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Passport revoked

[ 4/27/18]

By Scott . . . I’m on the board of Illinois Voices for Reform and have been actively involved with the organization since 2012. I am on the registry for life as currently required by Illinois law due to an incident involving a minor back in 2008. I served two years of probation and successfully completed sex offender counseling in 2012. My wife and I love to travel, and we were fortunate to be able to travel to Europe for a week at the end of March. I gave the federally required 21 days international travel notice to my local police department. I had no problems traveling to Europe other than the usual hassle of being sent to secondary at O’Hare airport upon return to the U.S. which is typically a 5-10 minute inconvenience.

Approximately two weeks after I returned from Europe, the U.S. State Department sent out a passport revocation letter as required by International Megan’s Law. This letter arrived at my home via certified mail about a week after they sent it. The letter, as shown, requires me to immediately return my passport since under federal law my passport needs to contain words alerting countries that I was convicted of a sex offense against a minor. The government requires me to return my passport, and if I want a new one, I have to apply for one as if I have never had a passport. The expense will be around $200 for a new passport which includes obtaining a copy of my birth certificate ($26), another 10-year passport ($110) which, by the way, I had already renewed last year, and the execution fee ($35).

If the government requires this stamp on my passport, I can’t understand why they just don’t make me mail in the passport so that some overpaid government worker can stamp it and mail it back to me. Why does the government revoke my passport and make me go through the expense and hassle of renewing the passport?

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  1. FRegistryTerrorists

    Just keep in mind that people who support this harassment deserve to be punished. They are not Americans. They are not your neighbors. They are criminal, harassing terrorists who cannot mind their own business or leave other people alone. Their intent is to harm people, their spouses, and their children.

    • Roger

      @FRegistryTerrorists, I assume you mean POLITICALLY punished, with which I would agree.

      However, ACSOL and other organizations fighting for the rights of registrants would condemn any kind of violence or other illegal actions. If anyone were to do illegal actions, it would strip whatever little hard-earned sympathy we have slowly been earning from society.

      Let’s work TOGETHER to Show Up, Stand Up, and Speak Up. We can use people like MLK as inspiration for lasting change.

  2. Eric

    If this wasn’t punishment and harassment then the more effective way would be to e-mail the appropriate authorities at your destination. Why is allowing non-professionals at service desks who see your passport doing justice or protecting children? And what does the person at the airline counter do when they see your passport? They notify the appropriate authorities, which could have been done before the traveler left. No, this is clearly about public humiliation as a form of punishment. Otherwise a more effective and professional confidential means would be made. If a person is a drug smuggler it isn’t stamped on their passport, but you can be sure the authorities know they are coming to town.

  3. Sunny

    And what happens if you simply refuse to send in your passport? If this happens to me, I fully intend to commit civil disobedience and hold onto my existing passport. The silver lining may be that registrants could appeal their underlying conviction on the grounds that had they known about this passport requirement, they would have pled not guilty and gone to trial. I certainly intend to challenge my underlying misdemeanor conviction if I receive such a letter regarding my passport. We should all, at the very least, bring litigation in these cases. If you lack funds, most states will waive the court fees if you make little to no income, but you will of course have to file it yourself.

    • PK

      Wouldn’t it be revoked automatically in the System?

    • David Kennerly, The Government-Driven Life

      I really struggle to see how the government can demand them back. They’ve already canceled the damned things and they won’t work. On what basis can they demand their return? Apart from seizing the passports of those under criminal indictment to prevent them fleeing the tender mercies of the U.S. “justice system,” I can think of no other occasion when they have “demanded” them back. Personally, I would keep it.

      • Mr. D

        @David K – Exactly. In this case they are requesting that you apply for a new passport as if you’re almost never had one. I am going to Europe this summer for work and it will be interesting to see if I get a letter upon my return. Beyond fighting them over the language of the word conviction which my 1203.4 supposedly removes ever have been convicted I will set that passport aside and when I get my new one with the supposed identifier on the back page I will keep the old one and use it when I travel internationally and use it toward Identifying myself at hotels and anywhere else where they are looking for ID.

        • David Kennerly, The Government-Driven Life

          I like your spirit. However, when you get a new passport, they expect you to turn in your old one which they will return to you, albeit with a hole drilled all the way through it, just to put a fine point on its invalidity. If you fail to turn in your old passport, even if you say that you’ve lost it, the State Department will make you pay in other ways. You go on a list that says that you are suspected of not playing nice with the government, your lord-and-master, and this has a way of following you. There is, after all, a thriving black market for real passports. It may result in adverse scrutiny at borders and whatever other inconveniences they can think of. I got pulled over at Immigration in China once because they SUSPECTED that I might have a lost or stolen passport even though I have never had one go missing. This was right after State had renewed my passport but held it up right till my date of departure because THEY seemed to think that I had reported a passport lost or stolen. I never had and I don’t know where they got that idea from. Hong Kong still refused me entry but there was more to that: they had recently eliminated visa-on-arrival from Hong Kong (coming on the train) and I didn’t know that. Anyway, all of these damned governments take “lost” or “stolen” passports very, very seriously. INTERPOL also puts you on a list, the database of Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD), which means that they will be on the lookout for that passport for a very long time. So…. if you happen to be carrying BOTH in your travels, the one being for hotels, banks, rental cars, etc., then you run the risk of being discovered and there certainly is a criminal penalty for lying about a lost or stolen passport. If you are like most of us and get pulled over by Homeland Security every time you return to the country and your bags and your person thoroughly searched, as I always do – and they FIND it – then you are in a heap of trouble. Sigh. I can’t recommend it even if it is something I would like to do myself. You really need to turn it in if, and when, they demand you return it and IF you still need a valid passport to travel. If not, then, by all means, keep it. Let us know how it goes.

        • Sunny

          I wonder how difficult it would be to simply remove the “marker” on the back page, like if the ink could be obscured or altered in some way to make it illegible. In any case, I don’t intend to give up my passport if I ever receive such a letter. I doubt any government official would come to my door seeking my passport, however I suspect that once revoked in the system, officials at the border would then seize the passport. I’m not sure how it works. I wonder about registrants living in states that have chosen against implementing Real ID; residents of those states will have to rely on passports for domestic travel, which is constitutionally protected.

        • TS

          @Sunny, et al

          Altering a passport is frowned upon. Read below:

          Passport and Visa Fraud: A Quick Course

          18 U.S. Code § 1543 – Forgery or false use of passport

          Whoever falsely makes, forges, counterfeits, mutilates, or alters any passport or instrument purporting to be a passport, with intent that the same may be used; or

          Whoever willfully and knowingly uses, or attempts to use, or furnishes to another for use any such false, forged, counterfeited, mutilated, or altered passport or instrument purporting to be a passport, or any passport validly issued which has become void by the occurrence of any condition therein prescribed invalidating the same—

          Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 25 years (if the offense was committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism (as defined in section 2331 of this title)), 20 years (if the offense was committed to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (as defined in section 929(a) of this title)), 10 years (in the case of the first or second such offense, if the offense was not committed to facilitate such an act of international terrorism or a drug trafficking crime), or 15 years (in the case of any other offense), or both.

          (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 771; Pub. L. 103–322, title XIII, § 130009(a)(2), title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(I), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2030, 2147; Pub. L. 104–208, div. C, title II, § 211(a)(2), Sept. 30, 1996, 110 Stat. 3009–569; Pub. L. 107–273, div. B, title IV, § 4002(a)(3), Nov. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 1806.)

        • AJ

          @Mr. D.:
          Beyond fighting them over the language of the word conviction which my 1203.4 supposedly removes ever have been convicted[.]
          Good luck fighting a Federal law using a California law. The Federal definition of “conviction” operates independent of any State definitions or actions.

    • Hypothetical revoked passport retrieval

      One way they could get their revoked passport in your name back is through a compliance check with a few extra people involved during a multi-agency compliance sweep possibly where you are highlighted for checking on and retrieving of it (but you wouldn’t know it) or since FBI/Marshal’s are able to do the work on request from the Department of State and they happen to be in the area with the local LE office doing similar compliance work. Not saying they would go the distance to do this for retrieving it, but since RCs know these checks do happen, the cover is there.

      Another way is to hold any tax returns or other US Government monetary value in the person’s name whose passport was revoked until the passport has been returned. Not saying they would go the distance to do this for retrieving it either.

      You have to think about how you would do it if you were on their side then flip it when you are opposing them. They have ways, but it would take work on their part to do it with stretched resources already.

      • AJ

        @Hypothetical revoked passport retrieval:
        Just how would local LE, FBI, USMS, State, or *any* government body get the passport without a warrant? If anyone is letting *any* LEO across their threshold for any reason that doesn’t involve supervision or a warrant, they’re putting themselves at needless, extreme risk. Beyond that, what’s to say you haven’t already mailed it in and it got lost? There are many cases of Post Office types hoarding, and even burning, undelivered mail for years. Maybe one’s returned passport suffered a similar fate.

        Methinks your hypothetical lacking.

  4. D

    I like your civil disobedience idea. I’m not sure how it would work, because all U.S. passports clearly state that they are the property of U.S. government and may be revoked at its discretion. Nonetheless, the fact that we are being singled out for persecution and others (i.e., drug dealers, bank robbers, etc) are not being so identified, certainly would be a good argument of unequal treatment. (In my own humble I-am-not-a-lawyer opinion.)

    I am hoping that the lawsuit against IML will result in an injunction against D.O.S. revoking any more passports. I will be heading to Europe in the fall and, as things stand at the moment, I expect that I will receive a revocation letter upon my return to the U.S.

    • David Kennerly, The Government-Driven Life

      I have never heard of State ever demanding the return of a passport unless it belonged to the subject of a criminal investigation out on bail. Although, they may do this with so-called “deadbeat dads” and people accused of stealing their own money from the federal government in the form of tax avoidance, I had assumed that they just canceled the passports in their monster system in which case they’re pretty useless anyway as a viable travel document unless you’re a black marketeer and know how to modify it to match an actual person. If it were me, and I were not wanting to renew my passport for a piece-of-shit scarlet letter version, I would try keeping it and see how persistent and threatening they became. If it got too uncomfortable, I might cave.

      • AJ

        @David Kennerly:
        I have never heard of State ever demanding the return of a passport unless it belonged to the subject of a criminal investigation out on bail.
        I agree. I know multiple federal employees who have kept their Official passports after expiration, despite their being property of the USG. Official passports are those used by federal employees, other than diplomats (who get ones that say “Diplomat” on them), when traveling internationally on USG business. They’re only good for 5 years, are embossed with “OFFICIAL” on the cover, and the cover is red-brown, instead of blue.

        I think the only time it will matter is if one tries to use it after revocation or when seeking a renewal. Beyond that, I think State has bigger fish to fry.

  5. JohnDoe

    I would suggest Scott gets the best Lawyer that he can, or joins a class-action lawsuit if possible in any way. Suing the idiots in government is the only chance for justice.

    Scott certainly made the ultimate mistake, and that was being honest with with his Government and giving that travel notice. You might as well have said you were Jewish to the Nazi Regime.

    When people get it through their heads finally that this government does NOT, in ANY WAY, have your best intentions at heart, then maybe they will stand together and say ‘Uncle sam, please shove these laws up your a**s where they belong’.

    • AJ

      Scott certainly made the ultimate mistake, and that was being honest with with his Government and giving that travel notice.
      Riiigght, because the Feds never crosscheck travelers against criminal databases or anything. And goodness knows USMS would never lurk at the departure gate to nab someone, making an example out of them. What the heck was he thinking, avoiding a Federal offense?

  6. Registry Keeps Me From My Partner

    FYI, in NY if you’re on parole or probation and intend on travelling abroad, the probation office will require you to submit your old passport and apply for and obtain a new IML passport before you travel.

    They say “We’re just following what IML clearly states you need to do”.

  7. Timothy D.A. Lawver

    Congress acts to protect non US constituency interests….sold out for sure. Blame the russians. Housed in Utah the Angel Watch programs in that pesky NSA facility used to gather metadata under sec. 702 on All American Citizens, Biometric data as well. Head on over to for details on that.

    We are not experiencing a centralization of power are we?

    • David Kennerly, The Government-Driven Life

      Thanks, Timothy but I’m not finding a reference to the Utah Data Center and Angel Watch at EFF or on Google. Is it stated anywhere that those facilities are used for Angel Watch?


    I wonder if this falls under the Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments. You now are paying more for (because you are paying again) for the same privileges

  9. bob

    I do NOT TRAVEL (just in the us) If im asked via letter… not happening, letter going in the TRASH SAME as the JURY NOTICE Letters do ! LOL
    A passport is great as a second id (bank account or whatever) yea they MA?Y enter it into the bank system but they dont use it for anything other than

    I used to reply convicted on such and such, and would return it UNSIGNED I got a reply saying SIGN Here, tossed it in the trash to ! haha

  10. Justa#

    Recently traveled to Asia to visit family and also for business. My wife and child hold both US and foriegn passports. I gave the 21 day notice. Upon arrival at destination I was held in custody under guard in a “hotel” room that I was obliged to pay for. Ended up being given a mattress on the floor in the middle of the night between two strangers. Wasnt allowed to purchase water or food. Luckily one of my fellow “inmates” allowed me to have some of his water as I had medications that I needed to take. Come morning I called the US Embassy to plead my case. 25 years since completing treatment with perfect record. Many trips overseas no problems. I was able to call Embassy who talked to local immigration who’s response was that I had been flagged by the US, not anything in thier local system. My passport was held and I was put on a plane to my layover after 24 hours. On the plane I politely demanded my passport which they refused to return, saying it would be returned in the US. At my layover I continued to demand my passport which after much polite argument was returned to me. On arrival in the US I scanned my passport in the automated system and was routed to an agent. I presented not my valid passport but my expired passport to the agent out of fear that it would be confiscated or marked. This triggered 5 gaurds escorting me to inspection. After they assured me that my passport would not be marked, I finally presented my valid passport, and after inspection, and confiscating my expired passport I was allowed to leave. Now months later I recieve a letter saying my passport has been revoked and that I need to return it and apply for a Scarlet letter. Now my plans to retire on the property we own seems unachievable. I’ve already made my mind up as to my course of action, and the constitutionality in this matter, but thought it might be useful to get input and share my experience with others.

    • PK

      You mentioned that you recently traveled to Asia, and then months later you received a revocation letter.

      When exactly did you travel to Asia?

      How long ago did you receive your letter?

      Which country was it?

    • Mike G

      There are probably many of us with similar experiences, but your treatment was much worse than mine. I traveled to an Asian country (Thailand) with my wife to visit her family whom I had never met. Ironically, my wife and daughter also have U.S. and Thai passports.

      They were waiting for me (4 security people) with a placard with my name on it as I got off the plane. I thought my wife’s family had arranged a special welcome for me! Well it was special. After I identified myself to them, they escorted me and my wife to a small room inside the airport where they showed me a copy of the letter they had received from the U.S. Government (Angel Watch). Attached to the letter was an 8 1/2 x 11 photo of me taken from some website, and on my picture it said “Child Sex Predator”. Well, I am certainly not that, and no one who knows what I did 24 years ago to get on the registry thinks that it even rises to the level of molestation, but I guess that is beside point now.

      After a couple of hours of my wife trying to call someone who might help (unfortunately it was a Friday evening) we gave up, and ended up leaving on the same plane we flew in on. Interestingly, they never looked at, nor even asked to see my passport. They were actually very nice. They even turned me loose to wander around the airport, telling me where I could find some restaurants to get something to eat. They only warned me not to miss my flight. While I was wandering the airport, my wife went outside to meet her waiting family, and give them some gifts we had brought for them.

      It was rather devastating, but could have been a lot worse, I guess. We lost around $4000 with the plane tickets and the tours we had booked that they wouldn’t refund.

      My passport was revoked about a month ago, shortly after we returned from two weeks in Europe.

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