School Official Admits Visa Fraud
Irina Tkhir, 43, of Langhorne, PA, pleaded guilty today to four counts of visa fraud in connection with a fraud scheme involving foreign students allegedly enrolled in classes at the CMG Computer Center, 371 East Street Road, Trevose, Pennsylvania, where Tkhir served as the Primary Designated School Official. Tkhir was charged with and admitted to knowingly making false statements on Forms I-20, Certificates of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status--For Academic and Language Students. The individual students were required to pursue a full course of study at the CMG Computer Center. The fraud scheme involved collecting tuition payments from the students and not enforcing the requirement that the students pursue the full course of study.
The students involved in the scheme were enrolled as English as a Second Language (ESL) students. A non-immigrant who has entered the United States lawfully may remain in the United States indefinitely by providing proof of financial means to support him/herself and to pay for tuition as full-time students at an approved Primary Designated School. The schools are required to report to the Department of Homeland Security when a student is not maintaining attendance at weekly classes, is excessively absent, or has dropped the full course load of 18 hours per week. A surveillance at the school between September 2009 and September 2010 and a review of school records showed that Tkhir was maintaining computer records for approximately 250 students allegedly attending classes at the school when, in fact, far fewer students were actually in attendance.
A sentencing date is set for June 14, 2012. Tkhir faces an advisory sentencing guideline range of 10 to 16 months, a fine of up to $1 million, $400 special assessment.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony J. Wzorek.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525