New DHS Public Charge Rule

On August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule governing the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, found at section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Unless litigation halts implementation of the rule, it will go into effect after 60 days, on October 15, 2019. Here is a summary provided by the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA).

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Findream LLC Operator Indicted for OPT-Related Scam

The below July 26, 2019, press release is from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Huang Weiyun has been indicted on allegations that, among other things, she sold letters falsely verifying that F-1 students were eligible for optional practical training (OPT) based on employment with her company, Findream LLC.

CHICAGO — A Chinese businesswoman was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on fraud charges for allegedly providing false verifications of employment for Chinese nationals seeking to stay in the United States on student and work visas.

This indictment was announced by the following agency heads: U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., Northern District of Illinois; Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet, FBI Chicago. 

Weiyun Huang, also known as “Kelly Huang,” 30, of Beijing, China, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and five counts of visa fraud, according to an indictment returned July 25 in U.S. District Court in Chicago. 

Huang has been in federal custody since March after her arrest in the Northern District of California.  Her arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.

An F-1 visa permits a foreign national to study in the United States at a university or other academic institution.  An F-1 visa holder could extend the visa by participating in a program that required the student to obtain temporary employment in their area of study. 

An H-1B visa permits U.S.-based employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations.  Foreign nationals with an H-1B visa are permitted to stay in the U.S. for three years, with the possibility of extending their stay to six years.

According to the indictment, Huang founded two companies — Findream LLC and Sinocontech LLC — for the purpose of employing foreign nationals in the United States. 

Huang advertised Findream as a “startup company in technology services and consulting,” with clients in China and the U.S. 

Huang used a China-based website, “Chinese Looking for Job,” and a China-based WeChat platform, “Job Hunters of North America,” to advertise Findream and Sinocontech to F-1 visa holders in the U.S. seeking employment and H-1B visas.

In reality, the companies did not deliver any technology or consulting services, nor did they employ any of the individuals who responded to the ads, the indictment states.  In exchange for a fee, Huang and the companies provided written proof of employment to their customers, knowing that the companies did not actually employ them, the charges allege. 

Huang, Findream and Sinocontech also provided false offer letters and verification of employment letters as purported evidence of employment, knowing the forms were bogus, the indictment states.

The fraud scheme allowed at least 2,685 customers to list Findream or Sinocontech as their employer to stay in the U.S. on the visas, according to the indictment.  Huang and her two companies received at least $2 million from customers for whom they agreed to falsely certify employment, the indictment states.

Findream and Sinocontech, which were incorporated in California and Delaware, respectively, are also charged in the indictment. 

Findream is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and four counts of visa fraud; Sinocontech is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and one count of visa fraud.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Each count of visa fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, while the conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted this case.

Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment

What do you need to do to preserve your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR)? If you are abroad for 6 months or more per year, you risk “abandoning” your green card. This is especially true after multiple prolonged absences or after a prior warning by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport. Continue reading “Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment”

U.S.-China Dual Nationals

Looking for U.S.-China dual nationals who have recently flown China > Bangkok on a PRC passport and then transferred to a Bangkok > U.S. flight on a U.S. passport. Contact me if willing to discuss briefly, confidentially.

Students and Exchange Visitors Face Harsh New “Unlawful Presence” Rule from Trump Administration

May 3, 2019 Update: The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina today issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that temporarily prevents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) August 8, 2018 policy memo that sought to change how days of unlawful presence are counted following a violation of F, M, or J nonimmigrant status. The preliminary injunction temporarily halts enforcement of the 2018 policy while the underlying case, Guilford College v. McAleenan, is resolved.

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The Proposed Changes to Public Charge: What You Need to Know

Over the weekend, the Trump administration took steps to radically transform a little-known provision of immigration law that could have an outsized impact on legal immigration. In proposed regulations posted on Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicated that it would redefine the legal term “public charge” to block green cards for low-income immigrants who receive non-cash public benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps. Continue reading “The Proposed Changes to Public Charge: What You Need to Know”

Trump’s Proposed “Public Charge” Rule Intensifies War on Legal Immigrants

On September 22, 2018, the Trump administration announced the upcoming publication of a proposed rule that if implemented as written, would prevent immigrants from securing lawful permanent residence and remaining with their families in the United States, simply because at any time in the past, they received some type of basic health care support, nutrition assistance, or other vital services. Continue reading “Trump’s Proposed “Public Charge” Rule Intensifies War on Legal Immigrants”

Congressional Report Raises Concerns: Could Chinese Students and Scholars Association Members Be Denied Green Cards?

A new Congressional report asserts that Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) at U.S. colleges appear to be directly subordinate to and receive political direction from the Chinese Embassy and consulates. This report raises concerns: could the U.S. government deny green cards to CSSA members?

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Can I Visit the U.S. While Waiting for My Immigrant Visa?

Here’s a question I’m often asked:

I am married to a U.S. citizen. He has started the process for me to get a green card by filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Once it’s approved by USCIS, I will apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in my home country. Can I visit America while I’m waiting to immigrate? I currently have a valid B1/B2 (visitor for business or pleasure) visa.

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Guide to Reentry Permits

If you are a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR), there are at least three situations where applying for a reentry permit may be beneficial: (a) if you will be abroad for one year or more; (b) if you will be abroad for more than six months for two consecutive years; and (c) if you have been warned by U.S. Customs and Border Inspection (CBP) officer that you are at risk of abandoning your permanent resident status. Continue reading “Guide to Reentry Permits”