New York couple sentenced to 2 years, fined for H-1B visa fraud involving nurses

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A married couple from New York, Loreto Kudera, 45, and Hazel Kudera, 43, were sentenced to two years of probation and a $25,000 fine following their conviction in an immigration fraud scheme, involving hiring nurses on H-1B visa. The Kuderas previously paid a $1 million forfeiture penalty representing ill-gotten gains from the scheme.

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced the sentencing, on Wednesday.

On June 9, 2016, the Kuderas pleaded guilty to charges that they conspired to commit immigration fraud.

According to the public record, Hazel Kudera owns several medical staffing agencies in New York specializing in providing nursing professionals to hospitals, outpatient and skilled nursing facilities. She and her husband, Loreto Kudera, then a lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry Silberzweig, in New York, provided false and fraudulent information to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in St. Albans, Vermont when applying for H1-B visas for foreign nurses.

Working as a general RN or LPN is not considered a specialty occupation by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Knowing this, Hazel Kudera and Loreto Kudera falsely stated that these foreign nurses, mostly from the Philippines, would be working in specialty occupations at prevailing wage rates when, in fact, they were going to work as LPNs or RNs at much lower rates, mostly at nursing homes.

Hazel Kudera and Loreto Kudera profited from this scheme from the filing fees they collected from the beneficiaries as well as from the health care facilities which were paying fees to the medical staffing agencies owned by Hazel Kudera. The Kuderas admitted that they submitted 100 or more fraudulent petitions as part of their scheme. As a result of their convictions, the Kuderas also forfeited $1 million.

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