Suspected H-1B visa fraud leads to arrest of two Indian-Americans
Two Indian-Americans were arrested on 13 May, 2015 on suspicion of H-1B visa fraud. The arrests took place in New Jersey following a federal complaint claiming that they had been hiring foreign workers, mainly from India, without the skills and qualifications usually required for H-1B workers.
32-year-old, Hiral Patel, and 31-year-old, Shikha Mohta, employees of SCM Data Incorporated and MMC Systems Incorporated, face charges of conspiracy to bring in and “harbour aliens” and to pervert the course of justice.
Five years in prison for immigration fraud
The charges brought against the two men, who are both residents of Jersey City, carries a maximum five year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. The federal complaint lodged against the pair claims that they, along with their co-conspirators, hired foreign workers from India without the required IT experience for the positions to work in the US.
The pair then sponsored the H-1B visas of overseas workers with the intention of having them work for the clients of SCM Data and MMC Systems across the United States. They claimed that the workers would be working full-time in the US for the prevailing wage as required for an H-1B visa.
Having hired workers on H-1B visas for IT jobs, the pair falsified documents sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), stating that the foreign workers had full-time jobs with full-time salaries. However, apparently the employees were not paid the required full-time salary. Under the H-1B visa program it is especially important to pay the salary as stated in the original H-1B visa application.
Initial court appearances
Following their arrests, Patel and Mohta made an initial court appearance where prosecutors said: “Your scheme provided you, and others, with a labour pool of inexpensive, skilled foreign workers who could be used on an ‘as needed’ basis.
It was profitable because it required minimal overheads and SCM Data and MMC Systems could charge significant hourly rates for the foreign workers’ services.”