Atlanta, March 24, 2021 – Gee-Kung Chang has been arraigned on federal charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud. Chang and Jianjun Yu were indicted on March 18, 2021.
“The defendants allegedly abused the visa program and deceived Georgia Tech to bring researchers into the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “The charges presented are the first step toward holding them accountable.”
“The United States welcomes academics and researchers from across the globe,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “But we cannot allow anyone to exploit our benevolence. That's what these defendants are accused of doing and now they will be judged.”
“Schemes like this not only steal invaluable opportunities from legitimate, hard-working students it also allows scammers to come to the United States and profit from their misdeeds,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Identifying, arresting and prosecuting violators is vital to protect the integrity of our nation’s visa program.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: Chang, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology (“Georgia Tech”) in Atlanta, Georgia, and Yu, who was then a research director at ZTE USA—a subsidiary of ZTE Corporation, a partially state-owned Chinese telecommunications and information technology company—in Morristown, New Jersey, allegedly conspired together to bring Chinese nationals to the United States to conduct research at the company.
To facilitate the entry of the Chinese nationals into the United States, Chang allegedly abused his position as a professor at Georgia Tech, an institution that was a designated exchange sponsor for the Department of State’s J-1 Visa program, to arrange for Chinese nationals to fraudulently obtain and maintain J-1 Visas.
The J-1 Visa program is for individuals approved to participate in specific work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs with exchange sponsor institutions, like Georgia Tech. The program is not intended for general employment of foreign workers in the United States.
In the J-1 Visa paperwork submitted to the Department of State, the Chinese nationals allegedly indicated that they would be working with Chang at Georgia Tech. In reality, the indictment alleges, after arriving in the United States, the Chinese nationals traveled to and resided in New Jersey to work with Yu at ZTE USA. And, in some instances, Chinese nationals were paid salaries from Georgia Tech while they were actually working at ZTE USA.
Gee-Kung Chang, 73, of Smyrna, Georgia, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher C. Bly. Chang and Jianjun Yu, 53, of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 18, 2021. Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Samir Kaushal is prosecuting the case.