The Department of Homeland Security has filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the NMI against a woman who allegedly committed visa fraud to renew her CNMI driver’s license.
Yaping Tao, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, is accused of document and visa fraud and is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with visas, and fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents.
According to the complaint filed by Homeland Security Investigation special agent David West, he conducted an immigration record check on Tao after identifying a vehicle registered in her name. West determined that Tao has no legal immigration status to be in the U.S.
West said he contacted the CNMI Bureau of Motor Vehicles to verify if Tao had ever applied for a CNMI driver’s license and BMV confirmed that she applied for two separate CNMI driver’s licenses in 2012 and 2015.
Tao told the HSI investigator through an interpreter that she obtained her first driver’s license legally in 2012 by taking a written test and a driving test.
When her 2012 driver’s license was about to expire, Tao allegedly asked around about renewing it and that a friend told her about an unnamed Chinese woman who could help her get a driver’s license.
Tao said she knew that she could not renew her driver’s license because she did not have legal immigration status, but she paid that friend over $250 to help renew her license.
Tao said she signed a blank BMV application and gave her old CNMI driver’s license to her friend.
After paying the fee, Tao said she went to BMV and only had to take a photo for her license and she never submitted any documents to BMV.
Tao said the 2015 BMV driver’s license application had her signature, but she was not sure who completed the rest of the application for her.
Tao said she had never seen the CW-1 visa that was submitted with her application, adding that she does not know what the person did to renew her driver’s license, but knew it was illegal.
Tao entered the CNMI prior to the federalization of local immigration.
Tao appeared on Tuesday before District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.
Manglona released Tao under her own recognizance and ordered her to report to the U.S. Marshals Service for processing.
The judge also reset Tao’s preliminary hearing and arraignment for Oct 7 at 9am.