The Union of Students in Ireland is warning Irish students on J1 working visas or US travel visas not to travel on modified passports.

The USI has learned that some students have been placing laminates on their passport detail pages in order to change their date of birth while in the US.

The legal drinking age in the US is 21.

The union says it is aware of several students who have been arrested while trying to travel or gain entry into licensed premises in the US using modified passports.

‘It should be noted that this laminate is easily detectable by border control officers and other personnel, inspecting travel documents.

‘The attachment of this laminate to passports compromises that travel document. Furthermore, its removal will likely cause irreparable damage.’

The USI stressed that falsifying or altering a passport, which is a criminal offence in Ireland, is deemed a federal offence in the US.

Federal crimes in the US could be punishable by imprisonment in a Federal prison and/or deportation and refusal of future entry to the country.

It says students who have modified their travel documents in any way should stop using the passport immediately and contact their nearest Irish embassy or Consulate to arrange a replacement.

USI President Gary Redmond says adding the laminate to Irish passports seems to have originated with students from colleges in Cork and spread from there.

The union says it knows of one case in San Diego where an Irish student was arrested with an altered document at a nightclub - before local police passed the case to the FBI. The Department of Foreign Affairs was forced to intervene through its consulate in San Francisco to get the student out of custody.

The USI fears cases such as this could put the future of the J1 visa under threat.

Information on passports can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs website

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