South Indian film personalities knowingly sponsored unqualified people not connected with the film industry as producers or as support staff to fraudulently get US visas, the American consulate explained on Thursday.
“These people lied to us about their association with the applicants who posed as producers scouting for shooting locations in the US. We do not believe they could have been misled into sponsoring these people by the visa consultants”.
“They’re equally as guilty as the applicants or visa consultants since they had perpetrated fraud,” David Hopper, Principal Officer of the American Consulate in Chennai, told a press meet here on Thursday.
Hopper said the visa fraud involving certain individuals of the South Indian film industry had first come to light in May 2007, following which 200 such applicants were identified after their documents were found to be fake.
“Normally these applications come in pairs where the actor or director is supporting the case of the other applicant to procure a B1 visa for a short business trip. Now we have barred even the legitimate personalities along with the fraudulent applicants they had supported from getting a US visa for life,” Hopper explained.
Hopper also disclosed that any visas that were issued have been revoked and information about travellers who had entered the US using these visas has been given to US law enforcement officials.
Asked how many cases of fraudulent visas had been referred to the Chennai police for investigation Hopper replied, “We cannot discuss details of the level of cooperation with the police.” He also refused to divulge the identities of the film personalities involved in the racket.