Washington: Four Indian-American executives were held by the US police over charges of committing H-1B visa fraud to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors.

The men named Vijay Mane, 39, Venkataramana Mannam, 47, and Fernando Silva, 53, from New Jersey while Sateesh Vemuri, 52, from California were each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, the Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

All of them had appeared before the US federal court and were released on $250,000 bond. Notably, the conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

To expedite their visa applications, the defendants caused Procure and Krypto to file H-1B applications falsely asserting that the foreign worker/beneficiaries had already secured positions at Client A, when, in reality, no such positions existed, federal prosecutors alleged.

Instead, they used these fraudulent applications to build a bench of job candidates already admitted to the United States, who could then be hired out immediately to client companies without the need to wait through the visa application process, giving the defendants an advantage over their competitors in the staffing industry.

H-1B visa allows US companies to hire foreign workers temporarily in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

(With agency inputs)