ERIE, Pa. — An Erie, Pennsylvania man, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie, on charges of use of a false visa, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Pittsburg and U.S. Border Patrol.
Daniel Cabanillas, 47, is the sole defendant, named in a two-count indictment.
According to the indictment presented to the court, Cabanillas was the Designated School Official (DSO) for the Student Exchange Visitor Program at Mercyhurst University until he was terminated on Feb. 19, 2015. The indictment alleges during the period he was employed as the DSO, Cabanillas did knowingly make materially false statements on Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - for Academic and Language Students, subscribing to as true, the false certification of a person’s acceptance status at the university.
Cabanillas faces a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both, under the federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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.