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Document and Benefit Fraud

New York man pleads guilty to foreign student visa fraud scheme

NEWARK, N.J. – A New York man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a widespread foreign student visa fraud scheme that took place in Iselin and Jersey City. The guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Manamadurai Somalingam, 64, of Pelham, N.Y., pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit visa fraud and conspiring to conceal and harbor illegal aliens for private financial gain. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to court documents, Somalingam admitted that from March 2011 through May 2012, while he was the owner of a school called PC Tech Learning with campuses in Iselin and Jersey City, he conspired to obtain student visas for foreign citizens who were not eligible for the visas. Somalingam admitted that he falsely certified that a woman he hired to work for him at the Jersey City campus of PC Tech was eligible for a student visa even though he knew she would be working full-time and was not eligible.

Somalingam also admitted that he never terminated a foreign citizen’s student status as long as that individual paid his tuition fees, even though Somalingam, as the primary designated school official for PC Tech, was required to terminate any student who failed to make proper progress in his studies.

Somalingam is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 5.