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Fake visa agents eating into H1B quota

Jun 29, 2007 03:24 AM IST Business Business

New Delhi: Most IT professional in India aspire for a US job and dollar salaries. But working in US requires one to clear the stringent Visa requirements, one of which is to find an employer first, who is ready to take your case to the US consulate. However, finding an employer in United States who is willing to hire an individual Indian IT worker and get into the legal work of obtaining a work permit for him is not an easy task. So, there are numerous Visa agents and consultants in India that help these elusive H1B Visa seekers get the work permit/H1B Visa through fraudulent means. Newspapers and websites are filled with luring advertisements that claim to get an H1B Visa for a price tag. CNN-IBN correspondent Payal Goel and Bikas Mishra posed as a H1B Visa seeker and headed to one such consultant. They were shocked to discover a range of services on offer. “We will get you a fake employer who will file for your H1B Visa. We will show a proper company owned and operated by a US citizen that will apply for your work permit,” the Visa agent was caught saying on the hidden camera. So what happens once I get there? "Once these fake employers get an H1B Visa with a work permit, he will give you a NOC saying you can work with any other employer. Your job of landing up in US with a work permit is done,” said the agent. Going by the proper procedure, even if you find an employer, individuals cannot petition for their H1B Visas. To get this 6-year long work permit to the US, an employer petitions for its foreign employee for a specific job. But using the fraudulent route, the so-called visa consultants are able to get H1b Visas for their clients who practically do not yet have a job offer. The US government too admits such frauds are rampant. Last year alone they found 2,000 Indian applications that were of dubious nature and hence the individuals were sent back for reconsideration. “We have found that Hyderabad and Bangalore are centers of H1B visa fraud. It is extremely easy to just walk into someone who rather forthrightly tells you he can produce anything to appear to make you qualify an H1B Visa. In fact our employees conducted search operations and queried various agents office,” said Glen Keiser, Consular Section Chief, US Consulate, Mumbai Genuine IT companies with operations in the US are bearing the brunt of such frauds. Last year, companies like Wipro and Infosys applied for 20,000 H1B Visas each. However due to a cap of 65,000 on these visas, and many of it being taken by fraud applicants, these companies could manage only about 25% of their requirement. (With inputs from Bikas Mishra)