How can a felon apply for a passport?

Can You Get a Passport if You Have a Warrant?

The U.S passport application process can be a bit tricky. It requires a great deal of diligence and a stroke of patience.

Obtaining a photo that meets ‘standard’ is a huge challenge in itself. Besides, be ready to spend some bucks. It’s honestly not worth going through if a denial is most likely.

The big question, then, is – Would it be wise for persons with outstanding warrants to go through all these hurdles? Do they stand a chance of getting a passport? Would a warrant automatically disqualify one from getting a passport?

Answer – It depends.

Whether or not your passport application would be denied is solely dependent on the type of warrant issued.

Related: Can a Felon get A Passport?

Applying for a United States’ Passport

Can You Get a Passport if You Have a Warrant?

Besides the passport fees, United States’ passport applicants are required to tender a photo, a written application, and relevant documents (original copies) to confirm your U.S citizenship.

While this sounds like a cakewalk in texts, it can be extremely complex and hellish – In actual practice.

Perhaps, the photo rules alone should give you a hint: According to the State Department, photos with regular glasses, sunglasses, earphones, headphones, head coverings, and hats are forbidden.

That’s not all: you must appear in the photo with a “neutral” facial expression, head straight and facing forward, and with moderate dressing.

Besides, the State Department can be critical in determining your citizenship and identity.

Fact is, meeting up with correct documentation alone can be pretty discouraging.

Now, if these seemingly ‘trivial things’ could ruin your passport approval, what about an outstanding warrant?

What is a Warrant?

A warrant is a legal document issued by a magistrate or judge, prompting the law enforcement to take a particular action.

Warrants can be in different forms.

A bench warrant, for instance, may be issued, if one fails to show up in court for jury duty. In the case of murder, an arrest warrant may be issued.

Whether or not a warrant will affect your passport application depends on the warrant issued.

While some warrants will automatically mess up your chances of obtaining a passport approval, others don’t count as much.

Warrants that Ruins Your Passport Application

Thankfully, the federal legislation spells out specific warrants that can hinder you from getting a passport.

According to Title 22, the State Department can deny any citizen the right to a passport for either of the following reasons:

  • Where there is a pending criminal court order that denies your exit from the United States’ borders.
  • When a passport applicant has an outstanding arrest warrant issued by a federal court for a case of felony.
  • When a passport applicant has an outstanding arrest warrant issued by a local or state court for a case of felony.

Hence, there might be no use applying for a passport if either of these stipulations applies to you.

Noteworthily, however, the law does not capture a warrant issued by a court in a foreign country.

Felony Arrest Warrants

If arrested by the police for a criminal act, the law enforcement will require permission from the court to detain you. The judge grants this permission with a felony warrant.

However, a felony warrant is usually issued after the police have proven – beyond reasonable doubt – that the offense was committed; and committed by you.

That said, the arrest warrant remains valid until the law enforcement makes arrest or the judge revokes the warrant.

The warrant can be issued in any jurisdiction or state and subjects can be arrested in any jurisdiction or state.

However, felony and misdemeanors vary across states. That is, what is considered felony in a state, may pass for a misdemeanor in another.

So, if you are subject to an outstanding warrant for an offense less than a felony, you may proceed with your passport application.

How to Check Your U.S Passport Status

Have you satisfied all the visa application requirements and walked through all the processes? Still haven’t found the little blue book in your mail? Did you know you could confirm your passport approval status right from your phone?

Checking my Passport Status

If you have your application already with the Bureau of Consular Affairs, there are two ways to keep an eye on it.


  • Your last name. With suffixes (James Jr, Robert III, etc.) and hyphens (James-John) as appropriate.
  • Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYY)
  • The last four digits of your SSN (Social Security Number)

To check online

  • Visit the passport status system online to confirm your application status
  • Remember, it takes up to 10 working days before your application status to reflect online.
  • You may also get email updates regarding your status by filling your email address on the passport applicant status page

By Phone

Contact the National Passport Information Center: reach them via 1-888-874-7793 or 877-487-2778.

That said, note that these methods are not applicable if your application is reviewed by the Special Issuance Agency. Special Issuance passports are those issued strictly to employees – and their dependants – going on foreign U.S-government-sponsored business trips, those exempted from passport fees and persons on a trip to honor a fallen military personnel.

Still, haven’t received your passport?

If your online and telephone checks say your passport has been approved and mailed to you, and still haven’t received it after 10 working days, visit the National Passport Information Center. They will offer you assistance to fill out the DS-86 form.

Denied Application

Passport denial can be a result of several factors – from simple to complicated. While some can be denied for the wrong documentation, others may be denied for more complicated reasons like order from foreign government to extradite the subject.

However, applicants may also be denied as a result of an outstanding judicial order, passport revocation, as well as unpaid loans to the State Department and child support.

The State Department keeps denied applications for 90 days. Do well to find out and resolve causes of the denial within this period or prepare to reapply, and of course, pay all applicable fees.

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