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  1. Owner of Queens Medical Employment Agency Indicted for H-1B Visa Fraud Conspiracy

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law




    A federal grand jury has returned an indictment against Rena Beduya Avendula, the owner and managing executive of Professional Placement & Recruitment, Inc. (PPRI) of Woodside, NY, charging her with a visa fraud scheme that brought Filipino citizens into the United States for financial profit. Avendula is charged with five counts of visa fraud and with conspiring to defraud the United States, commit visa fraud and illegally bring undocumented individuals into the United States.

    As alleged in the indictment, Avendula engaged in a scheme from October 2009 to February 2015 to bring Filipino citizens into the United States illegally by fraudulently claiming to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the foreign nationals would be employed in “specialty occupations,” thereby qualifying for H-1B visas. Avendula used PPRI to further her visa fraud scheme. PPRI specialized in providing nursing care to elderly patients. Avendula, in an effort to secure some of the limited number of H-1B visas that are available each year, falsely stated that foreign nurses would be working in specialized nursing at prevailing wage rates. In fact, they were going to work as licensed practical nurses or RNs at significantly lower rates of pay, mostly at nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Generally, registered RNs typically do not qualify as beneficiaries for H-1B visas.

    The H-1B nonimmigrant visa classification allows foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily for the specific purpose of working for the employer in a “specialty occupation.” A “specialty occupation” requires certain specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher-level degree for entry into the occupation within the United States labor market.

    As alleged in the indictment, PPRI sponsored dozens of fraudulent applications and profited from the filing fees she collected from the nurses and from the health care facilities that paid PPRI.

    If convicted, Avendula faces a statutory maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment for the visa fraud charges, and 10 years’ imprisonment for each foreign national she induced to reside in the United States in connection with the visa fraud conspiracy.
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