A federal grand jury in Dallas returned a one-count indictment last week charging a South Asian-American Dallas attorney and his assistant of Pakistani origin, with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.
This indictment was announced July 19, by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is investigating this case.
The indictment charges Bilal Ahmed Khaleeq, 47, an American citizen, and Amna Cheema, 37, a Pakistani national, with one count each of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. If convicted, the count charged in the indictment carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and Khaleeq and Cheema are presumed innocenct unless proven guilty.
Khaleeq and Cheema made their initial appearances in federal court July 18, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Horan. Both were released on bond.
The indictment alleges that in May 2015, Khaleeq intentionally solicited Person A (not identified in the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office), a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from India, to marry Cheema, to obtain U.S. permanent residence for Cheema.
In exchange, Person A received a payment of $745, with promises of additional monies upon approval of the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status application (Form I-485), the indictment alleges.
Cheema and Person A were married in Dallas County on June 15, 2015. Khaleeq allegedly arranged the marriage, advised Cheema regarding the filing of the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), and represented the parties at the interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After Cheema and Person A had been married, Khaleeq advised the parties on preparing the I-130 petition and supporting documents needed to make the marriage appear legitimate, the indictment alleges, adding that Khaleeq’s advice included but was not limited to, joint bank accounts, tax returns, bills concerning their joint residence, and other fraudulent evidence, including photos. On July 10, 2015, the parties filed Forms I-130 and I-485 with USCIS.
The indictment further alleges that from Jan. 26, 2016 through March 7, 2017, Khaleeq, Cheema and Person A had several discussions regarding the immigration process and the documentary evidence needed to represent Cheema and Person A as a bona fide married couple for the purposes of obtaining the immigration benefit.
In addition, the indictment alleges that Khaleeq coached Person A how to address the questions that would be posed during the USCIS interview process. Among other pieces of advice that he gave, Khaleeq allegedly instructed Person A specifically, to tell the USCIS adjudications officer that he cohabitated with Cheema even though that was a false statement. Khaleeq also advised Person A to leave some articles of clothing in Cheema’s house to make it appear that he was living there, the indictment says, and that the three parties discussed filing joint tax returns to provide additional evidence and discussed how long Person A and Cheema should remain married in order for her to obtain her U.S. permanent residence.
Khaleeq has an eponymous, Khaleeq Law Firm PLLC, in Dallas, where he is the lead attorney. The firm deals with a range of legal issues from bankruptcy, technology, criminal, family, health care, insurance, intellectual property, real estate, wills, trusts, immigration, juvenile, workers compensation, and non-profits, plus other areas.
Khaleeq has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin, Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Rice University in Houston, Texas and a Juris Doctorate degree from Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska, according to the website of the law firm.
The website also says Khaleeq “has been honored with numerous community service awards including the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for Iowa and Nebraska (2009), the Omaha Chamber of Commerce for the Leadership Omaha Class (2009-2010) and the Nebraska Bar Association for Leadership (2010). He is actively involved in several non-profit, civic, religious organisations as President and Board Member, the site adds. .