Two South Bay executives charged with fraud in obtaining visas for “specialized profession” | USAO-NDCA
SAN JOSE – Namrata Patnaik and Kartiki Parekh appeared in federal court today to face an indictment charging them both with visa fraud and conspiracy to commit visa fraud and further charging Patnaik money laundering charges, announced U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), San Francisco Field Office, Special Agent in Charge William Chang and Special Agent in Charge of Security Investigations Interior (HSI) Tatum King.
According to the indictment, PerfectVIPs, Inc. (PerfectVIPs) is headquartered in San Jose and incorporated in 2010 as a computer chip design products and services company. Patnaik, 42, a Saratoga resident, acted as CEO of PerfectVIPs. Parekh, 56, a Santa Clara resident, served as the company’s human resources director. The indictment accuses Patnaik and Parekh from 2011 to April 2017 of submitting fraudulent H-1B visa applications for foreign workers sponsored by PerfectVIPs and that Patnaik then laundered proceeds of visa fraud.
H-1B visas are issued through the United States government’s H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers program. With an H-1B visa, an employer can employ a foreign worker in a “specialty occupation” in the United States on a temporary, nonimmigrant basis. A skilled occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a specialized body of knowledge and requires the employee of the occupation to have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the relevant specialty. Each employer seeking an H-1B visa to employ a nonimmigrant alien worker is required to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Labor that certifies, among other things, working conditions and describes the existence, duration, and associated wages. to temporary employment. A subsequent request requires, among other information, the proposed foreign worker’s biographical data and identification of the address where the proposed foreign worker will work.
The indictment accuses Patnaik and Parekh from 2011 to April 2017 of submitting approximately 85 fraudulent H-1B visa applications for non-immigrant temporary workers sponsored by PerfectVIPs. Each application contained representations under penalty of perjury. During the process, Patnaik and Parekh submitted or caused to be submitted statements that the foreign workers would be employed by PerfectVIPs to work on PerfectVIPs internal contracts and projects at PerfectVIPs offices. Once the applications were approved, Patnaik and Parekh instead created a pool of H-1B workers who were placed in positions with other employers, not PerfectVIPs. This practice has provided PerfectVIPs with an unfair and illegal advantage over recruitment agencies. During the period of Patnaik and Parekh’s conspiracy, according to the indictment, the other employers paid PerfectVIPs nearly $7 million in fees to cover the cost of wages and salaries for H-1B workers as well as a profit boost for PerfectVIPs.
Patnaik and Parekh made their first appearances in federal court in San Jose today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael M. Cousins. Both defendants were ordered to appear in United States District Court in San Jose on April 12 at 9 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Beth L. Freeman.
The federal indictment charges both Patnaik and Parekh with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud in violation of 18 USC § 371 and two counts of visa fraud in violation of 18 USC § 1546. (at). The indictment also charges Patnaik with one count of money laundering in violation of 18 USC § 1957. The maximum statutory jail sentence for a violation of 18 USC § 371 is 5 years in prison. The maximum statutory jail term for each violation of 18 USC §§ 1546(a) and for a violation of 18 USC § 1957 is 10 years. Each of the offending statutes carries a maximum statutory fine of $250,000 or double the amount of gross gain or loss or, for money laundering, double the amount of criminal property involved. However, any sentence following a conviction would only be imposed by a court after review of the US Sentencing Guidelines and the federal law governing sentencing, 18 USC § 3553.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. As in any criminal case, these defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.
Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Griswold is pursuing the case with the help of Lynette Dixon. The charge was the result of an investigation by the DSS representative with the Document and Benefits Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), overseen by Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations of fraudulent immigration documents. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s National Security and Fraud Detection Office also participated in the investigation.