According to the Department of Justice on Thursday, an Indianapolis immigration attorney pleaded guilty to fraudulently filing over 250 fake US visa applications on behalf of his clients. Joe Paul, a 45-year-old immigration attorney from Fishers in Indiana, pled guilty to the Southern District of Indiana’s US District Judge, Jane E. Magnus-Stinson to charges of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and immigration document fraud.
In a statement, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions said that people who commit immigration fraud are undermining and abusing the generous US immigration system, which allows more immigrants to enter than any other nation in the world, and are risking both national security and public safety. Prosecutors alleged that Paul was responsible for a scheme to send fake applications for U-visas, reaping as much as $750,000 in false fees.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services say that U-visas offer temporary immigration benefits to immigrants who are victims of crime. In the plea agreement, Paul admitted to submitting over 250 false applications between 2013 and 2017, making false claims that his clients were crime victims and that he assisted in the investigations of law enforcement.
Prosecutors added that unauthorized copies of a certificate obtained in 2013 from the US Attorney’s Office were submitted by Paul and that his clients were charged $3000 per application. Sentencing is expected early next year. Sessions says fraud will not be tolerated at any level and that the Justice Department is committed to rooting out abuse and fraud in the US immigration system.