Indian pleads guilty for attempted naturalisation fraud to obtain US citizenship
New York, Apr 11: A 67-year-old Indian in the US has pleaded guilty to one count of attempted naturalisation fraud, facing up to 10 years in prison, officials said. Pal Singh, who also went by names -- Surinder Singh and Harpal Singh -- first landed in the US in 1992 with an Indian passport and an entry visa which was deemed fraudulent.
He pleaded guilty before US District Court Judge Esther Salas to an information charging him with one count of attempted naturalisation fraud, US Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
The charge carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison. The sentencing is scheduled for August.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, in March 1992, Singh, an Indian national, applied for admission into the US as a tourist at Los Angeles International Airport by presenting an Indian passport that purported to contain an entry visa to the country.
Singh was refused admission in the US because the entry visa was deemed fraudulent and he was detained pending exclusion proceedings. Later, Singh applied for asylum in the US in his true name, and he was released on bond while his asylum claim was evaluated.
In June 1993, an immigration judge in New York denied Singh's asylum application and ordered him to surrender for deportation. He, however, failed to appear for his deportation. In August 1995, Singh fraudulently applied for asylum in the US under the identity of 'Harpal Singh' and claimed that he entered by crossing the US-Mexico border in December 1994.
Singh did not disclose that he had previously been denied asylum under his true identity.
In March 1996, an immigration judge denied Singh's second asylum application and was again ordered to surrender for deportation. Singh again failed to appear for his deportation. In May 1996, Singh again fraudulently applied for asylum in the US under the identity of 'Surinder Singh', claiming he had entered by crossing the US-Mexico border in November 1995.
He did not disclose that he had previously been denied asylum under his true identity and under the identity of Harpal Singh.
This application further claimed that Surinder Singh had been beaten and tortured in India in 1994 despite the fact that Singh had been living in the US at the time under his true identity.
In June 1996, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service granted Singh's third asylum application in the name of 'Surinder Singh' based on fraudulent information provided by him.
In December 2015, Singh filed an application to become a naturalised US citizen with the US Department of Homeland Security under the identity of Surinder Singh.
He falsely answered questions relating to his identity, his prior immigration applications, and his immigration status, among others.
Last year, Singh appeared in the identity of Surinder Singh before an officer of the Department of Homeland Security in Newark for an interview, which was conducted under oath and video-recorded.
Singh, assisted by counsel and by a Punjabi interpreter, made false statements about his entire immigration status.
A qualified fingerprint examiner from the US Department of Homeland Security's Biometric Support Center compared fingerprints taken of Singh when he initially attempted to enter the US in March 1992 to fingerprints taken in the names of Harpal Singh and Surinder Singh in connection with later immigration proceedings. The examiner concluded that the same individual made all of the fingerprints.