CHICAGO (CBS) –– A Naperville mother came to the United States in search of a better life. Her job is going great. Her son is doing well. She likes her community. But she’s worried after a recent attempt to improve her immigration status left her feeling threatened.
She immigrated to the U.S. and asked we only use her last name – Sinha.
Most days, she’s typing away at the computer, on the clock as an IT specialist, off the clock researching ways to get a Green Card so she and her son can stay here for good.
“I was thinking in those terms as a mother. What should I do to make my family’s life easier?” she said.
Sinha left India on a temporary work visa. She applied for a permanent work visa called an EB2 in 2017 and is still waiting for that to process.
“People say that it might take a lifetime to get the Green Card,” she said.
So the Naperville mom is switching gears, trying for a different type of Green Card that seems to be processed faster, nicknamed the Einstein Visa. Officially, the EB1A visa is meant for people with extraordinary ability.
“I feel that being 16 years in this IT field, I have a lot of things in my bag,” Sinha said.
To spruce up her application, Sinha contacted the people behind The Next League Program. It’s essentially a visa coaching service.
The company’s LinkedIn page also features videos boasting about success with so-called Einstein Visas.
“There were reviews on his brochure, but there was no [independent] review online,” Sinha said.
Sinha decided not to proceed with coaching but had already paid a $2,000 deposit that the company said was non-refundable.
So she initiated a credit card dispute through Capital One and received a temporary credit for $2,000.
Then things took a big turn. Ranjeet Mudholkar, the creator of the Next League Program, sent her an email informing Sinha the company would “initiate legal proceedings” because of the chargeback.
He warned they’re filing “police complaints” and possible “civil and criminal” suits.
“I was shocked. I was not expecting that kind of an email from someone who is so educated,” Sinha said.
The email went on to say her actions – a seemingly simple credit card dispute – could have “severe implications on your immigration status.”
“I was having a fast heartbeat, and all those things. That’s how my body reacts to stress,” Sinha said.
She was so stressed that she panicked and paid Mudholkar $2,500 over Zelle to make the problem go away. She said he promised to pay that back to her if the Capital One chargeback was reversed.
“I was scared for myself and my family,” she said.
Immigration attorney Suzanne Seltzer said, “I can’t imagine the police are very much interested in this.”
Seltzer also doesn’t think a credit card dispute is something U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services care about either.
She considered that email an empty threat on a vulnerable person.
“I have 30 years’ experience doing EB1A,” she said. “This is something that’s very dear to my heart, and when I hear someone being exploited, it’s disturbing.”
Mudholkar did not see it that way. He exchanged multiple emails with CBS 2, standing by his choice to warn the woman about legal implications of disputing a charge that’s non-refundable.
He proposed a “solution”: her money is “rightfully due to her” and the company will “promptly issue her refund” if she signs an affidavit saying she “inadvertently withdrew from The Next League Program.”
“I did not sign it. You see, ‘inadvertently,’ it’s not true,” she said.
Sinha said she’s now “working on my efforts” to try to get a Green Card.
She’s down a bunch of money but not out of motivation.
After CBS 2 reached out to Capital One, it flip-flopped, and Sinha won her credit card dispute. The bank refused to explain why it took a TV station to return her money.
However, she is still out the $2,500 she sent to Mudholkar via Zelle.