A Manhattan Court has sentenced Suresh Hiranandaney, 61, Lalit Chabria, 54, and Anita Chabira, 50, to terms ranging from six months of home confinement, to a year in jail for involvement in an $8 million student visa fraud scheme. They were arrested in May 2014, following a long-term investigation by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI).
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said the three turned their for-profit schools into "instruments of fraud to exploit our nation's foreign student visa and domestic student financial aid programs for their own personal financial gain. Education fraud remains a high-priority focus of ours and we will prosecute all those who make a self-serving sham out of education". In addition the three were ordered to forfeit $7,440,000 to the US from the proceeds of their student visa fraud, and pay $1 million in restitution to the Department of Education for losses from their student financial aid fraud”.
The accused Trio ran Micropower Career Institute (MCI) in Manhattan, the US. Mr Hiranandaney was MCI's President; his brother-in-law Lalit Chabria was its Vice President and his sister Anita MCI's Vice President. The three reportedly failed to report to immigration authorities that foreign citizens were not attending classes at their institutes, despite a federal law requirement that foreign citizens on student visas must pursue full courses of study at the approved schools. In a manner, they exploited the US financial aid and foreign student visa programmes, which are meant to facilitate people, get a higher education. In the process the trio committed federal crimes.
Importantly, in the US if a student fails to attend classes as required, the school is required to inform immigration authorities so that the authorities may terminate that student's visa.
The male accused Suresh and Lalit were sentenced to one year and a day in prison, and the female accused Anita was given six months home confinement.