SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A visiting Stanford University researcher has been charged with visa fraud and allegedly concealing her membership in the Chinese military, according to federal prosecutors.
Chinese national Song Chen, 38, entered the U.S. in December 2018 on a J-1 nonimmigrant visa, stating on her application that she had served in the Chinese military from 2000-2011 and that her current employer was a Beijing hospital, according to the criminal complaint cited by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
Song described herself in her visa application as a neurologist who was coming to the U.S. to conduct research at Stanford University related to brain disease, according to the complaint.
The affidavit alleges that Song is actually a member of the Chinese military, specifically a physician with the Air Force General Hospital and Fouth Military Medical University, institutions run by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The hospital Song listed as her employer was a cover for her true employer, the PLA, the affidavit states.
A Chinese health care website listed Song as an attending physician of the Department of Neurology of the PLA Air Force General Hospital.
In addition, the complaint states a search of Song’s external hard drive recovered deleted documents including a letter from Song to the Chinese Consulate in New York explaining she was extending her time in the United States for another year, saying her stated employer is a false front, and that, as a result, she had obtained approval for her extension from the PLA Air Force and FMMU.
Song was charged with obtaining a visa by material false statements. She made her initial federal court appearance on Monday morning.
If convicted, Song faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.