NEWARK, N.J. – Four executives of two information technology staffing companies have been arrested and charged with alleged fraudulent use of the H-1B visa program to gain an unfair advantage over competitors.
United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito announced July 2, (2019) that Vijay Mane, 39, of Princeton, New Jersey; Venkataramana Mannam, 47, of Edison, New Jersey; Fernando Silva, 53, of Princeton; and Sateesh Vemuri, 52, of San Jose, California, are each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Vemuri made his initial appearance July 1, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion in Newark federal court. Mannam and Silva appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court on June 25, Mane appeared before Judge Wettre on June 27. All were released on $250,000 bond.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The accused are innocent until proved guilty.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court which are outlined in the press release, Mane, Mannam, and Vemuri controlled two IT staffing companies in Middlesex County, New Jersey – Procure Professionals Inc. and Krypto IT Solutions Inc.
Silva and Mannam also controlled another New Jersey staffing company, referred to in the complaint as “Client A.”
The accusations allege that the defendants used Procure and Krypto to allegedly recruit foreign nationals and sponsor them for H-1B visas, which allow recipients to live and work temporarily in the U.S. in positions requiring specialized skills.
Prosecutors say that to expedite their visa applications, the accused allegedly had the companies falsely assert that the foreign worker/beneficiaries had already secured positions at Client A, when, in reality, no such positions existed.
Instead, the accusations allege, the defendants used these allegedly fraudulent applications to build a “bench” of job candidates already admitted to the United States, who could then be hired out immediately to client companies without the need to wait through the visa application process, giving the defendants an advantage over their competitors in the staffing industry.