely to cause serious damage to the national 
  security or foreign policy of the United States.  
  Finally, a passport may be refused when the 
  applicant is subject to imprisonment or supervised 
  release for a misdemeanor drug conviction, other 
  than a first offense for possession, if the 
  individual used a U.S. passport or otherwise crossed 
  an international border in committing the offense.
  Revocation.  A passport may be revoked, restricted, 
  or limited where the national would not be entitled 
  to a passport as described above, or where the 
  passport was obtained by fraud, or fraudulently 
  altered or misused.  Unless specifically validated 
  therefore, a U.S. passport shall cease to be valid 
  for travel into or through any country or area at 
  war with the United States.  U.S. passports may also 
  be invalidated for travel through areas in which 
  armed hostilities are in progress, or where there is 
  imminent danger to the public health or physical 
  safety of U.S. travelers.  Such determinations are 
  made by the Secretary of State and are published in 
  the Federal Register.
Source: U.S. Report under the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights

A passport can also be denied if the individual has outstanding
child-support payments of more than $5,000:

Other reasons for passport application denial

Note also that many countries will not issue visas or allow entry to
persons with a felony record (or even drunken driving convictions in
the case of Canada).  A list of countries' basic visa requirements can
be found here:

Foreign Entry Requirements

I hope this fully answers your question.



Search strategy:

I followed menus and used search boxes with the term "passport"at  the
U.S. State Department and FindLaw sites:
julieg-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $15.00
Thank you! And thank you for the speedy answer!

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