If you’re a U.S. citizen with a felony conviction and want to travel abroad, knowing that different countries have different rules about letting convicted felons in is essential. These rules are often based on factors such as the type of crime and how much time has passed since the conviction. Some countries that do not allow entry if you are a convicted felon include Canada, Australia, and Japan.

At Carlson, Meissner & Hayslett, we're committed to helping our clients understand these rules and navigate the criminal justice system while protecting their rights. We’re here with a comprehensive look at some countries that do not allow entry to convicted felons and the specific conditions under which these restrictions apply.

#1: Canada

Under Canadian law, individuals with felony convictions are deemed "inadmissible" and can be denied entry. This includes convictions for serious crimes such as:

  • Assault
  • Drug trafficking
  • Theft

However, there are two pathways to overcoming this inadmissibility:

  • Criminal Rehabilitation: If at least five years have passed since the completion of the sentence, an individual may apply for criminal rehabilitation. If approved, the person is deemed rehabilitated and allowed to enter Canada.
  • Temporary Resident Permit (TRP): This is a temporary solution for those not yet eligible for criminal rehabilitation. It allows entry to Canada for a specific period, provided the individual demonstrates a compelling reason for the visit.

#2: Australia

Australia's Migration Act governs denying or canceling visas because of character issues. According to Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs or their delegate can refuse a visa or take it away if a non-citizen doesn't pass the "character test."

There are several reasons why someone might fail the character test, including:

  • Having a serious criminal record, which means being sentenced to death or prison for 12 months or more, among other things
  • Being connected to people or groups involved in criminal behavior and taking part in criminal activities
  • The type of crime, how often it happened, and when it occurred, as even with shorter sentences, multiple offenses or serious crimes can lead to rejection
  • When applying for a visa, applicants must tell about any criminal history; not doing so can lead to rejection or cancellation of the visa

#3: Japan

The Japanese Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act can deny entry to individuals sentenced to imprisonment for more than one year. For example:

  • Nature of the crime: Japan scrutinizes the type and severity of the crime. Drug-related offenses and violent crimes are taken particularly seriously.
  • Disclosure: Applicants must fully disclose their criminal history. Japanese authorities conduct thorough checks, and non-disclosure can lead to permanent bans.

#4: United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a more nuanced approach to dealing with visitors with criminal records. Entry restrictions depend on several factors, including the following:

  • Individuals sentenced to imprisonment for more than four years are generally denied entry
  • Those with recent convictions (within the past 12 months) or multiple offenses may face entry restrictions
  • Under the Visa Waiver Program, visitors must disclose their criminal history, and the UK authorities will assess their admissibility on a case-by-case basis

#5: New Zealand

The country’s Immigration Act 2009 outlines the grounds for inadmissibility, which include:

  • Serious convictions: Those convicted of offenses that resulted in imprisonment for five years or more are typically denied entry.
  • Recent sentences: Individuals sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more in the past ten years are also likely to be refused entry.

Other Countries with Restrictions

Several other countries impose restrictions on the entry of individuals with felony convictions. These include:

  • China: China often denies visas to individuals with serious criminal records, especially those related to drug offenses or violent crimes.
  • India: India requires visa applicants to disclose their criminal history. Those with serious or multiple convictions may face entry refusals.
  • South Africa: South Africa’s immigration laws allow entry to be refused to individuals with serious criminal records.
  • Brazil: Brazil may deny entry to individuals with serious criminal records, particularly those involving drug trafficking or violent crimes.

Know Your International Travel Rights and Restrictions. Contact Carlson, Meissner & Hayslett.

Traveling with a felony conviction can be challenging, but knowing the specific entry rules for different countries can make planning international trips easier. Some countries have ways to get around their entry restrictions, like Canada's Criminal Rehabilitation and Temporary Resident Permits, but others have strict bans.

Getting advice from a criminal defense attorney can give personalized help and improve the chances of getting into the country you want to visit. Ultimately, being honest and getting ready thoroughly are essential for traveling internationally with a criminal record.

For personalized legal guidance on international travel with a criminal record, consult Carlson, Meissner & Hayslett. Our experienced team can help you navigate the complexities of entry restrictions and provide tailored strategies for a successful trip abroad. Contact us today to learn more!

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