A federal grand jury in Dallas indicted Bilal Ahmed Khaleeq, a Dallas attorney, and Amma Cheema, his assistant, with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, said United States Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
If convicted, Khaleeq and Cheema could each face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Khaleeq, 47, and Cheema, 37, were released on bond after appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Horan.
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"Immigration attorneys risk severe consequences when they choose to illegally profit by breaking U.S. immigration laws rather than building a profession on following those laws," said Katrina W. Berger, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Dallas (HSI).
"HSI leads a Dallas-area Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, and partners daily with many local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws. HSI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate immigration fraud," she added. "Especially by immigration attorneys."
The following is the contents of the indictment:
In May 2015, Khaleeq intentionally solicited a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from India - referred to as 'Person A' - to marry Cheema, a Pakistani national, for the purpose of her obtaining lawful permanent residence.
In exchange for entering into a fraudulent marriage and proceeding through the permanent residence process, 'Person A' received a payment of $745.00 with promises of additional monies upon approval of the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status application (Form I-485). Cheema and Person A were married in Dallas County on June 15, 2015.
Khaleeq arranged the marriage, advised Cheema regarding the filing of the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) and represented the parties at the interview with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After Cheema and Person A had been married, Khaleeq advised the parties on the preparation of the I-130 petition and supporting documents needed to make the marriage appear legitimate, including but not limited to, joint bank accounts, tax returns, bills concerning their joint residence and other fraudulent evidence including photos. On July 10, 2015, the parties filed Forms I-130 and I-485 with USCIS.
The indictment further alleges, from January 26, 2016, through March 7, 2017, Khaleeq, Cheema and Person A had several discussions regarding the immigration process and the documentary evidence needed to represent Cheema and Person A as a bona fide married couple for the purposes of the immigration benefit. In addition, Khaleeq coached Person A how to address the questions that would be posed during the USCIS interview process. Among other advisals, Khaleeq specifically instructed Person A to tell the USCIS Adjudications Officer that he cohabitated with Cheema even though that was a false statement. Khaleeq also advised Person A to leave some articles of clothing in Cheema's residence to make it appear that he was residing there. Additionally, the parties discussed filing joint tax returns to provide additional evidence and discussed how long Person A and Cheema should remain married in order for her to obtain her lawful permanent residence.
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is investigating the case. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Javier is in charge of the prosecution.
This story will continue to be updated as more details are released.