Georgia Tech Chinese professor indicted for falsifying visas to recruit for ZTE in U.S.

Gee-Kung Chang, a 73-year-old Chinese professor at Georgia Tech, was recently indicted by the state’s district attorney for his involvement in visa fraud and wire fraud. Also charged was a 53-year-old Chinese man named Jianjun Yu, a former research director at ZTE America.

In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia stated that Jikun Zhang used his position to obtain J-1 visas for a number of Chinese individuals who falsified their status as visiting scholars for work-study at Georgia Tech through the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 visa program. In their applications submitted to the Department of Homeland Security, these individuals claimed that they would be paid to work with Jikun Zhang at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. In fact, upon their arrival in the United States, they all went to work with Yu at ZTE America’s research center in New Jersey and lived in New Jersey. And in some cases, the Chinese were paid by Georgia Tech for the time they worked at ZTE USA.

The defendants allegedly abused the visa program to deceive Georgia Tech into bringing Chinese researchers into the United States,” said Kurt R. Erskine, acting district attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, in a press release. Filing charges is the first step in holding them accountable.”

Born in Taiwan, Jikun Zhang received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and the University of California, Riverside, respectively. He was in charge of research and development at the prestigious Bell Labs, where he held the positions of director of research and chief scientist for optoelectronic Internet, and also held a vice president position at a communications company for a period of time before becoming a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Engineering.

Zhang Jikun’s research areas include optical wave communications, digital signal transmission, communications technology, etc., and personally owns 55 related patents.

According to several media outlets, the other suspect is most likely Yu Jianjun, who is the director of ZTE’s North American Lightwave Research Institute and a doctoral supervisor at Fudan University, and has worked as a researcher at Bell Labs and Georgia Tech.

A J-1 visa is a visa issued by the United States to a person coming to the United States for academic exchange, also known as a “visiting scholar visa,” and is not a visa for foreign nationals to come to the United States to work. In principle, J-1 holders must return to their home country for two years after their visas expire, but they may apply for a waiver to remain in the United States.