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.