Thứ Năm, 10 tháng 7, 2014

2 Taiwanese women charged with visa fraud

As Guam continues to seek expansion of the federal visa waiver program for tourism, a new federal indictment alleges that two Taiwanese women abused the program to work here as bar girls.

The indictment, filed yesterday, charged Chih Ling Liu, who’s also known as Ashley Liu; and Shih Ya Hung, also known as Angie Hung, of visa fraud and conspiring to commit visa fraud.

“The object of the conspiracy was to cause citizens of the Republic of Taiwan to enter Guam posing as tourists under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, … for the purpose of illegally employing them as bar girls for financial gain,” the indictment states.

There were other co-conspirators, the indictment states, but they weren’t named in the document.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands shares a federal visa waiver program with Guam that allows citizens of some countries to visit without first obtaining a visa.

In 2009, a change in federal rules allowed Taiwanese visitors an extended stay on Guam or in the CNMI for 45 days instead of the previous 15-day limit, court documents state.

The indictment states Liu and Hung “posed” as tourists when they entered Guam with the intent of obtaining illegal employment.

The two women entered Guam earlier this year on different dates.

“Hung worked as a bar girl at Star Melody/Linda’s Lounge, in Tumon, … where she worked as a club hostess soliciting drink sales from customers for financial profit for her and the lounge,” the indictment states.

Liu also worked at Star Melody Lounge as a club hostess, the indictment states.

“The Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program applied only to persons who were seeking entry as tourists, or those seeking entry to conduct limited business transactions,” the indictment states. “It did not allow citizens of the Republic of Taiwan and others admitted under such program to enter Guam for the purposes of employment, or to be employed in Guam during the term of their entry,” the indictment states.

Worked illegally

After their 45-day visa waiver stay ran out, the two women allegedly continued to work illegally, the indictment states.

The federal government has allowed tourists from Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and a few other countries to enter Guam without going through a visa screening process through U.S. embassies or consulates abroad. Certain Russian tourists also are allowed visa-free travel into Guam.

After the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program went into effect in 2009, a U.S.-wide visa waiver program for Taiwanese tourists also went into effect in 2012, according to Guam Visitors Bureau.

Guam’s quest to expand the visa waiver program, to allow visitors from mainland China to visit without a visa, continues to wait for U.S. government approval.

GVB General Manager Karl Pangelinan said GVB’s efforts to diversify the island’s visitor markets show Guam’s visa waiver program is working.

“However, those rare cases that abuse the system should know they will get caught,” Pangelinan said.

2 Taiwanese women charged with visa fraud

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