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Document and Benefit Fraud
04/09/2019

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Middlesex County, New Jersey, man admits attempting to obtain US citizenship by fraud

NEWARK, N.J. – An Iselin, New Jersey, man today admitted that he attempted to fraudulently obtain United States citizenship, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Pal Singh, a/k/a “Surinder Singh,” a/k/a “Harpal Singh,” 67, an Indian national, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas to an information charging him with one count of attempted naturalization fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In March 1992, Singh applied for admission into the United States as a tourist at Los Angeles International Airport by presenting an Indian passport that purported to contain an entry visa to the United States. Singh was refused admission because the entry visa was deemed fraudulent and he was detained pending exclusion proceedings. Singh thereafter applied for asylum in the United States in his true name, and he was released on bond while his asylum claim was evaluated. In June 1993, an immigration judge in New York denied Singh’s asylum application and Singh was ordered to surrender for deportation. Singh failed to appear for his deportation as ordered.

In August 1995, Singh fraudulently applied for asylum in the United States under the identity of “Harpal Singh,” and claimed that he had entered the United States by crossing the United States-Mexico border in December 1994. Singh did not disclose that he had previously been denied asylum under his true identity. In March 1996, an immigration judge denied Singh’s second asylum application and he was again ordered to surrender for deportation. Singh again failed to appear for his deportation.

In May 1996, Singh fraudulently applied for asylum in the United States under the identity of “Surinder Singh,” claiming that he had entered the United States by crossing the United States-Mexico border in November 1995. Singh did not disclose that he had previously been denied asylum under his true identity and under the identity of Harpal Singh. This application further claimed that Surinder Singh had been beaten and tortured in India in 1994 despite the fact that Singh had been living in the United States at the time under his true identity. In June 1996, the Immigration and Naturalization Service granted Singh’s third asylum application in the name of “Surinder Singh” based on fraudulent information provided by Singh.

In December 2015, Singh filed an Application for Naturalization, Form 400-N, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the identity of Surinder Singh. He falsely answered questions relating to his identity, his prior immigration applications, and his immigration status, among others. In May 2018, Singh appeared in the identity of Surinder Singh before an officer of the Department of Homeland Security in Newark for an interview, which was conducted under oath and video-recorded. Singh was also assisted by counsel and by a Punjabi interpreter. Singh falsely answered additional questions relating to his identity, his prior immigration applications, and his immigration status, among others.

A qualified fingerprint examiner from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Support Center has compared fingerprints taken of Singh when he initially attempted to enter the United States in March 1992 to fingerprints taken in the names of Harpal Singh and Surinder Singh in connection with the above-described immigration proceedings. The fingerprint examiner concluded that the same individual made all of the fingerprints.

The attempted naturalization fraud charge carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 5, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. In turn, HSI Newark credited the efforts of  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) National Benefits Center; the USCIS Newark District Office and the USCIS Newark Office of Fraud Detection and National Security for their considerable efforts in this case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Kearney of the U.S Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/10/2019