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Indian-American couple from Rochester, N.Y. charged with H-1B visa fraud and money laundering

An Indian-American couple in upstate New York, has been arrested and charged with visa fraud, money laundering, false statements, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Anjaneyulu Katam and Mahalakshmi Cheruvu, of Rochester, NY, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York James P. Kennedy, Jr. The charges, announced by Kennedy, carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, a Nov. 30, press release said. The criminal charges are  merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

According to the complaint, between 2011 and 2016, Katam and Cheruvu ran businesses in which they allegedly falsified immigration documents for Indian nationals to enter the U.S. and work in tech industries involving computer programming.

The husband and wife allegedly manipulated the H-1B visa program, which allows U.S. employers temporarily to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

The complaint states that Katam and Cheruvu falsified visa applications, work experience documents and work contracts, which they then submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State, in order to secure H-1B visas for Indian nationals. Their efforts resulted in the unlawful entry and employment of several Indian nationals within the United States, authorities alleged.

The defendants made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Feldman and were released on conditions not specified in the press release.