“Administrative Processing”: a Black Hole for Visa Applicants

For the uninitiated, “administrative processing” is State Department-speak for a temporary visa refusal pending further investigation of a visa application. (9 FAM Appendix E, 404). The applicant typically learns of the temporary refusal when, at the conclusion of the interview, the consular officer issues a written notice stating that under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act no visa can be issued until additional administrative processing has been completed.

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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, which is based in large part on information 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.

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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More Chinese Student Visa Applicants Will Be Subject to Security-Related Delays

A State Department official has spoken on background to the Associated Press, saying that more Chinese applying for F-1 visas as graduate students in fields related to science and technology will need “special clearance from multiple U.S. agencies” and that such clearances are “expected to take months for each visa application.” Other nonimmigrant visa applicants seeking to visit or work in the U.S. who have backgrounds in science or technology may be subject to the same security checks. Continue reading “More Chinese Student Visa Applicants Will Be Subject to Security-Related Delays”

National Vetting Center Established by Trump Administration

A new National Vetting Center is being established pursuant to National Security Presidential Memorandum 9, signed by President Trump on February 6. The Center will coordinate the way agencies use biographic, biometric, and other data used to vet applicants for visas, admission to the United States, and immigration benefits, and in enforcement and removal (deportation) actions. The Center will be housed within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Continue reading “National Vetting Center Established by Trump Administration”

Client Alert: State Dep’t Begins Stricter Vetting of Visa Applicants

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent four cables to consular officers between Mar. 10 and 17 with preliminary instructions for stricter vetting of U.S. visa applicants. The cables emphasize that “all visa decisions are national security decisions” and that additional screening may “may cause interview appointment backlogs to rise.” Continue reading “Client Alert: State Dep’t Begins Stricter Vetting of Visa Applicants”

President Trump Signs Revised Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry”

President Trump has signed a revised Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” It goes into effect March 16. The ban fails to address the original version’s flaws and its thinly veiled scapegoating of Muslims and refugees. Continue reading “President Trump Signs Revised Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry””

Trump’s Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals”: Latest News and Summary

The Latest

Enforcement and interpretation of President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” are evolving rapidly, so check back here for updates.

2017-02-16: The Trump administration plans to unveil a revised EO on immigration next week and rescind the president’s initial travel ban, which has been entrenched in legal battles throughout the country, as reported in The Hill. President Trump said during a news conference on Thursday that he would unveil a more tailored travel ban “next week sometime.” The U.S. Department of Justice similarly informed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in the Washington v. Trump litigation: “Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns.”

2017-02-09:  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied the government’s motion for stay of the district court’s temporary restraining order (TRO). Translation: The TRO suspending implementation of the EO remains in place. The government may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading “Trump’s Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals”: Latest News and Summary”

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude: Judge Posner’s Blistering Concurrence in Arias v. Lynch (7th Cir. 2016)

posnerJudge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is perhaps the most-cited legal scholar of the twentieth century. His reputations for brilliance and for rudeness are both on display in his concurring opinion in Arias v. Lynch (7th Cir. 2016). Continue reading “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude: Judge Posner’s Blistering Concurrence in Arias v. Lynch (7th Cir. 2016)”