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Pending Arrest Warrants and Passport Renewal

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traveling to united states

The forthcoming article is designed to provide general guidance to those who find themselves outside of the United States of America with a pending warrant in the United States.

Those in the United States who find themselves the subject of a validly issued arrest warrant, bench warrant, or fugitive warrant are well advised not to flee the jurisdiction. Instead, individuals in this position should retain a competent attorney and deal with the matter pursuant to the rule of law. That being said, in certain instances, an individual will find themselves outside of the US when a warrant is issued for their arrest in an American jurisdiction. In this position, the warrant can act as something of a barrier impeding further travel. For instance, if a US warrant is issued, then the subject of the warrant will find it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a new US passport overseas. American Consular Officers at American Citizen Services Sections of US Consulates and Embassies abroad are required to confiscate an individual’s US passport if the Officer discovers a pending US warrant on the subject’s record.

In some cases, a Consulate may be willing to issue a travel document for the purpose of allowing the subject to return to the United States, but a passport for international travel is unlikely to be issued under these circumstances. In some cases, an American warrant is promulgated unbeknownst to the US Citizen subject because that individual is outside of the jurisdiction at the time of issuance. This commonly occurs where child support is concerned as an individual may fall behind on their child support payments and become subject to an arrest warrant for non-payment. Up until the time that the matter is resolved, the warrant will remain.

The issue of American warrants in the context of American passports has become rather disconcerting to those living and working outside of the United States, particularly as international law enforcement officials began sharing more data with American governmental agencies. Furthermore, some nations have begun tying their Immigration information systems into the criminal and terrorist databases of the USA in an effort to better understand an individual’s legal and/or travel history. For example, authorities in Thailand recently announced their intention to integrate their Immigration databases with those of the USA. Regardless of whether or not the two governments will pool information regarding outstanding warrants remains to be seen. However, many speculate of such a possibility citing the fact that Thailand has an Extradition Treaty with the United States. It is possible that this scenario may play out on an international level as more nations are taking an increasingly tough stance against foreign fugitives.

Coping with an American Criminal matter can be daunting, but for those willing to deal with their legal problems a competent American attorney can provide advice and counsel regarding one’s options and rights.


traveling to united states

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