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R1 Religious Visa – Tax preparer sentenced to more than 5 years in federal prison for R visa and tax fraud scheme

Many Israelis were defrauded by Mr. San Klein in the past decade, he is known to be the mastermind behind the R1 visa fraud scheme.He admitted orchestrating a multi-faceted fraud scheme that included filing false tax returns and making false claims to enable aliens to obtain religious worker visas and has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison.

The R-1 visa category is suitable for religious ministers and for persons working in a religious vocation or occupation wishing to migrate to the United States of America. Under the program, churches, synagogues and mosques can ask the gove rnment to grant visas to foreigners to fill vacant positions. The sponsoring group or the foreigner may file the application. An applicant must include letters from a sponsor attesting that he or she has been a member of its denomination for at least two years, that the applicant will fill a specific religious position and is qualified for the job. The application also must provide evidence that the sponsor is a bona fide religious organization that qualifies for nonprofit tax status.

The U.S. government issues several thousand religious worker visas each year. There are two types: temporary three-year visas, and “green cards” that allow foreigners to become permanent residents. The Homeland Security study looked only at petitions for green cards, but the report noted that the three-year visa program faces identical fraud risks. The program dates to 1990, and has been used primarily by the Catholic Church. The State Department said that statistics breaking down recipients by faith are not available, but the majority do not come from predominantly Muslim countries. The program has long been suspected of being susceptible to fraud.

Samuel Klein, 60, a resident of the Hancock Park district of Los Angeles who owned a business called Smartax, was remanded into custody after being sentenced Wednesday afternoon by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner. Klein’s wife, Zipora Klein, 59, was also sentenced yesterday, receiving a prison term of 27 months. Judge Klausner, who also remanded Zipora Klein into custody, ordered the couple to pay more than $765,000 in restitution.

This week’s sentencings are the culmination of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), IRS – Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Education. The probe revealed that Samuel Klein filed fraudulent visa applications on behalf of clients, falsely claiming they were religious workers wanted for employment by New York religious institutions.

According to court documents, Samuel Klein filed bogus petitions for religious worker visas under the names of synagogues or Jewish community groups, claiming the religious institutions needed his clients as religious workers. In another case detailed in court documents, Samuel Klein submitted a visa application claiming an alien was needed to work for a New York company when, in truth, the alien had no plans to work for the company and did not have the qualifications claimed on the petition.

We hope this will be a lesson for other Immigration visa criminals that the government will eventually catch up.