A federal indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges the students conspired to maintain their visas by temporarily pooling their money. Prosecutors contend the goal was to make it appear they had sufficient funds to meet requirements that they could support themselves.
All nine are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud plus varying counts of visa fraud.
The government alleges the students presented a notarized bank letter to their international student adviser to obtain certification of financial responsibility. The indictment says that once they got the needed documents, they returned most of the temporarily obtained funds.
The U.S. attorney’s office says the maximum penalty for each count is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.