Friday, 05 July 2019 09:17

US charges four men with H-1B visa fraud

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US charges four men with H-1B visa fraud Pixabay

Four men of Indian origin, three of whom ran two IT staffing companies in the US, have been charged with committing H-1B visa fraud by bringing job-seekers in on false claims that they had secured positions with companies in the country.

The Times of India reported that the US Justice Department had charged the four with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. They were released on bail of US$250,000.

The charge against them carries a maximum term of five years in jail and a US$250,000 fine.

India is the biggest recipient of H-1B visas, with nearly three-quarters of the annual quota of 85,000 going to its citizens who work predominantly in the tech industry in the US.

Three of the men — Venkataramana Mannam, Ravi Vemuri, and Vijay Mane — ran Procure Professionals and Krypto IT Solutions, in Middlesex, New Jersey. The fourth man, Fernando Silva, jointly owned a firm with Mannam, that was referred to as Client A in the chargesheet.

The complaint claimed applications for H-1B visas had been lodged by Procure and Krypto, saying that the applicants in question had already secured employment with Client A.

But the chargesheet said no positions as claimed existed at Client A and the applications were a means of fraudulently obtaining the visas.

The chargesheet claimed the four used the fraudulent applications to build up staff who could then be hired out to other companies without having to wait for the visa process to be gone through.

This, it was said, would give them an advantage in the staff supply sector which has plenty of big names competing for business, among them Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant and Wipro.

Earlier this year, the US made changes to the H-1B visa system which had been flagged since the 2016 Presidential election brought Donald Trump to power.

One change was an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a US institution of higher education.

The second was that any firm applying for an H-1B must first register with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services; only companies which were selected could then apply for the visa.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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