Starting in 1977, the International Prisoner Transfer Program was the first in a series of treaties the government negotiated to allow prisoners to be transferred from the country in which they were convicted of a crime, back to their home countries. The country that takes back its citizen assumes the responsibility of continuing the transferred sentence.

The program not only applies to sentenced abroad and foreign national prisoners held in federal custody, but also to foreign national prisoners held in state custody. This program was put in place to transfer prisoners to and from countries that have a treaty relationship with the United States. You can get more information about the treaty transfer program via

It’s meant to help those who suffer special hardships because they are incarcerated so far from home. The Department of Justice runs the program, but the Department of State is the main negotiator. While the transfer process can be initiated by the prisoner’s home country, usually the application is started by the prisoner.

Prior to filing an application, the prisoner must determine if he/ she is eligible for transfer. Generally, inmates must have completed at least two-thirds of their sentence but have no less than 6 months remaining before seeking approval. However, there are a few exceptions to eligibility. For example, serving a sentence for life or death, a sentence for a military or political offense.

If a federal prisoner wants to transfer to a prison in his home country, he needs to contact the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility where he is serving his sentence and speak to his case manager about executing a Transfer Inquiry and Review Form by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. After a prisoner fills out this form, their case manager will get a transfer application package together and send it to the International Prisoner Transfer Unit to be processed and approved or denied.