New York: Fourteen people of Indian descent are among 19 charged with involvement in visa fraud through fake "green card" marriages or by falsely making claims of being crime victims, according to officials.
Federal prosecutor Gregory K Davis said on Thursday that the accused from eight states, "who sought to undermine the integrity of our nation's immigration system," have been charged in the federal court in Jackson, Mississippi.
The charges resulted from joint investigations by the Homeland Security Investigations, the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"The defendants allegedly circumvented the laws and submitted fraudulent documents that are critical to obtaining immigration status," said Davis, the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Mississippi.
The prosecutor's office said that a lawyer, Simpson Lloyd Goodman, submitted fake documents for some of the Indians charged with him to get "U-Visas," which are issued to crime victims who help investigations or prosecutions. Some of the false documents were crime reports allegedly prepared by Jackson police officer Ivory Lee Harris, who has also been charged.
Of the 11 charged in the fake crime victim visa case, nine had Indian names and could include those with US citizenship.
Eleven people were charged with offences relating to sham "green card" marriages with US citizens. Of them, seven had Indian names.
"These marriages were not entered into because of mutual love and affection between the parties, but solely to create a legal status that would provide a basis for immigration status for the alien partner and usually for some economic benefit to the United States citizen," the prosecutor's office said.
Lawyer Goodman, Sachin Girishkumar Patel, 33, of Mississippi, and Tarunkumar Purushottambhai Patel, 49, of Missouri, face charges involving phony marriages as well as fake crime victim visa applications. Five Indians and three others face charges relating only to sham marriages.