The Nanda brothers were each sentenced by Chief US District Judge Barbara MG Lynn to 87 months in federal prison. Each was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and four counts of wire fraud. The brothers, who were convicted last year, and have been on bond, were remanded to the custody of the US Marshals Service.
“The H-1B visa program is a powerful and positive tool for businesses and foreign workers alike when properly used. When employers abuse the program, the foreign workers become a captive stable of cheap labor, victimized to the company’s financial benefit,” said US Attorney John Parker, in a statement.
According to the Justice Department, the Nanda brothers committed visa fraud from approximately March 2005 to February 2011, to secure a low-cost workforce at their information technology consulting company headquartered in Carrollton, Texas.
Dibon Solutions is an information technology consulting company located on Chenault Drive in Carrollton; it is a family operation created by the Nanda family. Atul and Jiten Nanda created, established and ran the corporation that they used to commit fraud through the H1-B visa program.
The H-1B visa program allows businesses in the U.S., such as Dibon, to temporarily employ foreign workers with specialized or technical expertise in a particular field such as accounting, engineering or computer science.
The government presented evidence at trial that as part of their scheme, the Nanda brothers recruited foreign workers with expertise who wanted to work in the U.S. They sponsored the workers’ H-1B visa with the stated purpose of working at Dibon headquarters in Carrolton, but, in fact, did not have an actual position at the time they were recruited and knew the workers would ultimately provide consulting services to third-party companies located throughout the U.S.
Contrary to representations made by the conspirators to the workers (and the government), Jay and Atul Nanda directed that the workers only be paid for time spent working at a third-party company and only if the third-party company actually first paid Dibon for the workers’ services. Additionally, in Dibon’s visa paperwork, the conspirators falsely represented that the workers had full-time positions and were paid an annual salary, as required by regulation to secure the visas.
This scheme, according to evidence presented at trial, provided the conspirators with a labor pool of inexpensive, skilled foreign workers who could be used on an “as needed” basis. The scheme was profitable because it required minimal overhead and Dibon could charge significant hourly rates for a computer consultant’s services. Thus, the Nandas, as Dibon’s owners, earned a substantial profit margin when a consultant was assigned to a project and incurred few costs when a worker was without billable work. This scheme is known as “benching.” Dibon actively recruited H-1B workers for the “bench.”
The government presented further evidence that the Nandas required the H-1B visa candidates to pay the processing fees that the law requires to be paid by the company. The evidence at trial showed that the Nandas attempted to hide this by having the H-1B candidates pay the fees directly to Dibon either with cash or a check written to “Dibon Training Center.”
This story was originally published on The American Bazaar.