Courtesy of Teresa Watanabe of the LA Times:
According to immigration official Rand L. Gallagher, the visit confirmed his suspicions that the Chinese national in question had filed a fraudulent application for a business visa. The visa petition claimed the El Monte office housed employees who were going to start a U.S. subsidiary of an import-export parent company in China.
But “Suite 105” turned out to be a tiny side room inside the leasing office, with no workers and no evidence of a business operation.
Increased site visits like the recent trip to El Monte are a key tool in the federal government’s newly aggressive fight against immigration fraud. The visits are to expand to as many as 25,000 this fiscal year from 5,000 last year, according to Alejandro N. Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In the last six years, the number of anti-fraud officers nationwide has grown from 100 to 600. Offices have been established in Mexico and Germany, with others being considered for the Philippines, China, India and South Korea.
The number of fraud leads investigated has jumped from 2,620 in 2005 to 31,827 last year.
And the fraud office’s budget has swelled to $95 million in fiscal year 2009, up from about $20 million five years earlier. To help fund the operations, Congress approved a $500 “fraud fee” on certain business visa applications, raising millions of dollars a year for investigators in the Homeland Security, Labor and State departments.