Travel Considerations for Those Facing Criminal Charges

When advising clients of potential consequences, criminal defense attorneys and DUI lawyers can sometimes forget the impact that a DUI (Driving Under the Influence, sometimes call OWI, or DWI) or felony conviction can have on international travel. This can dramatically impact someone who travels frequently for work or pleasure. A felony conviction or DUI conviction can significantly impact a person's ability to travel internationally. The extent of the impact varies depending on the destination country, the nature of the conviction, and other factors. Below are some of the ways these convictions may affect international travel:

Visa and Entry Requirements

  • Visa Applications: Many countries require travelers to apply for a visa before entering. During the visa application process, applicants may be asked to disclose any criminal convictions. A felony or DUI conviction can lead to the denial of a visa application, as countries may deem individuals with such convictions as inadmissible.
  • Entry Denial: Even if a visa is not required for entry, countries have the right to deny entry to anyone with a criminal record at the point of entry, based on their laws and policies regarding travelers with criminal histories. For instance, Canada is known for its strict entry requirements concerning DUI convictions.

Specific Country Policies

  • Canada: Canada considers DUIs and other criminal offenses as grounds for inadmissibility. Travelers with a DUI conviction may need to undergo a rehabilitation process or obtain a temporary resident permit to enter Canada.
  • United States: The U.S. may deny entry to non-citizens with certain criminal convictions, including felonies and serious misdemeanors. The specifics depend on the nature of the crime and whether it falls under the U.S.'s definition of moral turpitude or involves controlled substances.
  • Australia and New Zealand: Both countries ask visitors to declare any criminal convictions and may refuse entry or a visa to individuals with certain types of convictions, including felonies and, in some cases, DUIs.
  • United Kingdom: The UK may refuse entry or a visa to individuals with criminal convictions, particularly if the sentence was for a period of four years or more. However, each case is usually assessed on its merits.

Impact on Travel

  • Restrictions on Movement: Even if entry is permitted, individuals with criminal convictions may face restrictions on their movements within a country or on the duration of their stay.
  • Reputation and Background Checks: Some countries conduct extensive background checks that go beyond criminal convictions, potentially affecting those with a history of legal issues.
  • Travel Insurance: Obtaining travel insurance may be more challenging for individuals with felony or DUI convictions, as insurers may consider them higher risk.

Tips for Traveling with a Conviction

  • Research Destination Laws: Before planning travel, individuals with convictions should research the entry requirements and laws of the destination country.
  • Consult an Attorney: An attorney familiar with international travel laws can provide advice on steps to take to potentially mitigate the impact of a conviction on travel plans.
  • Apply for Rehabilitation or a Waiver: In some cases, individuals may be able to apply for rehabilitation (as in Canada) or a waiver that allows them to enter a country despite a conviction.
  • Be Honest in Applications: When applying for visas or answering entry questions, honesty about one's criminal history is crucial. Providing false information can result in being barred from entry.

A felony or DUI conviction doesn't necessarily mean international travel is impossible, but it does require additional planning and awareness of potential obstacles. Each country's policies differ, and the specifics of the conviction can influence the outcome, making individual research and legal advice essential components of travel planning for those affected. If you travel frequently or plan to, make sure to let your criminal lawyer or DUI attorney know. It may impact how they handle or resolve your case.

More to Read: