An attorney operating a law firm in Somerset County, New Jersey, was arrested for allegedly making false statements in visa applications.
Steven G. Thomas, 52, of New Hope, Pennsylvania, is charged by complaint with preparing and filing false visa applications on behalf of clients.
He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni.
According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, documents filed in this case and statements made in court Thomas, who operates the Thomas & Thomas law firm in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, encouraged clients to apply for asylum under fraudulent pretenses.
The lawyer advised clients regarding the manner in which they were most likely to obtain asylum, knowing that these clients did not legitimately qualify for protection granted by the United States to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.
Thomas also prepared, or caused to be prepared on behalf of those clients, fraudulent applications and affidavits, which were submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
USCIS is the federal government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States with 19,000 government employees and contractors working at more than 200 offices across the world.
Sellinger said a confidential informant working for law enforcement met in January of 2020 with Thomas, who filed on that person’s behalf in April 2020, a visa application containing numerous false statements.
Sellinger credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations’ Newark Field Office and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Fraud Detection and National Security Unit in the Newark Asylum office with the investigation leading to the arrest.
Senior Civil Rights Counsel Joseph Gribko of Sellinger’s Criminal Division in Newark is handling the case.