Jag Venugopal's Blog

November 9, 2009

US Consulate warns visa aspirants

Filed under: India,Information Technology — Jag @ 5:46 pm

Its open knowledge that the H1B visa offers significant opportunities for fraud. Now the US Consulate in Chennai has finally taken notice, with its warning to visa seekers.

Visa fraud is so rampant, that anyone either Stateside in the USCIS or in the consulates can pick out fraud cases all day without stirring from their desks. Some examples that I’ve come across:

  • The 80/20 or 90/10 scam: “Consulting” companies in the US will offer to do  your H1B and Green Card paperwork for you, run payroll, and generally give you legal cover in exchange for 10-20% of your billing rate. What makes this scam illegal is that there is no real job. The consultant creates a fake job to get you in. Then, you find your own consulting gig on Dice.com or similar sites, and have your “consultant” do the billing. If you’re on the bench and you need to show income, then just hand your “consultant” a bunch of money that he will then run through the payroll system and hand back to you.
  • Fake experience: You can find any number of screen printers in Chennai and Bangalore who are expert at creating fake experience letters on absolutely-perfect looking letterheads. And if someone does attempt to verify, just give them a friend or cousin’s phone number. When they call, your relative can verify your fake credentials easily.
  • Bank statements: There is a requirement when obtaining an F-1 visa to show a sufficient amount of money to support yourself in the US. This is easily taken care of by a very short term loan from the neighborhood shylock.

Ultimately what’s shocking is not the fact that the US Consulate thought it fit to write a rather stern open letter. What is shocking is that so few cases are prosecuted, either at the USCIS or the Consulate level. All that an interested USCIS enforcement officer has to do is to browse over to sulekha.com, look at the classifieds all day, and start shutting these operations down one at a time. At consulates, an easy way to detect fraud — check to see if the degree matches the job. Someone with a Bachelor of Arts or Commerce or Bachelor of Science in Zoology asking for an H1B for an IT job should set alarm bells ringing fairly easily.


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