Seven years sitting in as F-1 students in 10 different schools?

Anna Gorman and My-Thuan Tran in LAT writes about Eamonn Daniel Higgins charged with leading a student visa fraud operation in California. Higgins was allegedly hired by foreigners on student visas to attend classes, write papers and take exams for them (see Man charged with leading student visa fraud operation | March 8): Excerpt below:

Eamonn Daniel Higgins spent seven years in college.

Between 2002 and 2009, he attended 10 different schools in Southern California, including Cal State L.A., Irvine Valley College and Santa Monica College, according to federal prosecutors. During that time, he studied sociology, marketing, English, business and math.

But Higgins was not a student and wasn’t registered in any of the classes, authorities said. Rather, dozens of foreign students — all from the Middle East — were paying him to sit in class, take exams and write papers so that their student visas would remain valid, according to a charging document filed in the case. Students paid up to $1,500 for course assignments and finals and about $1,000 for English and writing proficiency exams, prosecutors allege.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents said the demand for Higgins’ services was so great that he hired staff, including a blond woman who they believe posed as an Middle Eastern man.

Higgins, 46, a U.S. citizen who lives in Laguna Niguel, surrendered to authorities Monday and pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. He is free on $5,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in federal prison.
Authorities believe Higgins earned hundreds of thousands of dollars helping about 120 people from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar maintain their student visa status.

The agency plans to contact the campuses to make sure they are aware of the alleged fraud. The other campuses include: Saddleback College, Coastline Community College, Golden West College, Orange Coast College, El Camino College, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Read the whole thing here.

Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty, Must Pay Criminal Fine of $400 Million

The DOJ announced on March 1, 2010 the guilty plea of defense contractor, BAE Systems
WASHINGTON—BAE Systems plc (BAES) pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding its lawful functions, to make false statements about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program, and to violate the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), announced Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler. BAES was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates to pay a $400 million criminal fine, one of the largest criminal fines in the history of DOJ’s ongoing effort to combat overseas corruption in international business and enforce U.S. export control laws.
BAES is a multinational defense contractor with headquarters in the United Kingdom and with a U.S. subsidiary—BAE Systems Inc.—headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. None of the criminal conduct described in the plea involved the actions of BAE Systems Inc.
The FCPA makes it illegal for certain businesses and individuals, or anyone taking action within U.S. territorial jurisdiction, corruptly to make payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. In addition, the FCPA prohibits corruptly making payments to a third party, while knowing that all or a portion of the payments will go directly or indirectly to a foreign government official for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Despite BAES’s representations to the U.S. government to the contrary, BAES knowingly and willfully failed to create sufficient compliance mechanisms to prevent and detect violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.
Read the whole thing here.

Quickie: Startup Visa in the Senate

Erick Schonfeld of TechCruch reported on Feb 24, 2010 about a new bill introduced in the Senate by Democrat John Kerry and Republican Richard Lugar proposing a new type of visa for immigrants who create startups jobs in the U.S.   
Quick excerpt: The Startup Visa has been controversial and will no doubt draw fire from anti-immigrant forces and xenophobes. But if we are going to be giving away visas, giving them to people who will help build the U.S. economy and create jobs is hard to argue against.
The Startup Visa Act of 2010 would create a two year visa for immigrant entrepreneurs who are able to raise a minimum of $250,000, with $100,000 coming from a qualified U.S. angel or venture investor. After two years, if the immigrant entrepreneur is able to create five or more jobs (not including their children or spouse), attract an additional $1 million in investment, or produce $1 million in revenues, he or she will become a legal resident.
The bill would carve out a new “EB-6″ class of visas from the existing “EB-5″ class of visas which has a higher threshold for becoming a legal resident. So it’s not really that radical. The EB-5 requires immigrants to invest at least $1 million in the U.S. and employ ten people.
Read the whole thing here. Check out the Startup Visa website here.