What is the penalty for dual US citizens who lie on the ESTA form in order to enter under VWP using their second passport?

An answer to a related question mentions that it’s possible for dual US citizens to acquire an ESTA without lying, however it’s likely that the authorization would be revoked shortly before their flight.

This begs the question of what is the maximum penalty for a US citizen who lies on the ESTA form (by omitting the fact that they are dual US citizens) and then proceeds to enter the country under VWP using their second passport? Obviously they cannot be deported or banned from future visits, but what about monetary/criminal penalties?

A related question shows that no real penalty exists for entering/leaving the USA with a foreign passport, so perhaps it’s also legal to misrepresent yourself on the ESTA form.

Answer

Your answer lies right here. A fine, without a defined maximum. Now of course if the perpetrator went on to commit an act of terrorism, then the imprisonment would come into play.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1001

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device
a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or
fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any
false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially
false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

  • shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or,
    if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as
    defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.
    If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or
    117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under
    this section shall be not more than 8 years.

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