Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Immigration Fraud’

6th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Justice, in association with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is taking measures to combat scams involving immigration services for those wishing to travel to the USA . To quote directly from a recent announcement posted upon the official website of the Department of Justice, Justice.gov:

Federal Agencies Combat Immigration Services Scams
DHS, DOJ and FTC Collaborate with State and Local Partners in Unprecedented Effort

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government will unveil a national initiative to combat immigration services scams on June 9 at 1 p.m. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are leading this historic effort.
DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the lead agency responsible for administering the U.S. legal immigration system, will announce the initiative while hosting events in seven cities around the country as well as the national launch in Washington, D.C.

The unauthorized practice of immigration law is an exploitative practice that endangers the integrity of our immigration system and victimizes members of the immigrant community. Understanding the gravity of this deceptive practice, federal, state and local partners have come together to combat immigration services scams on all fronts. The initiative is set upon three pillars: enforcement, education, and continued collaboration. Each agency plays a critical role to ensure the success of this national effort. This initiative exemplifies how government and community can work together to effectively address a serious problem…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more about the Justice Department’s recently announced initiative.

Unfortunately, there are many less-than-reputable organizations in jurisdictions such as those which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other locales around the world falsely purporting to have the necessary qualifications to provide advice, counsel, and assistance pertaining to United States visas and immigration.

Processing a United States visa can be a cumbersome and overwhelming process for those unfamiliar with relevant immigration law and procedure. Those thinking about retaining an American lawyer to assist in the acquisition of visas such as the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, K-1 visa, EB-5 visa, or L-1 visa (to name just a few visa categories) are encouraged to ascertain the credentials of those claiming knowledge of such matters. This is encouraged because only properly licensed attorneys are permitted to accept fees to engage in the practice of U.S. immigration law pursuant to 8 CFR 292.1.

In general, before a visa applicant can undergo Consular Processing at US Mission abroad (US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, etc) they must first receive an approved petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand or Legal.

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12th December 2010

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has created a new website in an effort to combat the unlicensed practice of United States Immigration law. The following is a direct quotation from the new website:

Only a licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist you with your immigration case or green card application. Unlike consultants, immigration lawyers have completed extensive education and training before being licensed to represent clients. You can check whether an immigration lawyer is in good standing and licensed by contacting your state bar or state Supreme Court. You can also check to see if the immigration lawyer has been suspended or expelled from practice before the immigration court, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), or the immigration service (USCIS).

For those who are unaware of the current problem in the United States and abroad, there are those who prey upon unsuspecting individuals claiming to have expertise in American immigration matters. In the State of New York, Attorney General Cuomo, now Governor-Elect, has taken measures to counter this problem. Specifically, the Attorney General’s office has pursued companies which may have engaged in crimes involving immigrants and the unlicensed practice of law. To quote directly from a page on the New York Attorney General’s Office website:

The Attorney General began an investigation and issued subpoenas to these companies after receiving information that they were engaged in fraudulent and illegal business practices. The illegal conduct included, among other things, misrepresenting their authorization to submit documents on behalf of immigrants to the government and giving legal advice to immigrants. Further, some of these companies involved attorneys who aided others in the unauthorized practice of the law and simply lent their name to provide legitimacy to the business. Collectively, these companies abused hundreds of immigrants.

In a previous posting on this web log it was noted that a man in the United States was stripped of his US Citizenship and charged with marriage fraud after an investigation by the United States Customs Enforcement Service (USICE). Clearly, it is evident that authorities in the US States and the Federal government are more serious about enforcing US immigration laws. Hopefully, the creation of the new website noted above, in combination with efforts by law enforcement agencies, will result in leass fraud perpetrated upon the United States government, the American immigrant community, and the public at large.

For related information please see: US visa fraud.

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25th June 2010

Marriage Fraud as well as Immigration Fraud are a serious issues in the eyes of those agencies tasked with the job of adjudicating visa petitions and enforcing American law with regard to admission to the United States. With that in mind, it should be noted that domestically the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE) has jurisdiction to enforce immigration regulations as well as decisions issued by Immigration courts. The following is a direct quote from a recently promulgated press release from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A U.S. citizen, who was paid to engage in a phony marriage with a Cambodian national to evade immigration laws, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court. The guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Justin Michael Martin, 25, of Georgetown, Ky., pleaded guilty June 22 in the Western District of Kentucky
to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and marriage fraud. Martin admitted that between Jan. 1, 2000 and April 7, 2010, he knowingly reached an agreement with Yota Em, Phearoun Peter Em, aka Sophea Lim, and Michael Chanthou Chin to knowingly enter into a marriage to evade U.S. immigration laws. Martin admitted that Phearoun Peter Em drove Martin to a U.S.
Post Office in Lexington to apply for a U.S. passport, and that Phearoun Peter Em paid the passport
application fee. On June 17, 2004, Michael Chanthou Chin drove Martin and others to the Louisville airport. In exchange for a fee, Martin, Phearoun Peter Em, and others traveled from Kentucky to Cambodia. Once in Cambodia, Martin met with Cambodian national Yota Em and agreed to marry her to evade the immigration laws of the United States.


Photographs were taken of Martin and Yota Em during an engagement ceremony on June 25, 2004, and at other locations in Cambodia. While in Cambodia, members of the conspiracy paid for Martin’s lodging, food, transportation, sexual services from a Cambodian female, and other expenses.
On June 27, 2004, Martin returned to the United States and was met at the airport by Michael Chanthou Chin. Thereafter, certain immigration forms were completed by Martin and Yota Em, which falsely represented the marriage as genuine. On Sept. 27, 2005, Yota Em entered the United States using a K-1 (fiancée) visa. On March 5, 2007, Yota Em and Martin participated in a civil marriage ceremony in Lexington, knowing that the marriage was not entered into in good faith, was in exchange for something of value, and that the purpose of the marriage ceremony was to enable Yota Em to obtain U.S. permanent resident status in the United States. Phearoun Peter Em and Michael Chanthou Chin served as witnesses at the civil marriage ceremony.


Martin and Yota Em subsequently participated in a marriage interview with immigration officials in Louisville and falsely claimed that they married in good faith. Phearoun Peter Em acted as an interpreter for Yota Em. On June 30, 2009, Martin and Yota Em were divorced. The marriage between Martin and Yota Em was fraudulent and was entered into solely to evade U.S. immigration laws. Martin admitted that he was paid about $7,000 for participating in the marriage fraud scheme.
Defendant Yota Em is currently a fugitive. Anyone with information about her whereabouts should call 1-866-DHS-2ICE. The maximum potential penalties for Martin are 10 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of six years.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Claire Phillips, Western District of Kentucky, is prosecuting the case. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.

It is unfortunate to see this type of fraud occurring as it makes it increasingly difficult for bona fide couples to receive immigration benefits due to the fact that the American government must expend resources in an effort to catch fraudulent visa petitions and applications. As time and resources are spent investigating visa fraud, the overall visa process for all applicants could slow down. That said, Officers of the United States government should be commended for their diligence in apprehending the individuals involved in the conspiracy noted above. Fraud Prevention is a serious issue that must be dealt with in order to forestall an erosion of the integrity of the US Immigration system.

In recent weeks it has been announced that fees associated with the K1 visa and the K3 Visa are increasing. There is speculation that the funds derived from the increase in fees will be used to combat immigration fraud on a wider scale as the fee is being increased by the Department of State for those applications filed at a US Consulate or US Embassy abroad. Many feel that the funds will likely be used to increase the resources available to each Fraud Prevention Unit attached to US Missions overseas. Hopefully, by increasing resources available to Fraud Prevention Units outside of the USA, there will be fewer people entering the United States illegally based upon sham relationships.

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