New Jersey man convicted of US visa scheme for Chinese government employees

President Biden ended the DOJ’s 'China Initiative' program last month

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A New Jersey man has been convicted of fraudulently obtaining U.S. visas for employees of the Chinese government, the Justice Department announced this week. 

Zhongsan Liu, 59, of Fort Lee, helped fraudulently obtain J-1 research scholar visas for Chinese government employees, according to court documents and evidence present at trial. 

A Chinese Passport. 

A Chinese Passport.  (iStock)

The visas helped these employees unlawfully work in the United States for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) without notifying the U.S. government. 

Prosecutors said Liu ran his operation out of an office of the China Association for the International Exchange of Personnel (CAIEP) – a PRC government agency – in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The CAIEP also engaged in recruiting U.S. scientists, academics, engineers, and other experts to work in and for the benefit of the PRC, prosecutors said. 

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The J-1 research scholar program allows foreign nationals to come to the United States for the purpose of conducting research at a corporate research facility, museum, library, university, or other research institution. 

Department of Justice

Department of Justice (iStock)

Prosecutors said Liu helped multiple people obtain a J-1 research scholar visa under false pretenses, playing intermediary between them and universities while concealing the true nature of their presence in the U.S. 

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Liu is convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit visa fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. His sentencing is scheduled for July 11. 

Travellers walk at a terminal hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China March 23, 2022.

Travellers walk at a terminal hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China March 23, 2022. (REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)

The Biden administration said last month it would be ending the DOJ’s "China Initiative" program that was aimed at preventing spying by the Chinese Communist Party. 

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The China Initiative was started in 2018 under the Trump administration to protect U.S. national security against Chinese spying on U.S. intellectual property and in academic and research settings. 

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report