The International Prisoner Transfer Program began in 1977 when our government negotiated the first in a series of treaties to permit the transfer of prisoners from countries in which they had been convicted of crimes to their home countries. The program is designed to relieve some of the special hardships that fall upon offenders incarcerated far from home, and to facilitate the rehabilitation of these offenders. Prisoners may be transferred to and from those countries with which the United States has a treaty. (Participating countries are listed on this site). While all prisoner transfer treaties are negotiated principally by the United States Department of State, the program itself is administered by the United States Department of Justice.
A federal prisoner who wishes to apply for transfer to a prison in his home country should contact his case manager at the institution where he is incarcerated and request that a transfer application package be prepared. His application package will be forwarded to the International Prisoner Transfer Unit at the U.S. Department of Justice where it will be processed and a decision to approve or deny the transfer will be made.
A state prisoner interested in transfer must find out from the appropriate state authorities what the procedures are in that state for applying for a prisoner transfer. In order for a state prisoner to obtain a transfer to his home country, his application must be approved at both the state and federal levels. If the state does not approve the transfer request, it cannot be considered by the United States Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice will notify the prisoner’s home country of its decision. The home country will also review the prisoner’s application request and make a decision whether to agree to the prisoner’s transfer.
Americans incarcerated abroad wishing to transfer to a prison in the United States must apply for transfer with the government of the country in which they are incarcerated, either directly or through the American Embassy in that country. Information about the application process for Americans seeking a transfer to the United States can be found at Americans Incarcerated Abroad (PDF).
In order for a transfer to occur, both the sentencing country and the receiving country must approve (i.e. consent to) the prisoner’s transfer. Once both countries approve, the inmate must formally consent to his transfer at a consent verification hearing. (See “Post-Approval Procedures”)
View the Guidelines for Evaluating Transfer Applications