LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury has indicted two men in a scheme to obtain lawful permanent resident status for South Korean nationals by submitting fraudulent visa applications that falsely claimed American businesses wanted to hire skilled foreign workers.
The indictment alleges that the defendants exploited the EB-2(a) visa program by submitting bogus alien worker petitions on behalf of companies – some legitimate, some created specifically for the scheme – that purportedly wanted to hire foreign nationals after exhausting attempts to find suitable workers in the United States.
This caser is being investigated by the Los Angeles Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and including U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Fraud Detection National Security Unit.
According to court documents, the South Korean nationals simply wanted to immigrate to the United States, so they paid between $30,000 and $70,000 to the defendants in the hopes of obtaining a visa.
The indictment charges the two defendants with conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The defendants are:
Weon Keuk Lee, 49, a South Korean national and licensed California attorney who previously operated an immigration law firm in Los Angeles; and Young Shin Kim, 59, a naturalized U.S. citizen, who previously operated an accounting firm in Diamond Bar and is now a farmer in Hesperia.
Kim was arrested by HSI and DSS special agents October 3 in Hesperia, pursuant to a criminal complaint. During a court hearing the next day, he was ordered released on a $50,000 bond and was ordered to appear for an arraignment November 8. Lee, 50, is believed to be currently residing in Vietnam.
According to the indictment, between 2007 and 2015, Lee and Kim filed approximately 117 fraudulent alien worker petitions with USCIS, resulting in the agency issuing more than 125 visas for the aliens, their spouses and their children. Lee accepted payment from the South Korean nationals, who sought to obtain EB-2(a) visas that would allow them to live and work in the United States.
Kim allegedly identified U.S. businesses to act as the purported petitioner for the beneficiary, either by misappropriating information from his accounting firm’s clients or by forming shell corporations solely for the purpose of petitioning authorities for visas. He also fabricated documents – including bogus tax returns – for the domestic companies and Lee used those documents to submit the fraudulent alien worker petitions. Lee paid Kim nearly $300,000 for preparing the fraudulent documents used with the visa applications.
The charge of conspiracy to commit visa fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.