Monday, September 17, 2012

Will a felony stop you from moving abroad?

Angkor Wat, Cambodia's top tourist attraction
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Photo Wikimedia Commons
I've previously posted about a gentleman who wanted to move to South America, but had a felony on his record. In subsequent correspondence with him about his attempts, I've found that some countries are quite happy to let you in if the criminal offense is not threatening to them. I've also blogged about the Chilean loophole, whereby a felony will bar you from getting getting residency in Chile, but not if you apply for residency while already inside of the country (because it goes through a different government organization that doesn't do a criminal background check).

In response to these posts, I'm getting more and more inquiries (usually from Americans) both in email and on this blog about how to move to another country if you have a criminal record. I would dearly love to get more feedback from other readers about this issue.

I've heard (but have not yet verified) that some nations, such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Venezuela and some African countries, don't ask about your criminal background, but I have only found anecdotal support for this. It's far easier to find information about what a county does do than what they don't do.

If you have a criminal record and are reading this, want to move abroad for a "fresh start" and don't have high-demand skills consider getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. For example, Cambodia still has a demand for TEFL instructors and nothing I've read about getting work permits or business visas mentions anything about having to provide criminal records. For example, for a temporary work permit in Cambodia:
  • 3 sets of Application Form as issued by the Ministry of Interior.
  • Attached with passports or any equivalent documents with proper visa.
  • 3 Photographs (4x6), taken in the front without hat and glasses.
  • Certificate of Health from a physician of the immigrant country, and written work contract.
  • Insurance policy issued by employer or any insurance companies.
  • Fees for temporary work permit.
(The permanent work permit paperwork is similar, but you also need a Cambodian bank statement).

I'll try to dig up more information about this topic as many people want a fresh start.

Be aware that just about every country has laws allowing them to deport foreigners who are "undesirable" or a "threat". If something like this works for you, never admit your criminal record. All you need is for one person to find out and say the wrong thing to the wrong person.