New York: An Indian-origin man has been sentenced to prison in the US after being convicted for wire and visa fraud, under which he collected over USD 450,000 in illegal filing fees for H-1B visas and green cards for workers from India.
Ramesh Venkata Pothuru, 44, a former owner and operator of Virgo Inc. and Isync Solutions, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison following convictions for wire and visa fraud, according to a statement from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The sentencing follows a joint investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF).
Pothuru collected over USD 450,000 in illegal filing fees and related expenses from more than 100 fraudulent visas and employer-sponsored green cards for nonimmigrant workers from his native India.
The investigation disclosed that between 2010 and 2013, Pothuru collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in filing fees from workers he was sponsoring under the H-1B nonimmigrant worker visa program.
Federal regulations prohibit employers from soliciting payments from H-1B non-immigrant workers to cover the costs associated with filing fees, which fees are required by law to be borne by the sponsoring US employer.
In addition, many of the H-1B non-immigrant workers were also recipients of employer-sponsored permanent foreign labour certification applications filed by Pothuru with the Department of Labor.
Permanent foreign labour certification filings typically involve costs of over several thousand dollars in addition to the filing fees; Pothuru unlawfully collected both from the employees.
Pothuru collected these illegal fees and expenses from the employees he sponsored for H-1B visas and green cards through direct payments to his personal bank accounts.
He subsequently submitted false applications in which he did not identify the fees that he collected from the non-immigrant workers and swore that he did not collect, the statement said....