False IdentificationImmigration Matters18
Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 1541 to 1546, provide criminal penalties
offenses related to passports, visas, and related documents. Sections 1541
1544 exclusively concern passports. Section 1545 deals with safe conducts
well as passports. Section 1546 deals with visas, permits, and related
documents. See 3 A.L.R. Fed. 623.A passport is defined at 8 U.S.C.
1101(a)(30) as "any travel document issued by competent authority showing
bearer's origin, identity, and nationality, if any, which is valid for the
of the bearer into a foreign country." The Supreme Court has stated "[A
passport] is a document, which, from its nature and object, is addressed to
foreign powers; purporting only to be a request, that the bearer of it may
safely and freely; and is to be considered rather in the character of a
document, by which the bearer is recognized, in foreign countries, as an
citizen; and which, by usage and the law of nations, is received as evidence
the fact." See Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280, 292 (1981). Title
U.S.C. § 1104 entrusts control of passport and visa matters to the
of State, and establishes a Passport Office and a Visa Office. Title 8
§ 1185(b) makes it unlawful for a United States citizen to attempt to
from or enter the United States without a valid passport, except as
by the President.|
Section 211a of Title 22 authorizes the Secretary of State to issue
United States passports in foreign countries. Section 212 limits issuance
United States passports to United States nationals only. Section 213
the method of applying for a passport; sections 213, 214a, and 215 control
fees for passports and section 217a limits the temporal validity of
no more than 10 years. State Department regulations governing passports
at 22 C.F.R. Part 51. See 59A Am.Jur.2d "Passports" for a general
discussion of the law of passports.
The statutory maximum term of imprisonment for violations of 18
§§ 1541 - 1546 is 10 years. However, 18 U.S.C. § 1547
notwithstanding any other provision of title 18, the maximum term of
that may be imposed for passport and visa violations (except violations
U.S.C. § 1545) if committed to facilitate a drug trafficking crime is
years; and if committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism is
The statute of limitations for violations of 18 U.S.C. §§
to 1544 is 10 years. See 18 U.S.C. § 3291.
Section 1541 of Title 18 makes it a crime to issue or verify a
passport, or other instrument in the nature of a passport, without authority
do so. For example, state and local governments may not issue documents
to facilitate overseas travel of their residents. 17 Op.Att.Gen. 674
Similarly, forgery of a document purporting to be such a travel document
by a state or local government would also violate section 1541. Section
also makes it a crime for consular officers to verify passports for persons
owing allegiance to the United States, even if they are citizens.
Section 1542 proscribes both false statements made to obtain a
passport, and use of any passport so obtained. The false statement against
this section is most commonly used is the use of a false name in obtaining a
passport. United States citizens attempt to obtain passports using false
in order to conceal criminal activity. A problem of proof can arise when
passport applicant has routinely used aliases and now seeks to obtain a
in one of those aliases. See, e.g., United States v.
F.2d 1528 (11th Cir. 1985); United States v. Wasman, 641 F.2d 326
Cir. 1981), aff'd, 464 U.S. 932 (1984); United States v. Cox,
F.2d 46 (6th Cir. 1979).
Browder v. United States, 312 U.S. 335 (1941), is the
case on use of a passport, the application for which contained a false
Browder obtained a passport in his real name, but in the portion of the
application asking when his last passport was obtained, he falsely stated,
"none." This statement was false because he had previously obtained a
in a false name. He then used the new passport to enter the United States.
Supreme Court upheld Browder's conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1542 for
use of a passport secured by a false statement. See 53 A.L.R.Fed.
Section 1543 proscribes the forgery, alteration, etc., of passports
the use of or furnishing to another of a forged, altered, void, etc.,
or purported passport. It applies to instruments issued or purportedly
by foreign governments as well as by the United States. See
States v. Dangdee, 616 F.2d 1118 (9th Cir. 1980).
Section 1544 proscribes the use or attempted use of someone else's
passport, or its use in violation of any applicable regulation or law. It
proscribes giving one's passport to another for the other's use.
The first paragraph of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a) proscribes the
counterfeiting, altering or falsely making of certain immigration documents
their use, possession, or receipt. The second paragraph proscribes the
possession, or bringing into the United States of plates or distinctive
used for the printing of entry documents. The third paragraph makes it a
when applying for an entry document or admission into the United States, to
personate another or appear under a false name. The fourth paragraph makes
a crime to give a false statement under oath in any document required by the
immigration laws or regulations. Subsection 1546(b) makes it a felony
to use a false identification document, or to misuse a real one, for the
of satisfying the employment verification provisions in 8 U.S.C. §
COMMENT: Further discussion of immigration related false
offenses may be found in the this Manual at
Also, a further discussion of offenses defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1546 is
forth in Immigration Law, Chapter 7, USABook.
[cited in USAM 9-64.400]