PHILADELPHIA — On Wednesday, the last of six Chinese students, voluntarily self-deported, after being sentenced Feb. 21 to one year probation and stipulated removal following a visa fraud investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia with assistance from the Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security Services (DSS) Philadelphia.
Ying Huang, 23, a Chinese citizen, pleaded guilty Jan. 11 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to one count of passport fraud, one count of mail fraud, and aiding and abetting.
In March 2015, the HSI Philadelphia Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) and DSS began investigating a group of Chinese nationals who were using counterfeit Chinese passports in furtherance of a passport and visa fraud scheme. HSI Philadelphia targeted a number of Chinese students who hired impersonators to take their college entrance exams through a facilitator located in China. The facilitator then hires the impersonator and supplies them with a fraudulent Chinese passport containing the biographical information of the student, as well as the student's actual passport number. The impersonator then uses the fraudulent passport to take a college entrance exam in place of the actual student. The fraudulent test results are then utilized to apply for entrance to academic programs and/or for F-1 student visas.
The other Chinese students involved in the scheme pleaded guilty separately to passport fraud, mail fraud, and aiding and abetting. They were sentenced to two years of probation and a $200 special assessment and subsequently removed from the United States. As part of the plea agreement, all of the defendants have agreed to a stipulated removal order by the U.S. district court judge in exchange for an immediate removal. They also paid all of the costs associated with their voluntary removal.
- Leuk Kwan Chau, 20, self-deported.
- Weiqian Xu, 21, self-deported.
- Ping Yang, 21, self-deported.
- Simo Li, 23, self-deported.
- Chenyi Cao, 24, self-deported.
Yixiao Hu remains a fugitive in this case, as he was in China at the time of the indictment and has not made an attempt to re-enter the United States.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) monitors the more than one million international students pursuing academic or vocational studies (F and M visa holders) in the United States and their dependents. It also certifies the schools and programs that enroll these students. The U.S. Department of State monitors exchange visitors (J visa holders) and their dependents, and oversees exchange visitor programs.
Both SEVP and the Department of State use SEVIS to protect national security by ensuring that students, visitors and schools comply with U.S. laws. SEVP also collects and shares SEVIS information with government partners, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, so only legitimate international students and exchange visitors gain entry into the United States.
HSI reviews SEVIS records for potential violations and refers cases with possible national security risks or public safety concerns to its field offices for further investigation. Additionally, SEVP’s Analysis and Operations Center reviews student and school records for administrative compliance with federal regulations related to studying in the United States.