The conviction was announced by U.S. Attorney John Parker, Northern District of Texas. This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Amna Cheema, 37, from Pakistan pleaded guilty to the charges on October 10 before U.S. District Judge Renee Harris Toliver. Cheema will remain in custody pending sentencing which is set for January 22, 2018.
Co-defendant Bilal Khaleeq, 47, is scheduled to begin trial December 11 for his role in the conspiracy. If convicted, Khaleeq faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to plea documents filed in the case, in May 2015, Cheema engaged in discussions with Khaleeq and another individual (Person A) at Khaleeq’s law office to discuss planning Cheema’s marriage to Person A in order for Cheema to obtain legal status in the United States.
In exchange for agreeing to marry Cheema, Person A was paid $745 and promised more money after the immigration process was completed. On June 15, 2015, Cheema married Person A to establish eligibility for legal status in the United States.
Cheema, Person A and Khaleeq discussed the filing of the alien relative petition forms (I-130), the permanent residence applications (I-485) and additional evidence needed to ensure approval of those forms, including filing joint tax returns and placing articles of male clothing at Cheema’s house as further evidence of a valid marriage.