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A U.S. employer’s representative has pleaded guilty to running an H-1B visa scam targeting foreign students whose visas were set to expire and who apparently were seeking a follow-on employer sponsor who would enable them to remain in the United States and work.

 The employer representative, Srinivas Doppalapudi, 45,  a U.S. permanent resident originally from India, pleaded guilty last week in the District Court of Delaware – Wilmington to visa fraud and money laundering in connection with his scam.  The guilty plea and case developments were described in reports from multiple news outlets (e.g. http://www.wgmd.com/?p=60424, http://www.indiaamericatoday.com/article/no-bail-indian-national-us-visa-fraud-sentencing-september; http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot.be/2012/06/indian-national-who-is-guilty-of-visa.html).

Between 2007 and 2010, Mr. Doppalapudi had submitted 33 H-1B visa applications to the U.S. federal government, telling USCIS and the Department of Labor he had jobs for the foreign workers, when in fact he had no such jobs and never paid required wages upon obtaining H-1B petition approvals. Federal authorities traced wire transfers totaling more than $1 million from his bank accounts in the U.S. to an account in India during this same period.

Mr. Doppalapudi faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for September, according to reports.

With the H-1B cap exhausted for Fiscal Year 2012, and the next round of H-1Bs not being available until Oct. 1, 2013, foreign students will be scrambling for alternative means to remain in the U.S. and continue their work experience. Such foreign nationals are particularly vulnerable to scams. If you are a worker who suspects you may be a victim of H-1B- fraud or other employment-visa fraud, you should speak with a competent attorney about your rights and options.

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