Indictments in Alleged P3 Visa Fraud Scheme

Wendy Barlow's picture

On February 9, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced criminal indictments in a complex visa fraud scheme involving the P3 nonimmigrant visa category [PDF version]. You may also see the press release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York [PDF version].

On February 8, 2018, a 15-count indictment was unsealed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against three individuals — Stella Boyadjian, Hrachya Atoyan, and Diana Grigoryan (aka “Dina Akopovna”) for their roles in a multi-year visa fraud scheme involving the P3 visa program. The purpose of their visa fraud scheme was to bring Armenian citizens into the United States for profit. The 15-counts against the defends included “multiple counts of visa fraud and with conspiring to defraud the United States, commit visa fraud and illegally bring aliens into the United States.” Boyadjian and Grigoryan also face money laundering charges that are related to the visa fraud scheme. Boyadijian was also charged with identity theft.

The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard P. Donoghue, described the allegations in the indictment. Donoghue stated that the defendants were alleged in the indictment to have abused the P3 nonimmigrant visa program “by dressing visa applicants in traditional dance costumes and creating fake concert flyers in order to deceive a government program that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter the United States as artistic performers…” The press release specified that the defendants are alleged to have fraudulently claimed that the foreign nationals they were trying to bring into the United States under the P3 visa program were members of traditional Armenian performance groups.

How did this alleged visa fraud scheme work? The indictment states that Boyadijan ran a non-profit organization based in Rego Park, New York. This non-profit organization was allegedly used to further the visa fraud scheme by Boyadijan and her co-conspirators. The three defendants allegedly submitted false Form I-129 petitions and falsified supporting documents on behalf of applicants to establish their eligibility for P3 nonimmigrant status. The three defendants charged alien applicants fees ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 each to participate in the scheme. After the Form I-129 petitions were approved, the defendants and co-conspirators “acquired fraudulent dance certificates and organized staged photo sessions where foreign nationals wore Armenian dance costumes to make it appear as though they were traditional Armenian musicians, singers[,] and performers.” The defendants then trained the foreign nationals to falsely answer questions in P3 visa interviews and presented the staged photos as evidence in support of their applications. Foreign nationals in the United States in P3 status required to pay additional fees to the defendants in order to be sponsored for extensions of stay. The defendants created “flyers and other documents purporting to hold BAMA-sponsored concerts and events in the United States.”

The press releases mad clear that the indictment includes only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.

You may read the indictment of Stella Boyadjian here: [PDF version].

The indictment alleges severe abuses of the U.S. immigration laws. The Acting Assistant Attorney General of the United States Justice Department's Criminal Division, Christian J. Schurman, stated that “[f]raudsters who undermine our immigration system threaten our public safety and our national security…” Furthermore, fraud such as what was alleged in the indictment is an affront to those who follow the rules of visa application process.

Those who are interested in learning about the rules of the P3 visa program and how it is supposed to work may see our full article to learn more about the subject [see article].

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Indictments in Alleged P3 Visa Fraud Scheme