H-1B Visa denied, 70 Indians take legal action against US government
A group of nearly 70 Indian nationals have been denied their H-1B visa by the American government. They received no prior notice from the D.
According to the report by Bloomberg Law, almost 70 Indian nationals are suing the American government for denying them the H-1B visa because of alleged fraud perpetrated by their employers.
The graduates were employed through a training program for foreign graduates of US colleges and universities.
In the lawsuit filed in a Washington state federal district court, they claim that they didn't knowingly engage in the fraud despite their employer's actions.
Yet they were unfairly punished for being associated with those businesses, without being given a chance to respond.
Now that they have employment at legitimate businesses, the Department of Homeland Security has still denied the workers the H-1B speciality occupation visas.
“The agency assumed that anybody who had touched these companies was somehow guilty of fraudulent misrepresentations to the US government in an attempt to get a visa or immigration benefit,” said Jonathan Wasden, a Wasden Law attorney who’s representing the plaintiffs.
The workers are asking the court to overturn the DHS's judgment and order the agency to reconsider their decision about their admittance to the US after giving them an opportunity to reply to the fraud claims.
Additionally, the agency violated the Administrative Procedure Act by exceeding it's authority and deeming the plaintiffs as inadmissible without having a full record of evidence.
Also, it didn't follow the procedure as none of them were notified of the action being taken against them, the complaint said.
The Fraudulent Scheme
F-1 visas allow foreign students to work in the US for up to a year, after graduating or three years if they have a STEM degree, through a program known as Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Many international students take part in this program to kickstart their careers as they try to secure an H-1B visa or any other longer status.
The plaintiffs in the suit worked for four IT staffing companies- Andwill Technologies, AzTech Technologies LLC, Integra Technologies LLC, and WireClass Technologies LLC. Each of these was approved to participate in OPT and was certified through the E-Verify employment verification program.
It was later that DHS discovered the companies' scheme to defraud the government, schools and foreign national students, said the lawsuit.
“Rather than protect the students, however, DHS later sought to sanction them as if they were co-conspirators who knowingly participated in the fraudulent operation.”
After the denial, the plaintiffs were required to leave the country and apply for a visa at US consular office, which demands that they seek relief with DHS- and they had no forum to do so.
‘Mistake made by someone else’
“If I made a mistake, I would accept it. It was a mistake made by someone else,” he said in an interview. “The US has given me a lot of opportunities that now I cannot use.”
Plaintiff Siddhartha Kalavala Venkata worked at Integra through OPT, post completing a master's degree in 2016 at the New York Institute of Technology. The company was one of the largest participants in the training program.
The company turned out to be a fraud in the initial days. While the employees were promised to work on projects for The Walt Disney Co. and Apple Inc., but later asked them to pay for the degradation of their skills.
Even though Siddhartha left the company within months, when he applied for the H-1B visa, he was denied by DHS for being a fraud.
“I was in complete pain after learning that I couldn't enter the US,” he said.