Hope for some Findream Cases

Findream LLC was a California company that was prosecuted for committing visa fraud in 2019.  Specifically, the owner of the company issued sponsorship documents to help F-1 foreign students to apply for employment authorization through the Optional Practical Training (OPT), STEM OPT, and also the H-1B professional work visa programs.  The owner of Findream was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud. 

Since then, many international students also had their status or visas cancelled on account of their involvement of Findream or Sinocontech LLC, a related company.  The most frequent occurrence was when they travel internationally, either leaving the U.S. or returning.  They would be questioned by the CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) officers at the airport about their previous OPT employment.  Typically, after extensive questioning a statement is prepared.  They would be asked to review the statement and sign it. Depending on the situation, they could be denied entry into the U.S. and/or have their visas cancelled by the officers. Sometimes, the officer would give them a warning that they would not be able to return to the U.S. again.

The problem can also surface when an F-1 student applies a visa from an American Consulate, their visa application could be rejected because of their involvement with Findream or similar illegitimate companies.  In some cases, even after their visas have been approved, students may receive a phone call from the Consulate informing them that the approval was revoked.  

Does that mean any involvement with Findream or similar companies would lead to visa denials and deportation?  Based on our firm's experience, the answer depends on the particular student's situation.  There is no blanket rule that every student who has been involved with Findream or other similar organizations will automatically be denied a visa or a green card.  

Within the U.S., before making a decision, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers would study the facts of the case, review the documents and evidence, interview the student, and also give the student a fair opportunity to explain his situation. For example, if a student's involvement with such organizations was short and unintentional, and she took actions to remedy the situation as soon as possible (e.g., by looking for other employment), there is a chance that her adjustment or other status application will be approved.  On the other hand, if a student relies on the same questionable organization for employment sponsorship for a long period of time, and for different programs (OPT, STEM OPT, H-1B), it would be extremely difficult to argue that the student's involvement was unintentional. 

Many F-1 students stumbled into Findream and other fraudulent organizations out of desperation or ignorance. As newcomers to the United States, their OPT employment is often their first job here.  It is understandable how they may fall prey to certain unscrupulous employers. The important thing is to try to take actions to correct their mistakes as soon as possible. The immigration officers have some discretionary power to overlook certain violations, but the applicant must demonstrate through their actions and candor that they deserve such a break. 

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 


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