When you first set foot on your way to prison, it’s pretty scary ㅡ At least it was for me. I’ve never known anyone to go to prison or spend time there, so I don’t know anything about anything related to the corrections world.
It can be very confusing and intimidating when you are dealing with the Correctional Services Department or the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the first time. Rarely in life do you have to deal with such a vast bureaucracy. You never know who to talk to or what the rules are. You are also at the mercy of invisible beings who now control every aspect of your life.
As scary as prison is for first-timers, it can be even worse for family and friends. Because communicating with prisoners is so difficult, it can be a huge challenge to get any information on how to send money, how to answer the phone or what is needed to visit an incarcerated loved one.
When you can’t talk to the people you love, your imagination can get out of control. When someone is incarcerated, you probably start thinking about all the things that could go wrong. It is important for prisoners to speak with their friends and family on a regular basis, whether by mail, phone or visitation.
Visitation is highly encouraged in most prisons, as it is an important part of an inmate’s recovery. When your loved one is sentenced to prison, often the first thing you want to know is how to visit the inmate and send them money.
This is one of the reasons we decided to create Prison Insightㅡ to help family and friends find all the information they need when their loved one is in prison.
Thanks to members of the Prison Insight Facebook community for their questions, today’s topic is Federal Form BP-A0629, also known as the “Visitor Application,” for incarcerated prisoners in facilities managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- What is Form A0629 for?
- What does Form A0629 require?
- Where do I send Form A0629?
- How long does it take to become an approved visitor?
- What to do if approval takes longer than expected
What is Form A0629 for?
Form BP-A0629 is a visitor application form that must be completed by anyone (adult or child) who wishes to visit an inmate held in a facility operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Essentially, the app is a way for prison officials to approve or deny potential visitors so they can keep their facilities safe. This is a security measure that allows BOP to conduct background checks on potential visitors to ensure they do not pose a threat to the facility in any way.
Anyone they allow into the prison gates is considered a security risk, so they use A0629 to help them reduce that risk.
Note that this does not apply to inmates held in federal prisons run by private companies or in state prisons, as these facilities have their own visitation request forms.
Once prisoners arrive at their designated facility, they receive a stack of A0629 forms, which they can mail to their friends and family, who must fill out the forms and mail them back.You can also find forms online by Click here.
You cannot visit inmates until your application has been approved by prison staff, so please do not try as you will be turned away. Prisoners are allowed to add the following to their access list:
- adoptive parents)
- in law
Other Types of Accredited Visitors
- No more than 10 friends/colleagues
- foreign officials
- members of religious groups, including clergy
- Civic group members
- Employer (former or prospective employer)
- parole counselor
If you don’t know which facility your inmate is being held in, you can use the prisoner locator Get this information on the BOP website.
When an inmate first enters a prison or is transferred to a new facility, there may not be a visitation list. In such cases, visits by immediate family members verified by the information contained in the prisoner’s pre-sentence report may be permitted.
However, if there is little or no information about a person, access may be denied. You should always call the prison ahead of time to make sure your visitation is granted.
What does Form A0629 require?
Form A0629 is a one-page document, available in English and Spanish, and contains 14 areas that you must complete in order to be approved for a visit. You will be asked to provide the following information:
- legal name
- date of birth
- telephone number
- The race and gender of the visitor
- Driver’s license number and issue status
- Are you American? If you answer yes, you must provide your social security number. If you answer no, you must provide your Alien Registration Number or Passport Number.
- your relationship with the prisoner
- Do you want to visit the prisoner?
- Did you know this person before going to prison?
- Have you ever been found guilty?
- Are you currently on probation or parole?
- Do you correspond or visit with other prisoners?
When you fill out the form, you are requesting to be added to your inmate’s approved visitor list. In order to obtain approval, prison officials may send inquiries to the appropriate law enforcement or criminal agencies to ensure that you will not be a problem for the facility.
You are not required to provide all requested information, but if you do not provide all necessary information your application will be delayed and you may not be considered for an interview.
Lying on BP-A0629 is against federal law, so if you don’t want to provide the requested information, forget about it instead of trying to falsify the document. If you are caught lying on this form, you could be subject to criminal prosecution and you could face fines and jail time yourself.
Where do I send Form A0629?
When you have completed the form, do not mail it to your inmates. Instead, you must mail the A0629 to the inmate counselor at the facility where the inmate is located. If you print out your application online, it can be difficult to find out who it is.
When a cellmate mails you the A0629 form, there should be information on the form to return the form. If you need to know exactly who you should send your completed application to, please call the agency directly.
General telephone numbers for each federal agency are available at Prison Insights. You can find this information simply by clicking on the prison name in our ‘Find a Facility’ section. We also provide a mailing address for each facility.
How long does it take to become an approved visitor?
The approval process usually takes about 30 to 60 days. For immediate family, however, it may go faster. Sometimes, depending on the facility and circumstances, it will take a little longer.
What to do if approval takes longer than expected
If you haven’t heard back on your application after 60 days, it’s time to start calling. You should call the facility and ask to speak with your inmate’s counselor. They should be able to give you the information you need or investigate the situation.
If you find yourself waiting, don’t be afraid to call the warden so you can find out what’s going on. The last thing any prison official wants is someone in the free world to complain about their facility. Remember, squeaky wheels get grease!
Have you ever visited someone in a federal prison? If so, let us know your experience in the comments below.