Federal Judge Jails Visa Mill Owner

Seven Years After Investigation Opens

By David North on April 25, 2018

It's a little late in the game, but we should acknowledge that DHS agents helped close four California visa mills – but a long time ago.

The Center has been critical of the agency for allowing so many of these institutions to flourish for long periods of time.

Recent closures have usually been the work of non-governmental accreditation agencies and/or state regulators – not the feds – as most recently noted in the cases of Silicon Valley University, in California, and the American College of Commerce and Technology in Falls Church, Virginia.

On April 20 a Justice Department press release stated that a federal judge had sentenced Hee Sun Shim, of Hancock Park, CA, the owner of the four Los Angeles area schools, to serve 15 months in jail and to forfeit $450,000.

The investigation apparently had started seven years ago; four years later, in March 2015, Mr. Shim and two of his employees were arrested for their roles in operating four visa mills. It took three more years before the arrest led to the sentencing.

It is not clear when the four schools were closed, but none of them are currently listed as being licensed by DHS to teach foreign students on the "Study in the States" listing, which is routinely very slow in removing terminated schools from its tally. We had previously reported that the schools were closed as of September of last year, at which time we cited the indictment as saying that the schools had collected more than $5 million in visa fraud receipts.

One of the four schools, however, Walter Jay M.D. Institute in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, is alive and well, at least according to the U.S. Department of Education's even more laggardly listing of accredited schools. The other three schools were named Prodee University, the American College of Forensic Studies, and the Likie Fashion and Technology College.

Unfortunately none of the reporting we have read mentions the fact the visa mills not only trade student visas for tuition payments, but that virtually every such student gets to work throughout the "study" period, and for one to three years afterward, in federally-subsidized jobs. The Optional Practical Training program, as we have noted before, gives employers of OPT students an 8.25 percent discount on wages, by excusing both the employers and the alumni from paying the routine payroll taxes.

Citizen and green card-holder college grads, and their employers, never get this tax break. The employers of alien college grads are thus rewarded for hiring the alien rather than a citizen, and the trust funds (Medicare, Social Security, and Federal Unemployment Insurance) are raided to secure this subsidy.

Closing a visa mill is not only an appropriate bit of law enforcement, it also aids our hard-pressed trust funds for the elderly.