Federal Grand Jury in Chicago Indicts Chinese Businesswoman on Charges of Visa Fraud
CHICAGO — A Chinese businesswoman has been indicted in Chicago on federal fraud charges for allegedly providing false verifications of employment for Chinese nationals seeking to stay in the United States on F-1 or H-1B visas.
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 Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Huang has been in federal custody since March after her arrest in the Northern District of California. Arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the 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.
According to the indictment, Huang founded two companies – FINDREAM LLC and SINOCONTECH LLC – for the purported 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 advertisements, 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 approximately 2,685 customers to list Findream or Sinocontech as their employer in order to stay in the U.S. on the visas, according to the indictment. Huang and her two companies received at least approximately $2 million from customers for whom they agreed to falsely certify employment, the indictment states.
Findream, which was incorporated in California, and Sinocontech, which was incorporated in Delaware, are also charged in the indictment. Findream is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and four counts of visa fraud, while 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 ten years in prison, while the conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years.