It is no secret that getting a passport right now is hard, regardless of whether you are a U.S. citizen or someone looking to become one. Indeed, in some areas, passport appointments are booked up for months. This may lead some to seek to use a friend’s passport. Please know that this is not legal, and for those who are caught, the potential penalties are severe.
Is it really that big of a problem?
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Laredo, Texas, yes. The CBP claims that the South Texas ports of entry (Brownsville to Del Rio) processed over 1,600 adverse actions and formal removals due to document misuse through August of this year. That is a 156% increase from last year.
What is illegal?
CBP explains that lending entry documents, like your passport, or claiming U.S. citizenship when you do not have it, are both illegal. For U.S. citizens, you could face fines and imprisonment. For non-citizens, you can face that too. However, in addition to those penalties, you could lose your ability to become a citizen.
Misuse of passports
Section 1544 of Title 18 in the U.S. Code explains that the misuse of your passport is illegal. Conviction on this charge carries al penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
It is also illegal to enter or attempt to enter the United States through any fraudulent means. This includes not only the misuse of a passport, but also using any entry document. In addition, it is illegal to falsely claim you are a citizen, or to falsely claim your children are U.S. citizens, including using false or real birth certificates that are not your children’s.
Effects on your immigration process
As a basis for all U.S. visas, you cannot have a criminal background, including unlawful entry. There are waivers, but criminal convictions in your home country and in the United States, including for unlawful entry can derail your North Carolina immigration journey.