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Visa fraud has different criteria in various parts of the world but the commonly accepted points are the sale, provision, or transfer of otherwise legitimate visas, misrepresentation of reasons for traveling and forgery or alteration of a visa.
The United States reports that most cases of visa fraud are related to immigrants lying about their situation to seek refuge in the country, though smuggling and terrorism are also both key factors in the crime.
In the United States, visa fraud can be prosecuted under several statutes, including;
- 18 USC 1546 Fraud and Misuse of Visas, Permits, and Other Documents
- 18 USC 1001 False Statements or Entries Generally
- 18 USC 1028 Fraud in Connection with Identification Documents
It is a federal offense subject to harsh sentencing, though mitigating factors are often taken into account in the case of potential immigrants. The maximum penalties faced by fraudsters are recounted below.
- 10 years for a first offense not tied to terrorism or drug trafficking
- 15 years for fraud with other criminal links
- 20 years for fraud related to drug trafficking
- 25 years for fraud related to international terrorism