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Can A Felon Get A TWIC Card?

Holding a TWIC card is an essential requirement for many well-paid jobs. Can a felon get a TWIC card? Often the answer to this question is yes, which is very good news!

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about obtaining a TWIC card with a felony on your record.

What Is A TWIC Card And Why Do You Need One?

What Is A TWIC Card And Why Do You Need One?

TWIC stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential. It’s a special biometric identity card issued by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and the card gives TWIC holders clearance to enter some safety-sensitive areas where terrorism is considered a significant risk.

The TWIC card stores your information on a microchip and by swiping the card, you’ll gain entry to protected areas.

TWIC cards were initially mandated for port workers by the Maritime Transportation Security Act in the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001.

Now, a TWIC card is required for truck drivers entering ports, oilfield workers, port workers, oil rig workers, merchant mariners, refinery and chemical plant workers, and airport staff.

To obtain a TWIC card you have to provide your fingerprints and photo, pass a “security threat assessment” background check, and pay a fee which is currently $125. Once issued, your TWIC card is valid for 5 years.

With a TWIC card you’ll be able to apply for a much wider range of jobs, and even if a job doesn’t require a TWIC, holding the card can show employers that the government doesn’t consider you a risk.

Can A Felon Get A TWIC Card in 2024?

Having a felony on your record won’t necessarily prevent you from being eligible for a TWIC card. The TWIC background check is concerned with certain serious felony offenses, some of which are permanently disqualifying, while others are only temporarily disqualifying.

Even so, waivers for most of those felony offenses can be applied for.

Let’s see what the rules say about disqualifying felony offenses for the purposes of obtaining a TWIC card.

*Note – Misdemeanors will not make you ineligible for a TWIC card.

TWIC Card – Temporarily Disqualifying Felony Offenses

You’ll be temporarily ineligible for a TWIC card if the date of your felony conviction was within 7 years of the date of your application OR if your release from prison was within 5 years of the date of your TWIC application. This applies to the following offenses:

  • All firearms offenses
  • Extorsion
  • Fraud, dishonesty, misrepresentation (excluding welfare fraud and passing bad checks)
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration offenses
  • Distribution of a controlled substance
  • Arson
  • Kidnap
  • Rape or aggravated sexual assault
  • Robbery
  • Assault with intent to kill
  • Fraudulent entry into a seaport
  • RICO violations
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Conspiring to commit any of the above crimes

TWIC Card – Permanently Disqualifying Felony Offenses

You will not be eligible for a TWIC card if you were convicted of or plead guilty to any of the following felony offenses:

  • Espionage
  • Treason
  • Sedition
  • Crimes related to a transportation security incident
  • Making false bomb threats
  • Crimes involving explosive materials or devices
  • Murder
  • Terrorism
  • Improper transportation of a hazardous material
  • RICO convictions involving the above offenses
  • Attempts to commit any of these offenses
  • Conspiracy to commit any of these offenses

TWIC Card Eligibility Under Indictment Or Warrant

If you’re under indictment for any of the offenses listed above, or if you’re the subject of an arrest warrant for any of the above offenses, you will not be eligible for a TWIC card.

How To Get A TWIC Card Waiver For Your Felony

All of the offenses listed as temporarily disqualifying are eligible for a waiver through the TSA TWIC Waiver Application Process. Some of the offenses listed as permanently disqualifying are also eligible for a waiver.

Permanently Disqualifying Offenses NOT Eligible For A Waiver

  • Espionage or conspiracy to commit espionage
  • Treason or conspiracy to commit treason
  • Sedition or conspiracy to commit sedition
  • Terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism

The TSA grants the majority of waiver applications as long as the applicant is not a security threat.

If your initial TWIC application is denied, you’ll receive a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility letter which details the reason(s) the TSA has decided that you’re not eligible to hold a TWIC card.

At this stage, you have two options.

You can appeal the decision or apply for a waiver.

In both cases is advisable to use a lawyer to make the applications for you.

An appeal is the appropriate course of action if the background information the TSA relied on to make its decision is incorrect. If your felony is not on the disqualifying list of offenses, or if it’s older than 5 or 7 years for a temporarily disqualifying offense, you may decide to appeal the decision, in which case you’ll have 60 days to lodge an appeal.

If the information about your offenses is correct, you’ll need to apply for a waiver. When you apply for a waiver, you need to show that even though you have committed a felony offense, you’re not a security threat.

When the TSA evaluates your waiver request, they’ll look at various factors before making their waiver decision. These include:

  • The nature of your felony offense
  • The age of the offense
  • Your character
  • Your record before the disqualifying offense
  • Your record and behavior since the disqualifying offense

How To Make The Felony Waiver Request

To obtain a waiver for your TWIC disqualification, you’ll need to submit a formal letter requesting the waiver to the TSA.

The letter should set out the legal basis for the request and include as much proof as you can provide which demonstrates that you do not pose a security threat to the United States.

Your letter should explain how, why, and when the felony offense took place and your personal circumstances at the time of the offense.

You should then focus on the steps you’ve taken to rehabilitate yourself and create a stable personal life with gainful employment.

Along with your letter, include as much helpful documentation as you can to support your request and show your good character. This can include:

  • Evidence that you’ve completed your sentencing requirements
  • Expungement records
  • Completion certificates for rehab programs
  • Certificates of advanced education or training
  • Character references
  • Evidence of voluntary work

Character references can include letters from employers, church elders or your pastor, your probation officer, social worker, family and friends, local officials, and community leaders.

It’s very important to prepare your waiver application carefully so that it’s as complete and as persuasive as possible. The best way to guarantee that you’ve made a comprehensive waiver application is to get help from a lawyer.

Once your waiver application has been submitted, the TSA Waiver Review board will consider your application and make their recommendation to the Director of Security Threat Evaluation. If the director decides to grant your waiver request, you’ll receive a final written decision within 60 days.

How And Where To Apply For A TWIC Card

A TWIC card application has two parts.

  • The in-person appointment is where you provide your digital fingerprints, photo, the required identity documents, and fee. Accepted forms of ID include a passport book or card, driver’s license, state ID card, military card, Native American tribal document, or birth certificate.

You don’t always need to make an appointment at a TWIC enrollment center because most locations accept walk-ins, but you could face a wait of several hours if you just turn up.

The easiest way to find your nearest TWIC enrollment location is to open up your internet browser and enter “TWIC enrollment center near me”.

The initial TWIC application process needs to be completed before you can apply for a waiver.

If your application doesn’t result in the discovery of a disqualifying felony offense, you should receive your card in roughly 7 – 10 days.

Summing Up

Having a felony on your record will not always prevent you from obtaining a TWIC card. Some felony offenses are either permanently or temporarily disqualifying, but you can apply for a waiver to remove the disqualification.

Some very serious security related felonies are disqualifying for life however, and waivers will not be issued in those cases.

If you need to apply for a waiver, it’s well worth getting a lawyer to assist with your dossier so that you have the best chance of success.

The whole TWIC application plus waiver process can take several months, so get started on your application as soon as possible.