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  1. Four Charged in H-1B Visa Fraud Scheme

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    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.
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