WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Burgess Owens (UT-04) and Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the No Travel for Traffickers Act, bipartisan legislation to revoke a country’s eligibility for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program if they participate in citizenship-by-investment, the practice of selling passports in exchange for economic investment. Also known as “golden passports,” these schemes require little vetting and are notoriously abused by human traffickers, international criminals, and corrupt oligarchs. Russia is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to using these golden passport schemes as a back door into other countries.
“Human trafficking kingpins and other international criminal enterprises rely heavily on their passport purchasing power to freely travel the world, establish a foothold in multiple countries, open bank accounts, and evade accountability,” said Rep. Owens. “The No Travel for Traffickers Act addresses the severe security risks of golden passports, signaling a critical step in our efforts to isolate bad actors around the globe.”
“Giving traffickers the ability to purchase passports or extending citizenship rights allows them to travel the world and escape accountability for their crimes,” said Rep. Cohen. “Many countries sell citizenship to traffickers through phony ‘investments’ such as real estate, and this must be stopped. I am proud to join Congressman Owens in introducing the No Travel for Traffickers Act, which will help restrict this misuse of the legal process.”
“Congressmen Owens and Cohen are leading to protect our security by introducing bipartisan legislation to clamp down on the dangerous practice by some countries who sell their citizenship and passports. These so-called “golden passport” schemes are abused by criminals and traffickers from around the world, and this practice needs to come to an end.” – Marshall Billingslea, former Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing at the U.S. Department of the Treasury
Specifically, the No Travel for Traffickers Act would:
- Ban participation of countries that sell passports from participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
- Mandate that the Executive Branch list publicly all countries with citizenship-by-investment or “Golden Passport” programs.
- Direct the Executive Branch to cooperate with the United Kingdom and the European Union to eliminate Schengen area visa-free travel for countries that sell passports.
- Prohibit the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to vet “golden passport” applicants so taxpayer dollars cannot be used to enable these corrupt programs.