Amna Cheema, 37, a Pakistani national, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver of the Northern District of Texas, Oct. 10, and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.
Cheema will remain in custody pending sentencing which is set for January 22, next year.
Co-defendant Bilal Ahmed Khaleeq, 47, a South Asian-American attorney from Dallas, is scheduled to begin trial on December 11, for his alleged role in the conspiracy. If convicted, Khaleeq faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Khaleeq is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to plea documents filed in Cheema’s case, in May 2015, Cheema engaged in discussions with Khaleeq and another individual at Khaleeq’s law office to discuss planning Cheema’s marriage to an individual identified only as ‘Person A’ in order for Cheema to obtain legal status in the United States, according to the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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 allegedly 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.