Everyone knows that having a criminal record can have serious implications later on. A criminal record can prevent someone from getting a passport. A felony will have even bigger impact of the ability to acquire a passport even if you have lived an exemplary life since serving your sentence.
What Can Prevent You From Getting a Passport
There are a number of misdemeanors and felonies that can prevent you from getting a passport to travel outside the USA. The main charge that can have this effect is a drug offense. This is especially true if you use a passport to travel outside the country to procure the drugs. In some cases, even if you had a passport before you were convicted, this can be taken away from you as stated on the Cornell law website (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/2714). Full details on how drug charges can affect your chances of getting a passport are in the US Code 2714 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title22/pdf/USCODE-2011-title22-chap38-sec2714.pdf).
If you have a pending arrest record, you will not be given a passport. Likewise, anyone on parole or probation will not get a passport. You may also have an order forbidding you from leaving the country, and as such will not qualify for a passport. It is a no-brainer that minors cannot get a passport unless they have parental permission.
If you are interested in getting a passport, you should know that there are other factors that can get your application denied. Some people have been forbidden to have a passport for various reasons such as being on probation due to a court order. If you are deemed to be a threat to national security by the State Department, you will not be given a passport. You may also be surprised to know that if you have unpaid child support you could be prevented from getting one. The delinquency amount varies depending on the state but it is usually between $2,000 and $5,000.
Sometimes, the US government will give assistance in the form of a federal loan to US citizens to get back home if they are in a foreign country. These loans are normally issued to American citizens who have been imprisoned overseas and need help to get back to the USA or Americans who want to return to the USA but are financially unable to do so. These loans have to be repaid before a passport can be issued. Don’t think you can get around this without paying back the loan. If you owe taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) your application for a passport can be denied.
How to Get a Passport With a Felony
In some cases, you may still be able to obtain a passport to travel outside the country even if you have a felony. One of the easiest ways is if you had your record expunged. However, some felonies cannot be expunged, and some felonies are such that you will not get a passport unless you receive a presidential pardon.
How to Try and get a Passport After A denial
Apart from getting your record expunged, you have a few options to try if your passport application was turned down. You cannot technically appeal, but you can try again. In some cases you may get a written response outlining why your application was denied. This notice will also provide information on how to get a review of your application. If it was due to an improperly completed form or missing information, you should reapply. Make sure to get help to complete the form correctly. It is in your best interest to complete the application correctly the first time since you need to pay an application fee.
Under some circumstances, the Secretary of State may give permission for you to obtain a passport. This is most likely under humanitarian grounds or in the case of an emergency. You should be aware also that even if you are able to get a passport, some countries will not let you in based of your criminal history.
To minimize the risk of a denial, you should also ensure that you get all the required documentation to aid in the processing of your passport application. These documents include form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport, proof of your citizenship such as a certified copy of your birth certificate, a previous passport, or a naturalization certificate and a state-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license. For more information on how to apply for a passport visit the USAToday website (http://traveltips.usatoday.com/obtain-passport-convicted-felons-62693.html).
Finally, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you have a criminal record and need to apply for a passport. They can give you information on whether or not you need to ask for your records to be expunged or sealed. If you are an ex-felon legal guidance is even more important to help you navigate the passport application process.