DS Special Agents in the United States and overseas conduct criminal investigations into passport and visa fraud. These federal felonies are often committed in connection with more other crimes, such as international terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, alien smuggling, money laundering, pedophilia, and murder. These investigations are critical to secure American borders and protect the national security of the United States.
The U.S. passport is the most valuable identity document in the world as it establishes American citizenship and allows its bearer access to virtually every country in the world. People who attempt to obtain a U.S. passport illegally, or use stolen and altered passports, often are seeking to change their identities, and conceal their activities and movements. DS conducts investigations involving the fraudulent issuance, acquisition, and use of U.S. passports. DS Special Agents cooperate with other State Department bureaus, other federal agencies, state and local law enforcement authorities, and foreign police partners, to pursue passport crime suspects.
The U.S. visa permits an alien to travel to a port of entry and apply for entry to the United States for a specific purpose, such as work or tourism. Thousands of people illegally attempt to obtain U.S. visas each year. DS personnel stationed around the world conduct investigations pertaining to the fraudulent application, issuance, procurement, counterfeiting, or forgery of U.S. visas. DS works with the Bureau of Consular Affairs on cases involving allegations of corrupt American Embassy employees, fraudulent document vendors, and the use of visas by terrorists, and those smuggling and trafficking drugs and human beings.
Passport and visa crimes are federal offenses punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum prison sentence is increased to 15 years if the offense is connected to drug trafficking, and to 20 years if connected to terrorism.