December 13, 2011
An Ohio business owner received a nine-month prison sentence from a federal district judge in Dayton last month, according to a press release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The man, 47 year-old Amarnath Trichy, was accused of filing false labor certification applications and employment-based immigration petitions for non-existent jobs with a fictitious company. His legitimate business, Recursive Technologies, Inc. (RTI) apparently developed a software project in 2005, called MEDBPO, intended to produce software to maintain electronic patient medical files. The company was never actually established, but Trichy reportedly filed multiple documents with the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of MEDBPO beginning in 2005, and continuing for about five years, certifying a need for immigrant workers for positions U.S. citizens could not fill.
The first step for an employer in bringing a foreign worker to the United States, with the intention of obtaining legal permanent resident status, is to apply for “labor certification” from the Department of Labor. The employer must certify that, after a reasonably extensive recruitment process, it cannot find suitable U.S. workers for the position. The immigrant worker must not displace available U.S. workers by law. The wage offered to the immigrant must also meet certain standards set by the Department of Labor, as a means of trying to prevent immigrant labor driving down wages for other workers. The employer must demonstrate that it is financially sound enough to pay the proposed wage.
Officials alleged that Trichy would interview applicants for non-existent jobs with MEDBPO, and would demand payment of $1,500 to $2,000 from job applicants in exchange for assistance with their visa petitions. He filed as many as 248 petitions with the Department of Labor, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved at least 26 visas for immigrant workers for his company.
The Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General investigated irregularities in Trichy’s case, along with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division. Federal officials charged Trichy with fraud and misuse of official documents. He pleaded guilty to one count on December 14, 2010. The judge in the Dayton federal district court issued his sentence on November 1, 2011.
Federal criminal statutes treat the offense of “fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents” very seriously. The federal criminal code makes it a crime to knowingly forge or falsify any official immigration document. Penalties vary based on the defendant’s intent. The statute sets aside a specific penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment for fraudulent acts committed as part of a plan to unlawfully employ immigrant labor.
ICE’s press release does not say what will happen to the immigrants who came to the United States, ostensibly legally, through one of Trichy’s petitions. Since they were compelled to pay him for his assistance in preparing the immigration applications, it could be argued that they are also victims of his fraudulent activities. Unfortunately, as immigration remains a complex and difficult process and the job market remains sparse, opportunists will occasionally seek to engage in these sorts of schemes. It underscores the critical importance for honest employers of immigrants to know the law.
Ohio immigration visa lawyer Gus Shihab represents employers seeking to employ immigrant workers and job seekers who wish to come here to work. For a free and confidential consultation, contact him through his website or at 877-479-4USA (4872).More Blog Posts
H-1B Visa Cap Reached Today, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, November 23, 2011
Design Changes, Meant to Improve Security and Fight Fraud, are Coming for Employment and Citizenship Forms, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, November 2, 2011
Fear of Crackdown on Undocumented Immigrant Hits Ohio Farms, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, October 24, 2011<