Judge sends two to prison for 7 years for H-1B fraud

Company ran ‘a captive stable of cheap labor,’ say U.S. officials

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Two brothers were sentenced Friday to 87 months in prison for running an H-1B fraud scheme intended to create a low cost, on-demand workforce, federal law enforcement officials said.

Atul Nanda, 46, and his brother, Jiten "Jay" Nanda, 45, were each sentenced by Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn, the Chief U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, to 7 years and two months in federal prison, according to U.S. Attorney John Parker. The brothers were recently convicted by a jury following a trial.

U.S. authorities filed an indictment in 2013 alleging that the firm created by the brothers, Dibon Solutions, sponsored H-1B workers for jobs that didn't necessarily exist. The visa holders were only paid if the company was able to place them.

Dibon was headquartered in Carrollton, Texas.

The U.S. requires visa holders to be paid an annual salary. It bars firms from benching or holding workers in unpaid reserve between contracts. The government said that Dibon actively recruited H-1B workers and benched them.

"These two brothers created a highly profitable, and highly illegal business model at the extreme expense of the alien workforce that they recruited," said Katrina W. Berger, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Dallas. "In addition, this same illegal business model operated at an unfair advantage to Dibon's competition since it had a much lower operating overhead."

Parker said in a statement that "when employers abuse the program, however, the foreign workers become a captive stable of cheap labor, victimized to the company's financial benefit."

The company also required candidates to pay visa processing fees, even though current law requires the hiring firm to pay these fees. The company "attempted to hide this" by having the H-1B candidates pay the fees directly to Dibon, the U.S. said.

Three other defendants were charged in this case: Siva Sugavanam, 37, Vivek Sharma, 48, and Rohit Mehra, 39, each pleaded guilty before trial to one count of aiding and abetting visa fraud, the U.S. said. They were were each sentenced earlier this month to two years' probation.

This story, "Judge sends two to prison for 7 years for H-1B fraud" was originally published by Computerworld.

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