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H-1B visa racket busted in US, 11 Indians arrested

Feb 14, 2009 10:10 AM IST India India

New York: A Federal Grand Jury has indicted 11 people, all of them of Indian-origin, in six states on H-1B visa fraud charges, and an information technology company called Vision Systems Group.

Vision Systems Group is based in New Jersey, but it has an Iowa office in Coon Rapids.

Federal law enforcement accuses Vision Systems Group of defrauding the US government, and ultimately costing American workers computer jobs.

"What we found here is that some folks have found some ways to make misrepresentations to the government that disadvantage American workers who did not have the opportunity to apply for the real jobs that existed," says US Citizenship and Immigration Services official Michael Aytes.

The Fed say Vision Systems Group sponsored highly-skilled foreign computer workers through a temporary professional worker visa.

The US grants H-1B visas if companies meet stringent conditions. The companies must justify the need, disclose the job's exact location and pay a locally prevailing wage.

US Department of Labor records showed that in 2004, Vision Systems Group sought the government's permission to hire foreign workers as programmer analysts in Coon Rapids at a $38,000 starting salary.

The same job listing for the same company that same year in Somerset, New Jersey started from $40 to $47,000, which was $2,000 to $9,000 higher.

The indictment accuses Vision Systems of obtaining the government's permission to import I-T workers to Coon Rapids at a locally acceptable salary.

But the Fed said that in reality, Vision Systems sent those employees to California or New Jersey, paying them the lower salary tailored for Coon Rapids.

"I think it directly affects American workers. I think you could look at these locations where these workers were, and that they probably displaced qualified American workers because they were working at a lower wage than the prevailing wage of that location," said US Attorney Matthew Whitaker.