Some of the most available jobs for felons are in the transport sector. With growing consumer demands across the country, many companies require these services. They want drivers that can undertake both short and long-distance deliveries.
Many of these jobs require the drivers to be able to access a myriad of locations. Today, many secure locations call for TWIC cards. This is the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).
This card is a security measure for regulated facilities and vessels. It is issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Applicants must go through a security threat assessment. So, can a felon get a TWIC card?
When words like assessment and background check come into play, felons get nervous. This is normal as it means bringing up criminal history. When walking on the street, people know nothing of your past and treat your normally. When they, however, discover your crimes, they tend to become biased.
This negative impression can often carry on to job prospects, housing, and even pursuit of certifications. It often limits their ability to find gainful employment and take care of their family.
Trucking and delivery jobs are plentiful because the work is often tough. Long haul jobs often mean spending weeks away from home. The physical challenges are also not to be underrated.
However, these jobs can be quite lucrative and offer good job security. The demand for employees also means that employers are more relaxed about criminal history when hiring. They need someone willing to do the job and relax their requirements to attract candidates.
Since these jobs often involve working independently, even those convicted of violent crimes can often be hired.
A TWIC card can be highly beneficial. They guarantee access to places like ports where much cargo originates and goes.
Let’s delve into deeper detail on TWIC cards.
What Is A TWIC Card?
Although there is a high demand for delivery and truck drivers, employers want someone that can work fast. Anyone who has had to visit a secure facility knows that the checks are time-consuming. Especially since 9/11, there has been new legislation and rules to ensure certain installations are better protected.
Even a pizza delivery guy has to be vetted. That means someone coming in with a vehicle will suffer greater scrutiny. The TWIC card helps to cut down on the bureaucracy as the holder will already have been vetted by the TSA.
It is a federal authorization for transportation professionals that is overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard and TSA.
TWIC cardholders can spend less time being assessed during entry and exit. This means being able to perform their jobs faster as time is saved. And this, in turn, means a happier employer whose shipments are completed quickly.
So for felons working in trucking or delivery, that means accessing secure facilities, A TWIC card is vital. Employers will typically inform a driver if they need to have a TWIC card. If their business involves pick-ups and deliveries to ports, government maritime facilities, and boats, then it is required.
If applying for a truck or delivery driver position, you can always ask during the hiring process. It is a common requirement alongside a Commercial Driving License(CDL). However, unlike the CDL that employers can help you attain, a TWIC card must be applied for directly.
Start the application process as soon as possible. Normally it can take 6-8 weeks to process this application. Government agencies, however, recommend allowing for as much as 12 weeks.
For felons, more time may be required as initial applications are often rejected. That means having to go through the appeals process that can take several weeks.
Who Can Apply for A TWIC Card
Although the process for TWIC cards is notoriously lengthy, it is however straightforward. You will need this ID if you are a:
- Truck driver
- Longshore worker
- Cruise ship personnel
- Merchant mariner
- Port facility employee
- Any other employee requiring unescorted access to secure maritime facilities and vessels
Felons that hold any of the jobs above will often require a TWIC card. However, certain felony offenses can disqualify a person from applying for this ID. More on that later.
Note that even on renewal, applicants must still go through the same process afresh. Given the lengthy timelines, those that already have TWIC cards should still apply well in advance. Especially when they know they will fail the background check.
To process this card, you begin at the official TSA website and go to the TWIC webpage. Here is it indicated that a background check will be conducted. You must also be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or legal immigrant.
There must also be a purpose of applying for a TWIC card. That means you should have any of the jobs mentioned above or other reasons to frequent the location.
Click on the online application. You will be taken to other pages where you must provide certain information. This includes
- Full names
- Contact details
Once you submit your application, you will need to schedule an appointment.
Ensure you assemble all required documentation. You may require 1 or 2 forms of identification. They will verify your identity, citizenship, and/or immigration status.
Those with a passport, Free and Secure Trade(FAST) card, green card, or Global Entry card, that is sufficient. If not, you will need some form of photo ID. And either a birth certificate or certificate of naturalization.
Carry these documents when going for your appointment at the enrollment center. They will be examined for authenticity. Your fingerprints and a photo will also be taken at this time.
You will be required to pay for this application. The current fee is $125.25. You may receive a discount if you have a CDL or FAST card.
Ideally, you should not have any felony convictions. This is the best way to guarantee quick approval. If, however, you are a felon, there is still a chance of securing a TWIC card.
You will also need to indicate how you want your card delivered to you.
Note that you can also fill out the pre-enrollment application in person at an enrollment center. You may also phone in on weekdays, between the hours of 8am-10pm.
As mentioned, a felon may find themselves disqualified from accessing a TWIC card. Often, those that fail a background check will be automatically rejected. However, there is room for an appeal.
Before we get to that, let us distinguish between permanent and interim disqualifying crimes. Permanent disqualifying crimes are those a felon was convicted of or pled guilty to. They include:
- Terrorist acts
- Transportation security incidents
- Improper transportation of hazardous material
- Criminal acts associated with explosives
Interim disqualifying crimes exclude felons from accessing TWIC cards within 7 years of their convictions. Or, within 5 years of their release from prison. These crimes include:
- Drug charges
- Firearms charges
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Immigration violations
Generally, the TSA considers those with extensive foreign or domestic criminal convictions to be a threat. They also factor in security-related violations at airports, ports, onboard aircraft, and cargo concerns.
The TSA will also take into account any information sourced from Interpol or other international law enforcement. They will also conduct checks against terrorist watch lists.
Those with outstanding warrants for felonies are also disqualified. At least until the warrant is released or indictment dismissed.
For the TSA, any offense that attracts a penalty of over a year in prison is a felony.
Unless your offense is a permanently disqualifying factor, you still stand a chance at securing a TWIC card.
That means that even if you get a rejection from your initial application, you can appeal. This should be done within 60 days of receiving the notice.
How to Appeal
When an applicant is rejected, the TSA issues a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility. This document will indicate the right to appeal. To qualify for a waiver of certain disqualifications, you must meet certain conditions.
These can include:
- Having been charged but not convicted of the crime
- The crimes having been misdemeanors and not felonies
- Having been convicted of simple drug possession
- No outstanding warrants or indictments
- Were convicted of interim disqualifying offenses, at lead 7 years prior, or been released over 5 years’ prior
You will need to assemble documentation concerning your conviction. If not convicted, you will still need a confirmation from the court, DA, or police. If convicted, get documentation from the prison confirming you were released at least 5 years ago.
Also, obtain court documents that show your date of conviction. This will confirm that 7-year limit.
Complete the TWIC Request Cover Sheet. This is where you will give reasons why you object to your application being disqualified.
You should provide a personal statement explaining the circumstances around the crime committed. Also, indicate what positive changes you have made in life since being convicted. Employment records that demonstrate a need for the card are also necessary.
If you were released on parole, have your parole officer recommend you. They can do this by confirming your good behavior while on parole.
Any other rehabilitation efforts like going through counseling and a rehab program are also helpful. Get letters of recommendation or certificates that attest to this.
The documents are reviewed by the TSA Waiver Review Board and the Director of Security Threat Evaluation. You will be notified of a decision within 60 days.
Keep copies of all papers you send. Also, request the post office for a delivery confirmation receipt to track your application.
Benefits of Having A TWIC Card
Having a TWIC card qualifies you for a variety of lucrative jobs in the transport sector and beyond. It can be a determining factor when applying for certain positions. Therefore, it can give you a leg up on other job candidates.
The TWIC card makes it much easier to move in and out of secure facilities. It is a pass that confirms you have been vetted by federal authorities. The free movement granted is great for ensuring you get your job done more efficiently.
Since the transport business adheres to schedules, it is ideal to have authorization that makes logistics easier.
This security clearance can also qualify you for better-paying jobs. It is a professional credential many maritime employers appreciate.
Given the lengthy period of validity of these cards, its low cost is worth applying for it. Even with the same process required on subsequent renewals, the potential return outweighs such concerns.
No matter how desperate you may be to secure a job, never go for fake identification. Using a fake ID to apply for a TWIC card will definitely out you. As it is a federal ID, the application details are thoroughly vetted.
Attempting to use a fake TWIC card is also a bad idea. The card has multiple security features that are difficult to replicate. If may also result in criminal charges if caught using such.
There is a streamlined and effective appeal process available to felons facing disqualification. Before pursuing such careers, check if you are eligible for a TWIC card. If you qualify for a waiver for disqualifying offenses, then go ahead.
Many felons have successfully gone through the appeals process and secured TWIC cards. They are typically valid for 5 years.
Do not take rejection to be the end. This is a federal ID you likely qualify for. You just need to put together the required supporting documents and send them in.