Chinese Student Sentenced for Fraudulently Obtaining a Student Visa

BOSTON – A Chinese national pleaded guilty and was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for defrauding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its administration of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

Xiaomeng Cheng, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper sentenced Cheng to time-served and ordered Cheng to be immediately removed from the United States to the People’s Republic of China.

In March 2016, Cheng registered to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam, which is an exam required by American universities that participate in DHS’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. On prior occasions, Cheng had failed to achieve a high enough score on the TOEFL exam to be admitted to one of the participating universities. When Cheng registered to take the exam again in March 2016, she provided her passport and exam registration information to a co-conspirator who used the materials to take the exam for Cheng. The co-conspirator scored high on the exam, and Cheng fraudulently submitted the co-conspirator’s test results as her own and was subsequently admitted into a university in the United States.  Once admitted, Cheng was issued DHS’s Form I-20, which made her eligible to receive an F-1 non-immigrant student visa to enter and remain in the United States for the duration of her studies.