A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Ripple Effect of Findream on Foreign Students

On June 26, 2020, the owner of Findream LLC and Sinocontech LLC, Weiyun "Kelly" Huang, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud. These two companies provided bogus employment verification records for foreign students to extend their stay in the U.S. on F-1 and H-1B status. ICE reported that there were at least 2,686 international students involved in this matter.

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The sentencing of Kelly Huang is not the end of the story. It has created a ripple effect on all foreign nationals that have ever received an offer letter and/or employment verification document from Findream or Sinocontech for the purpose of bridging their OPT or STEM OPT unemployment period. 

These foreign nationals, many in F-1 or H-1B status, are also worried about whether any further actions will be taken by the DHS. As of now, there is no indication that DHS will be rounding up  these non-immigrant visa holders as they did in the UNNJ (University of North New Jersey) operation. Still, the Findream/Sinocontech issue has surfaced on a few different occasions, showing that it is not going away any time soon. 

The most common situation is the Request For Evidence (RFE). Foreign nationals who have a connection with these two sham companies have been cornered by RFEs during their change of status, H-1B extension/transfer, or even adjustment of status applications. These RFEs focus on the applicant's failure to maintain his/her status. Some of them even bring up the issue of misrepresentation. If an applicant has ever procured immigration benefits by misrepresentation, he/she is subject to a ground of admissibility. Their ability to enter the U.S. or apply for a Green Card will be impaired. Applicants in the U.S. may even be placed in removal proceedings.

There are also reports of Chinese students that were sponsored by Findream for OPT employment being stopped and removed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers upon their return from overseas travel. Some students or workers do not even make it to a U.S. airport, having been informed that their visa had been revoked before they could board the plane. 

There are different ways to deal with this issue depending on the individual situation and plans. If an international student or foreign worker has strong evidence to prove that he/she did not have the intention to defraud the government, he/she may try to contest any fraud charge. There is a waiver available to those who can establish that their deportation will result in extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen or legal resident spouse or parent. Some others may choose to depart the U.S. to avoid an adverse finding by DHS and accrual of unlawful presence. However, given the current pandemic situation and travel bans, it may not be easy for students to go back to their home country.

Before making any decisions, we suggest that international students and foreign workers first consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to explore their options.  One person's solution may not work for another. 

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