3 Lawyers and 2 Interpreters Convicted in Asylum Fraud Scam

On 6/25/09, after a complex three-month trial in federal court in Sacamento, a jury agreed that a massive fraud had been uncovered. All five defendants were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the government by filing false asylum claims, as well as numerous other charges.The case involved a law firm with offices in Sacramento and San Francisco that was run by brothers Jagprit Singh Sekhon, 39, and Jagdip Singh Sekhon, 42. A third attorney who worked with them, Manjit Kaur Rai, 33, and two interpreters also were charged.

The government said the five were involved in fraudulent activity from 2000 through 2004 that may have resulted in somewhere between 400 and 1,000 asylum seekers being allowed to remain in the United States after producing evidence that they would be harmed if returned to their native land.

The government contended that the defendants coached asylum seekers on how to answer questions and gave them phony stories to memorize for immigration officials, even though they were under oath.

Meanwhile, immigration authorities must decide whether to review the cases of hundreds of immigrants who were granted asylum through the scheme.

USCIS Releases Notice to Pending I-360 Applicants Re Adjustment and EAD Filings

Pursuant to the order of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington dated 6/11/09, USCIS is required to accept as properly filed adjustment of status applications (Form I-485) and employment authorization applications (Form I-765) from individuals who are beneficiaries of petitions for special immigrant visas (Form I-360), whether submitted concurrently with or subsequent to the visa petition, provided the applications meet USCIS' valid filing requirements.

USCIS Announces Changes in Biometric Procedures for Adjustment Applicants

USCIS announces that effective today it will begin consolidating biometric collection when employment-based adjustment of status application and employment authorization requests are filed at the same time at one of the Service Centers. Applicants who concurrently file Form I-485 based upon the approval of an employment-based petition and Form I-765 will receive one biometrics appointment letter to appear at designated Application Support Center instead of two notices.

Backlog in Naturalization Applications Will Take Nearly Three Years to Clear

Agency officials today say it will take almost three years for USCIS to clear the naturalization backlog due to a surge in applications last summer. It is estimated that the agency received 737,223 applications — three-and-a-half times the number of applications (207,536) received during the same period a year earlier. As of October 2007, USCIS had almost 1 million naturalization applications pending approval. The surge caused the processing time to more than double — now standing at 16 to 18 months for applications filed during the summer of 2007, compared to the six-to-seven-month timeframe for applications filed in 2006.