A federal judge has sentenced two owners of an IT consulting company to each serve more than seven years in prison for H-1B visa fraud. The case offers a reminder to employers about the serious consequences of noncompliance and misuse of the H-1B visa program.

The company recruited and sponsored foreign workers for H-1B visas, but falsely represented in visa-related applications to the Labor Department and the Department of Homeland Security that the workers would be full-time, salaried employees of the company.

Key points:

  • Instead of hiring the workers as employees, the company rented them out to third-party companies needing computer consulting services at rates that were significantly above what the workers were paid.
  • In conduct known as “benching,” the company paid the H-1B workers only for hourly work on an as-needed basis, and benched them without pay when demand for work was low.
  • The company improperly charged the H-1B workers the government visa-processing fees that by law are required to be paid by the sponsoring employer.

Background: The two owners were convicted in November after a jury found them guilty of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and four counts of wire fraud. Three others who worked at the company pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting visa fraud and were sentenced to two years of probation.

BAL Analysis: Companies using the H-1B program should ensure that they are aware of the legal obligations associated with the program and the recent interest federal law enforcement authorities have taken in prosecuting visa fraud cases.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact BerryApplemanLeiden@balprod.tegandev.com.

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