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Diplomacy in Action

Portston, Inc. Executive Sentenced For Foreign Worker Visa Scheme

Press Statement
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
San Francisco, CA
January 14, 2010


On January 7, 2010, in the Northern District of California Hung Tran was sentenced to one year of probation, 50 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine for aiding and abetting an alien who made a misleading representation on an entry visa application, Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent In-Charge Patrick Durkin announced.

According to the plea agreement and other court records, in April 2009, Tran sent instructions to a potential employee – who had applied for a non-immigrant entry visa - to indicate on his application that he would be training in the United States. In fact, court records show that Tran knew the potential employee would not be attending training but, rather, providing input to software design work. Upon searching Tran’s work email at Portston Inc. in San Mateo, authorities found that the potential employee had in fact applied for a tourist/business visa (B visa) not the appropriate visa for software engineers (H visa).

Federal law limits to 65,000 the number of aliens who may be initially provided H-1B status each fiscal year.

This month, Tran pleaded guilty to one count of Aiding and Abetting an Attempt to Enter the United States by a Willfully Misleading Representation, in violation of Title 8 U.S.C. § 1325 (a) and Title 18 U.S.C § 2.

“This criminal conviction may expose a larger problem in the Silicon Valley: employers who conceal foreign workers through shell companies, subsidiaries, and outsourcing arrangements so they can qualify for more accessible tourist visas instead of proper worker visas. It is not an administrative violation or a regulatory infraction, it’s a federal crime. Since September 11, 2001, the Diplomatic Security Service has stationed criminal investigators inside of Consular Sections to investigate entry visa frauds like this one and to keep criminals, imposters, terrorists, and crooks out of the United States.” said Durkin.

Persons with information about possible entry visa fraud are encouraged to contact the Diplomatic Security Service in San Francisco at (415) 705-1176, or any American Embassy or Consulate overseas.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State’s law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of 285 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. More information about the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security may be obtained at

Sarah Rosetti
Diplomatic Security Public Affairs

Patrick Durkin
Special-Agent-In-Charge, San Francisco Field Office

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