A Chinese national was accused of spying on the engineers, including defense contractors of the United States, on the behalf of the Chinese government. In this photo, an Honor Guard awaits the arrival of Hu Jintao, president of the People's Republic of China, at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, April 12, 2010. Getty Images/ Brendan Smialowski

A Chinese national was accused of spying on engineers, including defense contractors of the United States, on the behalf of the Chinese government Tuesday.

Ji Chaoqun, 27, was arrested in Chicago on Tuesday after he was suspected of working “at the direction of a high-level intelligence officer in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security,” according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in District Court in Chicago and announced in a press conference by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. for the Northern District of Illinois, and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s Chicago field office.

He was charged with one count of knowingly acting in the U.S. as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the attorney general and was scheduled to appear in Chicago court at 5:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

Ji arrived in the U.S. for studying electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 2013. At the time he possessed an F1 Visa, which is mandatory for all nonimmigrant students coming to the country. He earned a master's degree in electrical engineering in 2015, BBC News reported.

In 2016, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves as an E4 specialist under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program.

According to University of Michigan’s International Student and Scholar Services, MAVNI, launched by the Defense Department in 2009, “is a recruiting program that allows legal non-citizens with in-demand skills to join a military branch such as the U. S. Army in exchange for expedited U.S. citizenship.”

Around 10,400 troops have been recruited through the program since it started. The recruitment process of MAVNI was frozen in 2016 after former President Barack Obama ordered additional background checks on the existing military recruits that came through the program. The last batch of recruits for the program came through in October 2016.

In an October 2017 memo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis ordered the execution of the additional background checks of the MAVNI recruits.

“The Department is working diligently and with all deliberate speed to complete all background investigations for the MAVNI population. MAVNI applicants for Reserve service often enter the Delayed Training Program (DTP), while awaiting completion of vetting and shipment to basic military training,” Department of Defense said in a statement at the time, Military Times reported.

As part of his application for MAVNI, Ji had denied having any manner of contact with a foreign government within the past seven years. However, upon investigation, it was found that he did have contact and a working relationship with a Chinese intelligence officer — a piece of information he failed to disclose during an interview with a U.S. Army officer as part of the recruitment process.

According to the criminal complaint, Ji provided the intelligence officer with biographical information on eight individuals, including Chinese nationals working as engineers and scientists in the U.S., some of whom were U.S. defense contractors, "for possible recruitment by the JSSD."

If proven guilty of the charge, Ji could face up to 10 years in prison.