The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website states that the H-1B Visa program allows U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations tend to be in the fields of science, engineering, information technology (IT), teaching and accounting. The head of an IT staffing company from New York committed immigration fraud by falsifying immigration documents for Indian nationals. (This allowed them to enter the U.S. illegally and work for tech companies in the field of computer programming.)
Just for the heck of it, check out the H-1B Specialty Occupations web page for H1-B Visa eligibility requirements. You’ll find that there are three categories that foreign nationals can qualify under including Specialty Occupations, DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker, and Fashion Model. (Does anyone find it interesting that there is a category for fashion models? Because what the U.S. really needs most for growing our nation’s economy is more fashion models. But, I digress.)
The H1-B Visa is distributed through a lottery to employers. (Only 85,000 H1-B Visas are awarded per year.) Today’s fraudster used his IT staffing companies to defraud the government and his clients. (Some say that deceptive IT staffing companies use the visa to provide cheap foreign labor to companies.)
Here’s a little background information on today’s fraudster. He arrived on U.S. soil from his homeland of India in 1998 and became a U.S. citizen in 2009. (But apparently, that’s about all he did legally.) He built a comfortable life for his family, which includes a wife and two sons, by running two IT staffing companies. The New Yorker made it big in the U.S. by scamming the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State by falsifying visa applications, work experience documents and work contracts. (Needless to say, the government is not very happy with him, nor are his clients because he did not deliver what he promised.)
The fraudster’s illegal actions led to the illegal entry and employment of more than 10 visa holders, including his sister-in-law. One of his clients testified that he was supposed to work in-house at one of the staffing company’s offices in New York while interviewing for jobs, but he ended up marketing himself and finally landed a job on his own in San Jose, California. Another client paid the fraudster’s staffing company $3,500 for the H-1B application. (The law bans employers from making job candidates pay visa fees.) Yet another client paid the fraudster $2,500 to expedite his visa application, but the application for premium processing was never submitted. (And, that worker ended up working at a different location than specified on the visa application – another violation of the law.) On top of that, an employee of the office building where the fraudster’s business was supposedly located confirmed that the IT staffing business only had a table and two chairs. There was barely enough room for two people. (Busted!)
The 46-year-old IT staffing company owner was convicted of immigration fraud and sentenced to a year and a day in prison. He must pay a $5,000 fine and forfeit $1.1 million in assets. (This includes strip malls and bank funds – all acquired through his visa fraud scheme.)
Ironically, during a pre-sentencing court filing, the fraudster complained about the complicated H-1B process, describing how the visa-fraud conviction has affected him. He griped about the amount of income he lost, his debt, his poor reputation, lack of friends and poor health citing sleepless nights and headaches. (Isn’t that just like a typical fraudster to think only of himself and not about the harm that he caused to others?)
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “H-1B: Prison for visa fraud in case involving Bay Area workers,” published by The Mercury News on March 27, 2019.
The head of an IT staffing company has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after federal investigators uncovered an H-1B visa-fraud scheme involving two Bay Area workers.
Anjaneyulu Katam, 46, “manipulated the H-1B visa program,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release. “Katam falsified visa applications, work experience documents, and work contracts, which he then submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State, in order to secure illegal H-1B visas for Indian nationals,” the department said.