An Orange County, Calif. man has been charged with running a massive visa fraud scheme that involved taking exams for students from counties like Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar so they could maintain their lawful immigration status, authorities said Monday.
Eamon Daniel Higgins, 46, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., was charged with one count of conspiring to commit visa fraud.
Authorities alleged that Higgins and associates took college classes, exams and placement tests in exchange for money. He charged up to $1,500 to complete final examinations and other classroom work and $1,000 for English proficiency exams.
On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 16 foreign students linked to the probe, authorities said. Six were arrested for committing visa fraud and 10 were arrested on administrative immigration violations.
“Visa fraud poses a significant security vulnerability and undermines the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system,” Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary John Morton who oversees ICE said in a statement. “As this case shows, we will move aggressively to identify and prosecute those who engage in fraud and corrupt the immigration process for profit.”