A Chinese researcher and officer in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Sunday after US agents discovered that the individual “intentionally made false statements about his military service in his visa application.”
Chinese national Xin Wang, who entered the US on March 26, 2019, via a multiple entry J1 non-immigrant visa, has been charged with the crime of visa fraud, according to a recently unsealed criminal complaint filed on Monday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
The court filing detailed that Wang obtained his visa on December 17, 2018, after submitting an application that contained false statements about his military service with the PLA.
According to his application for a J1 visa, which is issued to individuals participating in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs, Wang noted he was an employee of the Air Force Military University and was coming to the US to conduct research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
He also disclosed that he previously served as “Associate Professor in Medicine in the Chinese Army” from September 1, 2002, through September 1, 2016, the filing said.
Despite the Chinese national being in the US for over a year, authorities did not learn of any falsehoods regarding Wang’s application until he attempted to depart the US for Tianjin, China, on June 7, 2020.
US Customs and Border Protection agents at LAX conducted an interview with the Chinese national, who revealed that “he was currently a ‘Level 9’ technician within the PLA, had received a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council and had received a stipend from the PLA while he was studying in the” US, according to the unsealed document.
FBI Special Agent Patrick Fogerty asserted that, in an attempt to increase his chances of obtaining a J1 visa, Wang “intentionally made false statements about his military service” on his application.
The Los Angeles Times noted that a court statement also alleged that Wang was instructed by PLA personnel to “observe the layout of the UCSF lab and bring back information on how to replicate it in China.”
Wang is set to return to court on Friday for his detention hearing.
If convicted of visa fraud, the Chinese national faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.