Chinese Businesswoman Sentenced To 37 Months In Federal Prison For Conspiracy To Commit Visa Fraud
CHICAGO — A Chinese businesswoman was sentenced today to 37 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
WEIYUN HUANG, also known as “Kelly Huang,” 30, of Beijing, China, provided false verifications of employment for foreign nationals seeking to stay in the United States on F-1 or H-1B visas. Huang previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. Durkin on Friday imposed the prison sentence in federal court in Chicago.
The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay.
An F-1 visa permitted 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 permitted U.S.-based employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations. Foreign nationals with an H-1B visa were permitted to stay in the U.S. for three years, with the possibility of extending their stay to six years.
Huang admitted in a plea agreement that she founded two companies – FINDREAM LLC and SINOCONTECH LLC – for the purported purpose of employing foreign nationals in the United States. Huang advertised fraudulent visa-related employment with Findream on websites. In reality, in exchange for a fee, Huang and the companies provided false offer letters and verification of employment letters as purported evidence of employment, knowing the customers did not work at Findream or Sinocontech. Huang also completed, signed, and certified immigration forms detailing the customers’ purported work at the companies. For customers who sought proof of payroll, the customer had to provide the payroll funds to Huang, and Huang then caused direct deposits, falsely purporting to be payroll payments, from Findream’s bank accounts to be deposited in the customers’ bank accounts, and issued Form 1099-MISC tax forms documenting the purported salary.
The fraud scheme allowed at least approximately 2,693 customers to list Findream or Sinocontech as their employer in order to stay in the U.S. on the visas, Huang further admitted in a plea agreement. Huang and her two companies received at least approximately $1.5 million from customers for whom they agreed to falsely certify employment.
“Immediately upon graduating from a United States-based university, defendant manufactured a scheme to defraud the United States for her own financial benefit and in direct violation of the United States immigration and criminal laws,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Defendant took her deep understanding of the United States visa system to exploit that system for her own benefit, while creating a significant risk to the United States.”
Findream, which was incorporated in California, and Sinocontech, which was incorporated in Delaware, also previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud.