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Chinese Immig. Daily
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By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law
Effective January 18, 2017, U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division has implemented a final rule to update regulations concerning enforcement of employment-related anti-discrimination provisions under the “unfair immigration-related employment practices” section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
One of the most interesting changes is the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, usually referred to as Office of Special Counsel or OSC, is being renamed the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section. It will remain part of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. However, the individual in charge of the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section will still be referred to as Special Counsel due to statutory language. Thus, this may cause some confusion for attorneys and the public.
Probably the most significant change in the regulations is a definition of “discriminate” to clarify that an employer’s intent to discriminate must be based on national origin or citizenship status. This definition of intent does not consider what reason an employer may have had. Under the new rule, DOJ explains that if the employer is intentionally treating the permanent resident differently for an unlawful reason, such as citizenship status, then the employer has discriminated.
Other significant changes in the new regulations include:
Individuals who submit a discrimination claim within the 180-day period provided by law now have an additional 45 days to submit information if the Special Counsel decides that they did not provide enough information to meet the requirements for a “charge”;Charges may be filed after the 180-day time limit under certain circumstances;The Special Counsel may file a complaint based on an investigation the office initiated, up to five years after the date of alleged discrimination;Definition of the term “citizenship status” includes refugees and asylees, which is consistent with Special Counsel’s current practice;Definition of the statutory phrase – “more or different documents than required under such section” to be consistent with OCAHO case law;Definition of the term “charge” to make it broader as to what is acceptable; andDefinition of the term “hire”.
By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law
The Justice Department (DOJ) has charged four individuals with conspiring to submit more than 100 fake H-1B visa applications, a scheme aimed at creating a pool of workers to compete with U.S. staffing firms. The indictment alleges Venkat and Sunitha Guntipally, Pratap “Bob” Kondamoori and Sandhya Ramireddi used “deceit, craft, trickery, and dishonest means” in a scheme aimed at placing H-1B workers at temporary positions with companies that differed from the end-companies listed on the visa petitions. The charges are for the conspiracy visa fraud, false statements, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering, as well as the use of false documents and aiding and abetting the scheme. The maximum prison term for visa fraud is 10 years, while mail fraud and witness tampering both hold a maximum penalty of 20 years, according to the DOJ.
Between 2010 and 2014, DOJ said Venkat and Sunitha Guntipally used their employment-staffing companies DS Soft Tech and Equinett to sponsor temporary nonimmigrant workers for fraudulent H-1B applications for placements at companies that either didn’t exist or never received the proposed temporary workers, submitting fake documents to government agencies.
According to DOJ, DS Soft Tech and Equinett submitted approximately 22 separate petitions for H-1B workers to be placed at a company operated by Kondamoori called SemSolar Inc., and work on a product the defendants allegedly knew didn’t exist. None of those workers who received the temporary visas through the scheme ever worked at SemSolar.
DOJ also alleges Kondamoori used his company SISL Networks to petition for fake visas with his sister Ramireddi acting as the human resources and operations manager all three companies.
The Guntipallys, Kondamoori and Ramireddi are also facing charges for allegedly concealing and covering up the visa-scheme from the government through false statements to the DHS and other agencies, as well as tampering with witnesses by allegedly contacting multiple individuals who had received the fake visas and persuading them to give misleading statements to criminal investigators, the indictment said.