On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Ruth & I had our last plane ride before the travel door shut completely and we were restricted to our home. The Southwest flight to St. Louis filled completely except for 2 seats. The middle seat between Ruth & me was still unoccupied, and we were about to congratulate each other when 2 women rushed onto the plane and took the last 2 seats. Ruth struck up a conversation with her seat mate almost immediately and complimented her hair. She was Black and her do had been woven with much effort into neat rows. The flight attendant came by to take drink orders, and Ruth had an extra drink coupon. She offered it to the woman, who accepted it. “Why are you going to St. Louis?” Ruth asked, and the woman quite candidly said she had just gotten out of prison and was on her way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. She and her friend in the other middle seat were celebrating her release. I gave her some ideas about things to do in New Orleans while wondering why she was in prison and if that experience made travel more difficult. We never found out why she did time, but my curiosity caused me to do some research.I learned that flying somewhere after just getting out of prison is not a problem for most countries. Most of them don’t restrict entry unless the man or woman lies to the person who might be admitting them. Having been in prison is usually not an issue.
The woman seated next to Ruth was just flying to Louisiana via Missouri, so her recent prison time was clearly not an impediment. She was really looking forward to partying in The Big Easy. If a person in her situation is attempting to visit a foreign country, however, information about their immigration policy should be available on a website. Lying is the surest way to get rejected. To enter North America from, say, Brazil, the amount and type of criminal behavior resulting in prison and the length of time since one’s last conviction and imprisonment differs from country to country, which may be factors in entry or refusal. To come into the Unites States from, say, Egypt, might be a problem even if a criminal conviction occurred many years ago. A recent imprisonment can cause entry restriction in some destinations, so being honest is essential to avoid permanent refusal to enter. Those on probation or parole must be aware of and follow court rules religiously.
The USA is usually very strict when it comes to entry from another country for persons with any kind of criminal record. Those who served time for crimes involving immorality may find themselves permanently ineligible for entry, and those with a felony conviction are in an even worse situation. Entry or no entry may depend on an interpretation of the laws violated by the person who has the potential to admit him or her into the country. Even Canada’s policy regarding those with a criminal record is strict. Even minor convictions might make one’s entry impossible without evidence of rehabilitation being submitted.
Bottom line. If you want to travel, stay out of trouble.