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Revocation of U.S. Passports of Certain Sexual Offenders

On May 11, 2018, the Department of State released its final rules providing various changes on passport revocations. In addition to statutory grounds for revocation, the Department of State included revocation of passport of U.S. citizens who are convicted of certain illicit sexual conduct.

Richard, a 63 year old U.S. citizen traveled to the Philippines in 2012. Upon his return to the United States, his brother discovered child pornography saved on his computer. Evidence showed that Richard had sexually abused 2 minor children while in the Philippines. Richard was investigated, charged with child pornography and engaging in child sexual conduct in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2423. After hearing, Richard was sentenced to 190 years imprisonment.

Anti-Child Sexual Tourism

Child sex tourism (CST) involves people who travel from their own country to another and engage in commercial sex acts with children. Under the federal law, child sexual tourism carries heavy penalties even if the crime was committed by a U.S. citizen or a green card holder outside of the United States. The following are the illicit sexual crimes that may be committed abroad:

  • Engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places – U.S. citizens and legal residents are prohibited from going to another country and molesting or raping a child, or paying to have sex with a child. This carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison (18 U.S.C. Section 2423(c)).
  • Ancillary Offenses, makes it illegal to be involved in the child sex tourism industry (sex tour operator). If you violate this law, you could face up to 30 years in prison.18 U.S.C. Section 2423(d)
  • Production of Child Pornography outside the United States – makes it illegal to produce pornographic images outside of the US and import or intend to import them into the U.S. First time offenders face 15 to 30 years in prison for violating this law.18 U.S.C. Sections 2251(c) and 2260(a))
  • Sex Trafficking of children by force, fraud, or coercion – makes it illegal to knowingly obtain a child (whether they are American or foreign) and offer or coerce them to engage in any type of sexual activity for something of value – including money, favor, goods or other type of benefit. This carries 15 years to life in prison if the child was under the age of 14, and 10 years to life in prison if the child victim was over the age of 14 and under the age of 18 (18 U.S.C. Section 1591)

Following a conviction of the crimes described above, the Department of State shall revoke the U.S. passport of the criminal offender if the passport was used to travel abroad in the commission of the underlying offense. If the sexual offender is abroad and his passport is revoked while outside the United States, the U.S. Department of State may issue a limited validity passport for direct return to the United States.

In the case of Richard above, the revocation of the U.S. passport is the least possible consequence. This sexual offense is a shameful affront on the dignity of a child and his lifetime imprisonment conviction serves him right.

(Atty. Lourdes S. Tancinco is a San Francisco based immigration lawyer and immigrant’s rights advocate. She may be reached at,, or 1 888 930 0808)

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