Eleven individuals were arrested by federal authorities on February 11 on charges of visa fraud in relation to the H-1B visa program, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Iowa Office announcement reported by Business Week. An additional ten charges of conspiracy and mail fraud were made against Vision Systems Group, a New Jersey based IT company.
The charges against Vision Systems Group allege that the firm was defrauding the H1-B program by bringing in workers to allegedly work in Iowa, but instead sending them to other areas of the country for actual places of employment. The Economic Times reports that the federal government is seeking $7.4 million dollars in damages from the firm. The same report indicates that other firms being investigated on similar charges of fraud include the Iowa based firms Worldwide Software Services and Sana Systems.
The H1-B document is a visa for non-immigrants which allows employers to temporarily employ specialty workers with very highly skill sets and specializations to within American borders if they do not hold other visas and are not attempting to immigrate. A worker who has been granted a H1-B visa may work in America for three years with a possible extension of a further three years, according to Wikipedia‘s posting on the program.
At the heart of the controversy and charges related to the H1-B visa program is that it is being used to hire foreign workers who will work for lower wages, while leaving qualified American citizens without an employment opportunity. Business Week reports that the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) discovered high levels of fraud in the program in a recent study.