“Bench and Switch” Scheme Brings H-1B Workers from India
It’s no secret that the H-1B visa program is vulnerable to abuse. One of the more blatant examples of this was perpetrated by Cloudgen, a Houston, Texas-based consulting and strategic solutions company.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery recently announced that Cloudgen had pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit visa fraud from March 2013 to December 2020. The company recruited IT workers from India, falsely procuring H-1B visas for them.
In a “bench and switch” scheme, the company would file documents with the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) containing fraudulent statements about the availability of work at third-party national employers. Cloudgen would then submit forged contracts stating each third-party company had a job for each Indian worker. Next, based on those false documents, Cloudgen would submit paperwork to get H-1B visas for the workers.
Because their jobs were fake, the workers would be housed in different locations across the country while Cloudgen obtained other employment for them. This scheme gave Cloudgen a competitive advantage by having a steady “bench” or supply of visa-ready workers to send to different employers. Once workers had obtained new employment, the “switch” would occur when the new third-party company filed immigration paperwork for the workers.
Cloudgen took a percentage of the worker’s salary as its fees, earning almost $500,000 in profits through the scheme.
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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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