Indian American CEO charged with H-1B visa fraud

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Indian American Pradyumna Kumar Samal of Redmond, Washington, has been charged with visa fraud for hiring more than 100 foreign workers from India over between 2012 and 2017 and acquired H-1B visas through falsified documents.

According to a Seattle Times report, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington alleges Samal of using a tactic called “bench-and-switch,” to acquire and approve H-1B visas for IT workers.

137 visa applications were even approved and they indicated that a worker was needed for a specific project for a client which also included confirmation letters from the clients themselves.

Samal is the CEO of the technology firms Divensi and Azimetry, which act as contracting firms for big tech companies in the region and hire engineers to assign to projects at client companies.

However, these projects do not exist and the letter were not even written by the clients while Samal included the project on the applications for a faster approval.

It turns out that when the worker came to the U.S., they would be assigned to a different project, according to court documents.

Diane Butler, Samal’s attorney, has spoke against the allegations saying that a worker’s project often changes between the time they apply for an H-1B visa and the time they arrive in the country and start working, according to the Seattle Times report.

Workers were also told that they would have to pay a partially-refundable fee of up to $5,000.

H-1B visas are the most competitive and sought after in the tech industry as they are three-year work visas, which allow companies to bring in foreign workers with high-tech skills and are limited under an annual quota and are subject to a lottery each year.

Divensi filed 390 applications for H-1B visas in 2016, which was the fifth-highest application tally in Washington after Microsoft, Amazon, Infosys and HCL America.

According to court documents, Samal regularly reviewed application material before it was submitted and instructed his employees to “market” the potential visa holders to other clients; he was arrested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on August 28 while he was returning from a business trip to India.

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