Passport Fraud: Insights by Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law

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Understanding Passport Fraud

Passport fraud encompasses various illegal activities related to the acquisition, alteration, or use of passports through deceptive means. This includes forging or counterfeiting passports, stealing someone else’s identity to obtain a passport, providing false information during the passport application process, and misusing passports for unauthorized purposes.

Passport fraud is sometimes used by individuals seeking to immigrate to the U.S. unlawfully. For example, someone might obtain a U.S. passport fraudulently to enter illegally, to deceive immigration authorities about their identity or background, or to falsely claim eligibility for immigration benefits.

Engaging in passport fraud can have severe consequences on an individual’s immigration status and benefits. If discovered, it can lead to deportation, denial of entry or re-entry into the U.S., and even criminal charges. Furthermore, individuals found guilty of passport fraud may become ineligible for certain immigration benefits, such as obtaining lawful permanent residency (green card) or citizenship.

Engaging in passport fraud is not only illegal but also unnecessary when there are legitimate ways to pursue immigration goals. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help individuals understand their options, navigate complex immigration laws, and pursue lawful pathways to achieve their immigration objectives.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we take great pride in assisting people achieve their immigration goals for decades. We can help you navigate lawful pathways to obtain legal immigration status.

What Is Passport Fraud?

Passport and visa fraud encompasses a range of illicit activities, including forgery, the creation of false documents, or the unauthorized use of the identity of a deceased person to procure a passport.

It involves deliberately deceiving the State Department or other authorities to avoid deportation or obtain immigration benefits such as a passport, entry into the U.S., and employment. It can also be used to facilitate criminal activity, including committing financial crimes, trafficking, and terrorism. 

As a federal crime, passport fraud is investigated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security Service.

Types of Passport Fraud

Stolen or Altered Passport: This type of fraud involves the theft of someone’s passport and its subsequent alteration or the complete fabrication of a passport.

False Documents: Utilizing fabricated identification documents, such as a fake birth certificate, to support a passport application constitutes passport fraud.

False Identity: Applying for a passport under an assumed or counterfeited identity is another form of passport fraud. For example, using a deceased person’s identity to apply for a passport.

How Passport Fraud Can Affect Your Immigration Status

Engaging in passport fraud can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. It jeopardizes the individual’s immigration status and can lead to deportation or ineligibility for future U.S. citizenship.

Owning, using, or presenting a fake or counterfeit passport to an official is considered a false claim to U.S. citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It is a crime punishable by fines and up to 25 years in prison under 18 U.S. Code § 1541-1546. If arrested at a port of entry, offenders will be subject to immediate deportation.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) explains that such a claim doesn’t have to be made to a government official to lead to inadmissibility. Therefore, you can be arrested for falsely claiming citizenship if you use a fake passport in any situation, including in the context of employment.

Unlike other forms of fraud and wilful misrepresentation, making a false claim to U.S. citizenship is a ground for inadmissibility that cannot be waived. This means that you will not be eligible for entry or re-entry into the U.S. for life!

In a nutshell, the consequences of passport fraud can include:

  • Revocation of visa or green card: Legal documents such as visas or green cards can be revoked if obtained through fraudulent means.

  • Denial of future immigration benefits: Involvement in passport fraud can lead to the refusal of future immigration petitions and applications.

  • Deportation or removal proceedings: Engaging in passport fraud can trigger the initiation of removal from the United States.

Exception to the No-Waiver Rule For False Claims to Citizenship

The no-waiver rule only applies to false claims to U.S. citizenship made on or after September 30, 1996. Claims made prior to this date may still be able to apply for fraud and wilful misrepresentation waivers.

 

How Can Someone Report Suspected Passport Fraud?

 

To report suspected passport fraud, contact the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Passport Integrity via the government website or hotline. Provide details about the suspected fraud, including any false information or identities used.

Reports can also be made to federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security. Ensure you have relevant information about how the passport was obtained. This helps authorities investigate and prevent fraudulent activities.

Reporting passport fraud protects national security and maintains the integrity of government-issued identification. For more information, visit the official .gov website or local government offices.

Pathways to Lawful Immigration Status

People who resort to passport fraud for non-criminal reasons are usually desperate to reunite with family members or escape violence or prosecution. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for the following legal pathways to U.S. residency:

  • Asylum: Offers protection to individuals fleeing persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. In most cases, you must apply within one year of arrival in the U.S. or at a port of entry.

  • Refugee Status: Granted to individuals outside the U.S. unable to return home due to persecution. Selected through UNHCR referral or as part of a designated group.

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS): Granted to individuals from countries facing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other temporary crises. TPS allows temporary stay and work authorization.

  • U Visa (Victims of Crime): Available to crime victims who assist law enforcement, the U visa provides temporary legal status and a potential pathway to permanent residency.

  • VAWA Self-Petition (Violence Against Women Act): VAWA petitions allow abused spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens or residents to self-petition for immigration status without the abuser’s consent or participation. It requires evidence of abuse and a qualifying relationship.

More popular routes include family and employment-based green cards. Our attorneys at Andrew T. Thomas are available to assist you in exploring your options and taking the first steps.

Secure Your Future with Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law

Passport fraud poses a serious threat to your future in the United States. We have an extensive track record of assisting clients in safeguarding their ambitions. Whether it’s exploring legal pathways or helping you comprehend the adjudication process, our approach is personalized and thorough. We underscore the importance of lawful means to secure your immigration status and vehemently advise against fraudulent methods.

If you find yourself entangled in complications related to passport fraud, we urge you to seek our professional assistance. Our knowledge and determined advocacy are what you need to address passport fraud effectively and protect your immigration status.

Remember, your future and your family’s unity are of paramount importance. Let us help protect them.