Hyderabad: Two men from Andhra Pradesh are among the four Indian-American IT executives arrested in an H-1B visa fraud in the United States.
Forty-seven-year-old Venkataramana Mannam from New Jersey and 52-year-old Sateesh Vemuri from California, both having roots in AP, were arrested in the US on the charge of fraudulently using the H-1B visa programme to gain an “unfair advantage” over their competitors, the US Justice Department announced.
There has been a crackdown on the popular visa programme by the Trump administration.
Venkataramana Rao is a director in 22 companies. Incidentally, he had contested the 2009 Assembly elections from Darsi constituency in Prakasam district on a TD ticket and had lost.
Sateesh Kumar Vemuri was the California Regional Coordinator for the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) and is one of the key players in the success of the 2011 TANA conferences held in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Besides these two, Vijay Mane, 39, and Fernando Silva, 53, both from New Jersey, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, the Department of Justice said.
All the accused appeared before a Newark federal court. They were all released on a bond of $2,50,000, the Department of Justice said.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $2,50,000 fine.
According to the department of justice, Mane, Mannam, and Vemuri controlled two IT staffing companies — Procure Professionals Inc and Krypto IT Solutions Inc-- located in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Silva and Mannam controlled another New Jersey staffing company, referred to in the complaint as ‘Client A’.
The two companies Procure and Krypto recruited foreign nationals and sponsored them for H-1B visas, which allow the recipient to live and work temporarily in the US in positions requiring specialised skills.
To expedite the visa applications, the defendants caused Procure and Krypto to file H-1B applications falsely by asserting that the foreign worker/beneficiaries had already secured positions at Client A, when, in reality, no such positions existed, federal prosecutors alleged.
Instead, they used these fraudulent applications to build a “bench” of job candidates already admitted to the US, who could then be hired out immediately to client companies without the need to wait through the visa application process, giving the defendants an advantage over their competitors in the staffing industry.