I have warrants in Texas for a traffic ticket and drug paraphernalia but I exited the US to Japan and I have dual citizenship. My US passport has my American name with my father's last name. I recently made a Japanese passport with my mother’s maiden name. But my question is, are the two connected and if I were to enter the US again will I be stopped and arrested?

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    How do you have a passport in two names? Did you change your name in the intervening time? Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 18:13
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    @AzorAhai: The idea that an individual has a single legal name at a given time is oversimplified, especially when multiple jurisdictions are involved. Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 20:40
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    @R which is exactly why the situation should be expanded on Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 21:00
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    @user76290 Please be aware that while the US recognizes dual citizenship, Japan does not. Japanese law (国籍法) requires that you renounce any foreign citizenship, or your Japanese citizenship will become void. If you are a minor, you are except from this requirement until you are 22. If you newly acquired Japanese citizenship, you have 2 years in which to renounce your non-Japanese citizenships.
    – Dono
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 8:38
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    @PatriciaShanahan: I don't think it takes a lot of creativity to imagine crimes that one wouldn't post publicly here...
    – user541686
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 3:30

6 Answers 6


Hire a Texas lawyer and ask their opinion. You may be able to deal with the offences in absentia, or get the warrants revoked with an agreement to appear on a particular date.

Whether you can or not, a Texas lawyer is the only person who can give competent advice.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 18:41
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    Right. For much less than the cost of an air ticket / travel, the OP can have the issue resolved. Just pick up the phone and call one of a million Texas legal practices that fix this sort of thing.
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 17:06

are the two connected and if I were to enter the US again will I be stopped and arrested?

There is probably no way to know for certain. CBP has been experimenting with facial recognition technology; they might match the passport photos. They might have a data sharing agreement with Japan that would allow them to match your passports using other biographical data.

The most likely way for them to connect you to the warrant is that when you apply to enter the US on the VWP, you will have to give your fingerprints. I suspect very strongly that they check those prints against the NCIC.

While you won't be penalized for violating 8 USC 1185(b), because there is no penalty, you could well be prosecuted for violating 18 USC 1001 if you lie on your ESTA application by failing to disclose your US citizenship. Of course, if you do disclose it, you increase the chance of being connected to your US passport, not to mention the chance of having the ESTA denied.

This of course assumes that your warrant has been entered into the NCIC database. If it hasn't been, then you could enter with your US passport without trouble, just as you would not have trouble if you were stopped by police in another state.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 18:42
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    In these days of anti-terror data sharing between intelligence agencies I would expect that this exact exercise of linking passports for a single individual is already in place. Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 16:10

You may get away with it but you will be getting in more legal troubles in the process. All US citizens must enter on a US ID. Don’t complicate your life even more.

It is illegal for a US citizen to enter US on another country’s passport even if dual national.

I would talk to a Lawyer yesterday but still enter on my US passport.

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    Hire a lawyer and deal with the charges. While the legal process is grinding away, the warrants can be revoked, probably. Getting caught with a active warrant is far worse then properly engaging the legal system.
    – DTRT
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 14:18
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    @HankyPanky there is no penalty for unlawful entry of a US citizen. Whatever legal troubles user76290 may have, violating 8 USC 1185(b) will be among the least of them.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 14:18
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    @phoog if they find out that you were trying to evade an arrest warrant by using another nationality then this may well add to their existing legal troubles even if there is no penalty for the act itself. I obviously don't know the legal technicalities but trying to evade arrest by hiding your identity may well be another real crime Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 14:42
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    @HankyPanky that is correct. There's a penalty for lying to federal officers, and it can be quite severe. I sincerely doubt that anyone lying on an ESTA form would be prosecuted for this if the reason is benign, such as a lost or expired passport and an urgent need to travel to the US, but the chance of prosecution would be orders of magnitude higher for someone seeking to evade a warrant or do anything else illegal.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 14:53
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    I'm pretty sure the OP knows about the warrant, and is deliberately using the alternate passport to evade it. This is outright fraud. Very bad idea.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 16:10

I live in Texas and have studied both Texas and federal law for nearly 20 years, and have been very active in multiple courts -- state and federal civil and criminal. The assertion that a lawyer is the only person who can give competent advice is ridiculous and the kind of willful ignorance upon which the suited vultures prey.

The filing of charges in Texas tolls the statute of limitations, and the charges are filed when the traffic citation is processed by the court (typically within a few days from the issuance of the citation). On a Texas citation you sign a written promise to appear, typically within around 20 days (with a few days variance, depending on the issuing municipality). If you do not appear as promised, a second charge (in addition to the charge stemming from the original alleged transportation code violation) of failure to appear is filed. At this point there are 2 charges filed and the statute of limitations is frozen (never expires) for both.

99% of the time a lawyer can get traffic-related warrants recalled (squashed) merely by filing a notice of representation with the court. However, the accused can also get the warrants recalled by a couple of means. First, 90%+ of the time, Texas courts blatantly ignore the code of criminal procedure as to prerequisites for filing warrants. Not only is this a very useful tool to get the warrants recalled, it provides ground to have the issuing judge prosecuted for official oppression (see Texas Penal Code 1.07(a)(41) and 39.03(a)(2)) (although actual prosecution is rarely required -- the prospect of it is almost always enough to make the judge realize that if he doesn't recall the warrant he's likely to face severe political problems that could end his career). Also, in Texas warrants, the judge or magistrate commands any and all officers to "arrest this individual and bring him before me." So the warrant is satisfied and extinguished once the individual appears. Several times I have walked into Texas courts with pending warrants and informed the magistrate of who I am and the fact that the warrant is now satisfied. Every time they have set a trial date and required me to post bond to ensure my appearance at trial. Of course, the OP STILL has the initial problem of getting back into the US to get to the court.

  • Finally, someone who knows the system! Getting back to the US shouldn't be a problem. First if he proves citizenship they must land him. Even a noncitizen who shows up saying "My business is to appear in court to answer misdemeanor charges, I am in contact with the court and on the docket for <date>" shouldn't have any trouble (unless there's other trouble.) Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 16:02
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    Finally, someone who knows the system! And has named themselves John Doe. And answers on the Internet. And has been a member for exactly one day ( as of the time I am writing this comment ).....
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 19:03
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    So to summarize your answer, the suggestion that the OP should talk to a lawyer is ridiculous, and in order to get his problem resolved he needs a lawyer. Did I get that right?
    – Doc
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 4:18
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    "Several times I have walked into Texas courts with pending warrants", and not that I am a lawyer but "studied Texas and federal law for nearly 20 years". Aka, "I am a career criminal, listen to my sage advice"
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 13:56
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    This answer is... problematic for several reasons, but it could be improved by providing any sort of sources of the numbers & tendencies claimed.
    – user48037
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 16:31

The problem here is that you're trying to juggle too many balls.

To start with, you had the Texas traffic matter. You didn't resolve it, creating more balls. Now you're trying to reenter this country without arrest or disclosing your warrants - creating yet more balls to juggle. When you inevitably, inadvertently lie to immigration officials just to keep all the balls in motion -- How many more balls do you think you can juggle? It keeps getting exponentially more complicated.

You're only human. You will mess up, and the more you tangle it up, the more it'll come crashing down in a way you have absolutely no control over.

Pretty weird, considering that you're trying to keep control. This strategy is a dead-end.

I like control. In your shoes I'd grab the traffic matter by the longhorns and wrestle it to the ground. I don't like lawyers either, but a good one (not a TV scheister) can make all the difference in the world. I find the right lawyer by calling top-rated lawyers slightly off field and the conversation goes like this: "I need help with a _______ case. .... Oh, you don't do those? Who would you hire for that?" You'll keep getting the same name over and over.

You've made it worse by fleeing, and it'll cost you more, but pay the price and move on with your life.

You will then be able to enter the US. Generally, authorities are rather unlikely to arrest you if say forthrightly that you placed yourself on the court docket to answer a misdemeanor charge and are going there for that purpose.

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    Cough, cough, I don't think the Texas matter is 'traffic', reading the OP's account. I think it's more serious than that, like at least possession.
    – smci
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 23:48

See Hanky Panky's answer.

But also consider that if you are entering the US as a Japanese citizen as it seems you're consider, that such an entry will be on a Tourist Visa and you must leave the USA within 6 months or be forevermore on-file as an Illegal Immigrant, with few rights and subject to detaining and deportation back to Japan at any time.

You can bet that at your detention/deportation hearing, your little game will be discovered.

Unless of course you really plan to renounce your US citizenship and never return.

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