A passport is a document issued by a government that certifies the identity and citizenship of the person to whom it is issued. Passport fraud occurs when someone fraudulently applies for, uses, or possesses a passport of any nation.
The most common instances of passport fraud occur when an individual applies for a passport using false documentation or when they possess or use passports that were not issued to them but have been altered to appear as if they had been. Passport fraud is a Federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, 15 years if the offense is related to narcotics trafficking and 20 years if related to acts of international terrorism.
A visa is a stamp placed in a passport by the government of a country a traveler wishes to visit. The visa allows the traveler to apply to enter that country for a specific Purpose (e.g., work or tourism). Visa fraud is the fraudulent obtaining, use, or manufacture of a visa. It is a Federal offense punishable under the same guidelines as passport fraud violations.
In the enforcement of passport or visa fraud, DSS Special Agents investigate the use of false documents. The Federal Document Fraud Law, under its felony provision, provides severe penalties for the production, transfer, or possession of false identification documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, or personal identification cards, and the implements for making them. The law covers not only documents that are or appear to be issued by the Federal Government, but also documents issued by a State, political subdivisions of a State, a foreign government, or quasi-governmental organizations.