Hiral Patel (34), HR Manager for SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an information charging her with conspiracy to obstruct justice related to a H1B visa fraud scheme.
According to the court documents:
SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. offered consultants to clients in need of IT support. Both companies recruited foreign nationals, often student visa holders or recent college graduates, and sponsored them for H-1B visas. The H-1B program allows businesses in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers with specialized or technical expertise in a particular field, such as accounting, engineering or computer science.
Patel’s conspirators recruited foreign workers with purported IT expertise who sought work in the United States. The conspirators then sponsored the foreign workers’ H-1B visas with the stated purpose of working for SCM Data and MMC Systems’ clients throughout the United States. When submitting the visa paperwork to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS), the conspirators represented that the foreign workers had full-time positions and were paid an annual salary, as required to secure the visas.
Contrary to these representations and in violation of the H-1B program, the conspirators paid the foreign workers only when they were placed at a third-party client who entered into a contract with SCM Data or MMC Systems. The conspirators told the foreign workers who were not currently working that if they wanted to maintain their H-1B visa status, they would need to come up with what their gross wages would be in cash and give it to SCM Data and MMC Systems so the companies could issue payroll checks to the foreign workers.
The conspirators then encouraged the foreign workers to submit the bogus payroll checks to USCIS as proof that the workers were engaged in full-time work despite the fact that they were not working for the companies. Once the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) launched an audit of SCM Data and MMC Systems, the conspirators fabricated leave or vacation slips to USDOL for the time periods that the foreign workers were not working to conceal the fact that they were not paid during those time periods as required by federal law.
Hiral Patel admitted that she was involved in preparing false leave slips for the foreign workers on behalf of SCM Data and MMC Systems in response to an US Department of Labor audit in February and March 2015.
Patel faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Hiral Patel’s sentencing is scheduled for June 1, 2017.
U.S. Attorney for District of New Jersey named Sowrabh Sharma of New York (owner), Sunila Dutt of Ashburn, VA (Immigration Attorney), Shikha Mohta of Jersey City (Head of Finance), and Hari Kanne of India (Immigration Manager) of SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc. as co-conspirators in the H1-B Visa fraud scheme.
Sowrabh Sharma and Shikha Mohta have been charged with conspiring to commit visa fraud and harboring aliens in September 2016.