On November 4, a California man pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge to commit marriage fraud for his role in running a scheme in which citizens of China paid up to $60,000 to enter into fake marriages to obtain green cards (i.e. Legal Permanent Resident status). The case is a reminder that continued vigilance is necessary to deter the ever-present temptation to commit immigration fraud via sham marriages.
The head of the entire operation was Chang Yu “Andy” He (of Monterey Park, California), the owner of Fair Price Immigration Service. According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, between January 2018 and November 2019, He recruited U.S. citizens to enter into fraudulent marriages with citizens of mainland China. “Specifically,” the DOJ stated, “He planned to arrange fraudulent marriages for three pairs of Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens to obtain green cards. The U.S. citizens in these situations were actually undercover agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).” He, along with several other individuals, was eventually arrested in March 2020.
According to the plea agreement and court documents, He coached his clients how to lie to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during interviews. The individual also advised both the Chinese nationals and HSI agents posing as American citizen clients to establish joint paper trails, bank accounts, and leases, instructing them to also to “keep clothes in the apartments where the couples supposedly lived together, and visit the apartment several days a week so the neighbors would see them together.” He now faces up to five years in federal prison and will be sentenced in February.
It is understandable that foreign nationals will go to great extents to gain access to the “golden ticket” that is life in the U.S., or another prosperous Western nation. Many do so legally and ethnically. Unfortunately, some attempt to game the system, including through marriage fraud. As Immigration and Customs Enforcement points out, it is “not a victimless, innocent crime,” but rather “a serious crime that weakens our nation’s security and makes us less safe.” That’s because “participants in marriage fraud may, knowingly or unknowingly, be aiding terrorists, foreign intelligence or other criminal organizations.”