In raids dating back to last October across New Jersey and California and then more recent Depart of Justice and State Law Enforcement raids in 7 states, many people have been arrested and organizations brought to a virtual standstill.
This all really is a part by many members of Congress who harbor an anti-immigrant sentiment in their War on the H-1B visa. They want to ensure they continue to be re-elected by pandering to bigots and keeping their electorates combines of such easily influenced people and not educated, hard working immigrants.
Some people have already been convicted receiving prison terms and large fines connected to this H1B Visa & Immigration fraud. Many of those targeted in the raids in California, New Jersey and recently in Massachusetts have been Indian Americans.
The maximum penalty for these crimes are 20 years in jail and/or $250,000 fine.
The findings back in October of the the United States Custom and Immigration Service (USCIS) report include the following;
1. The H-1B employer required the beneficiary to pay the ACWIA filings fee or deducted certain fees associated with filing the I-129 petition to obtain the H-1B visa, effectively lowering the beneficiary’s wages to less than the required prevailing wage. The filing fees are the responsibility of the employer but in practice this does not always take place.
2. The employer failed to pay the beneficiary at least the prevailing wage for the particular occupation in the specific geographical location, as noted and attested to on the LCA filed with DOL. So by filing an application with an address in a smaller state (like Iowa) thus with a lower average wage than where the applicant would actually be working (like New Jersey), they artificially lowered the wage they should have paid.
3. The beneficiary was working in a geographical location not covered by a valid LCA filed with DOL. This is a follow on of No.2 where in the above example there were authorized to work in Iowa but were elsewhere.
4. The employer placed the beneficiary in a non-productive status, commonly referred to as “benching” (where the beneficiaries are not paid or paid less than the full hours specified on the petition), when work was not immediately or continuously available. Employees have to be paid the prevailing wage at all times even when not on a project. Often Employers would force employees to sign fake long term absence forms due to illness to try and justify this illegal practice.
On the application itself it was found;
1. The business did not exist and thus it would just a sham application designed to get the applicant to the US under false pretences
2. The educational degrees or experience letters submitted were confirmed to be fraudulent;
3. Signatures had been forged on supporting documentation
4.The beneficiary was performing duties that were significantly different from those described on the LCA and I-129 petition. (In one instance, the position described on the petition and LCA was that of a business development analyst. However, when USCIS conducted its review, the petitioner stated they would be performing laundry duties)
Many of the cases reviewed exhibited multiple fraud indicators and/or technical violations.
KEY STATISTICAL FINDINGS:
From the US audit of 246 H1B petitions, it was found 51 (about 20%) had violation(s) of some degree. Not all warranted criminal prosecution but were fraudulent nonetheless.
The breakdown was as follows.
Fraud: 13.4% (33 cases)
Technical Violation(s): 7.3% (18 cases)
Overall Violation Rate: 20.7% (51 cases)
U.S. Attorney Matthew Whitaker said at a Feb. 12 press conference that the indictments were “just the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to U.S. visa fraud.
The strange thing about all of this is firstly that this has been going on for a long time and immigrants have been complaining to the Department of Labor of this unfair and illegal treatment continuously before now something was done.
Funnily enough of course, this investigation which initially came to a head last year as a criminal case against unscrupulous company, lawyers and government officials barely attracting any media attention, has now become a front page story.
Immigrants have been abused in the workplace by the American bosses verbally and in physical ways by being asked to perform extreme workloads and receive low pay rates being tantamount to slavery.
These people have a huge fear to report anything to the Department of Labor as their H1B visa or E3 visa depends on the employer’s sponsorship and thus without it they will be forced to leave the country given the crazy rules, restrictions and short time you have to change employers on the H-1B visa.
However the punch line now is anti-immigrant and how for years foreigners have been taking US jobs which of course is supposed to cut deep at all the US workers who have been laid off in the current environment.
Of course nothing mentioned in these stories that it was another group of corrupt company and government officials that caused the Economic mess we are now all in.
Unfortunately the end result for the foreign applicant and family that may want to live and work in the US is that they have to be ever more vigelent. Look for the warning signs above and ensure that companies when dealing with you in the application process don’t expect you to lie to officials or on documents.
Finally there are US workers and Illegal Immigrants being abused in the workplace in the sense that their Fortune 500 companies are treating them as machinery rather than human beings. Of course given how strong the lobby is of these companies in Washington you would expect it to be business as usual.