|Law Offices of Janet J. Greathouse
Immigration and Nationality Law
|Visa Fraud at Consulate Posts
Recently, allegations of visa fraud at two consulate posts have led to formal charges against consulate employees and a Foreign Service officer. In one case, the Department of Justice announced that three complaints were filed in a federal district court in Laredo, Texas charging three employees of the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico with conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The arrests, made by agents of the Diplomatic Security Service of the State Department, were the result of an investigation which began seven months ago. The investigation, which also led to the temporary closure of the Nuevo Laredo consulate post, continues.
According to the complaints, the investigation was prompted by allegations that Consulate workers were involved in a scheme to provide visas and border crossing cards in exchange for money. Individuals were allegedly able to buy visas without interviews and without a determination of eligibility. According to the Justice Department, some of the participants allegedly admitted their involvement in the scheme. The investigation is being conducted by the Diplomatic Security Service and the INS.
In an unrelated case, the State Department announced that Alexander Meerovich, a Foreign Service officer, pled guilty to one count of visa fraud. In the federal district court in the District of Columbia, Mr. Meerovich was charged and pled guilty to issuing visas illegally while serving as a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Prague from August 1999 to July 2002. Mr. Meerovich faces a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The charge was brought after an investigation conducted by the Diplomatic Security Service with assistance from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Prague, the Justice Department and the Czech police. Criminal investigations involving Mr. Meerovich are continuing. The State Department expressed deep regrets for Mr. Meerovich's illegal activities, emphasizing that the State Department has zero tolerance for visa fraud. According to the State Department, "We will continue to investigate all allegations of visa fraud vigorously and seek to prosecute and punish those people engaged in visa fraud to the fullest extent of the law."
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