US: Three Indian-Origin Consultants Charged With H-1B Visa Fraud In California
Three Indian origin high tech consultants, Kishore Dattapuram of Santa Clara, Kumar Aswapathi of Austin, Texas and Santosh Giri of San Jose have been arrested and charged with visa fraud for submitting sham applications for H-1B visas to gain a competitive advantage over competing firms in US.
In a statement, Department of Justice said that last month a federal grand jury indicted them on 10 counts of substantive visa fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. According to federal prosecutor David Anderson, all three of them were charged with purportedly submitting forged H-1B visa applications for non-existent jobs, reports NDTV.
The H-1B visas are non-immigrant ones which are given to professionals or highly qualified people. It allows foreign workers to get a temporary authority to live and work for employers in US. These are very popular among Indian technology professionals.
According to the indictment, all three operated a consulting firm, Nanosemantics, Inc, which placed skilled foreign workers with other companies and submitted fake H-1B visa applications so that they could have a ready group of workers for placement with other customers. Several of the I-129 petitions submitted by defendants stated that particular workers had specific jobs waiting for them at designated companies when, in reality, the defendants knew that these jobs did not exist. They allegedly sought the co-operation of third parties to hide their fraud, reports Business Today.
In one case, defendants purportedly orchestrated payments by Nanosemantics to one individual for permission to list his company as the employer for foreign workers despite the fact that they actually intended to place the workers somewhere else.
All the three were arrested last week but according to officials, they have denied the charges and were released on bail. But they will again be tried on the charges to figure out their guilt later. They are next scheduled to appear on May 13 for a status conference before Judge Edward J Davila, US District Judge, and if found guilty, they might be sentenced to 10 years and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate for each violation.
As per a report by NDTV, President Donald Trump’s administration has announced a crackdown on visa fraud and changes to the H-1B visas system to give greater preferences to applicants educated in the US and to tighten the regulations governing the work visas.
According to the data by US government, 309,986 H-1B visas, or nearly 74%, were held by Indians last year.