Does H-1B Fraud Lead to More Jail Time than the Hiring of Illegal Aliens?

By David North on September 8, 2017

An alert reader (thank you!) called my attention to a news article about someone being sentenced to jail for H-1B fraud. (This is the program for allegedly temporary employment of skilled alien workers, usually college grads.)

The article deals with an employer in New Jersey who pleaded guilty in a federal court to fraudulently misusing the H-1B program and was sentenced to six months in prison.

This led to one observation and several questions:

  • Employers are rarely sent to jail for violating the immigration law;
  • Although this is anecdotal, why do jail sentences seem to happen more frequently in the H-1B program than in employer sanctions cases (i.e., those involving the hiring of illegal aliens)?
  • Why do there seem to be so many Indian defendants in the H-1B fraud cases?
  • Why is the Indian expatriate press, in this case the California-based India West website, so much better at reporting these matters than the MSM? and
  • Why doesn't some PhD candidate do his or her dissertation on the subject of immigration law enforcement vis-a-vis employers? It would seem to be a ticket into a good job with the feds.

The instant case is like so many others that I have covered in the past (see here and here); it involves a person with an Indian name, Gupta this time, who applied for H-1B visas for (of course) other Indians, secured them, and then paid the workers only when they were working for other employers, with much visa fraud along the way.

Sanjay Gupta operated his firm out of Iselin, N.J., and filed his petitions with the Vermont Regional Center (a clearing house) of USCIS. Presumably because of some actions by that center, he wound up in the federal courts in Vermont. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced almost two years after the indictment. His PACER file can be found here.

I have been reading news items every day about immigration law enforcement for at least half a dozen years, and while this is not a scientific observation, I rarely hear about someone going to jail for hiring illegal aliens, though this is possible under federal law. I hear much more frequently than one might expect that someone is in trouble with the feds for H-1B violations, and sometime these cases involve time in jail, as in Mr. Gupta's case.

Now, given the fact that there are about 900,000 H-1Bs in the country at any one time, and about eight times as many illegal alien workers, why do I have the impression of more enforcement of the H-1B law, than of employer sanctions? At least proportionally? Not that there is much of either.

Given the numbers cited above, there should be roughly eight times as many employer sanctions court cases as H-1B ones. In both kinds of cases the employer is exploiting aliens, shouldering aside U.S. workers, and violating the INA. There would seem to be a moral equivalence here, one violation being as deplorable as the other.

Perhaps part of the answer to my earlier question comes with the answers to my third and fourth questions above: Why are so many people with Indian names indicted for H-1B fraud? And why is the Indian press so much better at reporting these things than the U.S. press?

The H-1B system is about as Indian as St. Patrick's Day is Irish. The H-1B employers are often from India, including the huge Indian outsourcing companies like Infosys and Tata; the HR people in IT firms are often from India; and, as we reported earlier, about 70 percent of the workers are from India (mostly from South India), so it is logical that the many of the crooks in the program would be Indians, too.

Then there is the Indian press, both on the subcontinent and here in the United States. Because emigration, notably emigration to the United States, is a very important subject there, the reporting on migration-related matters, legal and illegal, is much more prominent there than it is here.

Another part of the equation may be a nuance within law enforcement circles; perhaps there is a feeling among prosecutors that the straight-forward hiring of an illegal alien, particularly in agriculture and construction, appears to be less of a violation than the more complex and multi-layered fraud engaged in by Gupta. And, sadly, maybe some prosecutors identity more with the employers of illegals than they do with the employers misusing the H-1B program.