By Maestro . . .
I’d like to share a story about traveling outside the USA with a previous S.O. felony but no longer being on the registry…
I recently traveled to Gambia (west Africa) with a stop over both ways in Istanbul, Türkiye.In order to leave the Istanbul airport to get to my hotel (12 hour layover), I had to obtain a visa, which I was able to do right at the airport. No questions asked. Cost $40 USD.
Arrived at Banjul airport in Gambia, also obtained a visa there. The only question was;
“What brings you to Gambia?”Answer: “An online friend who is going to be my tour guide” (this is true, btw. And soon she’ll also be my wife). The immigration officer then stamped my Gambian visa good for the next 5 yrs! Yes!
Arriving back in the USA….I currently live in Georgia, so of course I came back into Atlanta international airport.
Going through the customs area, the officer there simply asked:
“Where are you coming from”Me: Gambia Him: Oh, Africa, eh? Me: Yeah. It was nice. Him: Know someone there. Me: Yes. Him: Did you bring anything back such as foods or tobacco? Me: Yes, a couple of cartons of cigarettes. Him: Marlboro, I bet. Me: Good guess! How did you figure? Him: You look like a Marlboro man.
Laughter and then told “Welcome home.”
I think I’ve read stories of people even off the registry who were concerned about the felony record stopping them from traveling. In my case, I had no such issues. Maybe it’s the countries I was going to be in? I may never know for sure.Not even re-entering the USA had issues. And I was almost certain that there would be.. Maybe it’s the airports you come back into (??)
If anyone is worried about the countries that require visas, there are several that allow you to obtain a visitor visa upon arrival if you decide not to apply for it beforehand. That might be the best way to go about it. U.S. currency speaks volumes in some countries. The Gambian visa cost me $150 but at least it’s good for 5 years rather than the typical 30 days for tourists.
So, I just wanted to share my experience because, even though I have been off the registry since 2018, I was still worried about my criminal record causing issues and yet I had none.I also had gotten my first passport upon leaving prison in 2008 (2 yr sentence). This was BEFORE the “unique identifiers” on passports. In the 10 yrs I was on probation with a passport, I was never informed via mail or anything to surrender my passport for a new one with the identifier. That passport expired the same year I came off the CT registry (2018). I have since gotten a new passport and this was the first time ever leaving the country.
My question to those who got to their destination country only to be turned away at that country’s airport is this: When the U.S. airport you left from scanned your passport, shouldn’t it have notified them right then and there to save everyone the trouble of even making the trip in the first place?I have often wondered how they allow you to board the plane but the country you enter somehow knows to turn you away.