Four executives of two information technology staffing companies, including three of Indian origin, have been arrested on charges of fraudulently using the H-1B visa program to gain an unfair advantage over competitors.
Each of the four – Vijay Mane, 39, of Princeton, NJ; Venkataramana Mannam, 47, of Edison, NJ; Fernando Silva, 53, of Princeton and Sateesh Vemuri, 52, of San Jose, California, was charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced July 2 that Mane, Mannam, and Vemuri controlled two IT staffing companies located in Middlesex County, N.J.– Procure Professionals Inc. and Krypto IT Solutions Inc.
According to court documents, Silva and Mannam also controlled another NJ staffing company, referred to in the complaint as “Client A.”
The defendants used Procure and Krypto to recruit foreign nationals and sponsor them for H-1B visas, which allow recipients to live and work temporarily in the U.S. in positions requiring specialized skills.
To expedite their visa applications, the defendants caused Procure and Krypto to file H-1B applications falsely asserting that the foreign worker/beneficiaries had already secured positions at Client A, when, in reality, no such positions existed, the prosecutor said.
Instead, the defendants used these fraudulent applications to build a “bench” of job candidates already admitted to the United States, 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.
Vemuri made his initial appearance July 1, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion in Newark federal court. Mannam and Silva appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court on June 25, while Mane appeared before Judge Wettre on June 27. All were released on $250,000 bond.