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Employment Fraud Still Majorly Affecting OPT and H1B Employees

In the Spring of 2020, thousands of individuals on OPT, STEM-OPT, and H1B faced panic and fear as ICE cracked down on massive immigration fraud schemes. A handful of U.S. companies committed widespread fraud by issuing fake job offer letters to those who needed to prove employment to USCIS in order to maintain their immigration statuses. Some of these companies were AzTech, Integra Technologies, Wireclass, Andwill, FindDream, and Sinocontech. These companies offered job offer letters, fake payroll, and gave the illusion that the employee was working a legitimate job in their authorized field. Although these companies were registered LLCs and tricked USCIS for several years, the government eventually caught on that these companies, which offered employment to thousands, were simply small offices in rundown strip malls, issuing fraudulent paperwork for the purpose of committing immigration fraud. Sometimes the companies offered actual employment, but in a field that the employee was not authorized to work in. Most often, however, there was no job at all.

What drove so many individuals to get involved with such companies? Many people were taken advantage of by these companies and did not know their true fraudulent intentions. They paid fees to the companies with the promise of receiving “employment training,” but the employers disappeared after receiving payment. However, others knew the operations were fake, but felt they had no other choice. Many people found themselves in desperate situations and thought there was no other way to maintain their statuses. F1 students during their OPT periods and H1B workers must find employment within a narrow time frame. USCIS does not give much time for these individuals to secure a job, even though many find it very difficult to find employment within just a few months. Many search for jobs for months but are repeatedly turned down, despite having a college education and being highly-skilled. However, when these individuals (mostly Chinese and Indian), became involved with one of the above-mentioned companies, a major problem was resolved for them – the clock stopped ticking on their deadline to find a job and they could maintain their status. This gave them peace of mind and more time to find legitimate employment.

However, eventually the government caught on. Thousands panicked when their visas were revoked and USCIS issued Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for any applicant who was ever involved with one of the fraudulent companies, even if only briefly involved. Other people who were outside the country at this time were detained and sent back to their home countries when attempting to fly back into the U.S. Rumors of mass deportations spread among immigrant communities and everyone feared the possibility of losing everything they had worked for in the U.S.

Since then, USCIS, ICE, and CBP have jointly worked to expose this kind of immigration fraud. After the government announced that it had discovered the mass fraud, the companies abandoned the employees. They did not answer phone calls or emails and ceased all communication with the employees. Some employers have since been arrested and sentenced to time in federal prison. Still, the immigrant employees still also face consequences, such as arrest, deportation, and permanent bars from the U.S. Some were able to convince USCIS that they were not aware of the fraudulent activity, or they were able to get a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, many were not so lucky. Many more who were involved wait anxiously for the government to identify them.

This news was big in 2020, so why are we addressing this issue now? There are two main reasons for us to discuss this now. Firstly, even though this was big news almost two years ago, people are still being identified by USCIS today. When these individuals attempt to extend, change, or adjust their statuses – even years later – USCIS targets them and issues harsh RFEs. The individual is then required to prove to USCIS that their employment was legitimate, but most are unable to provide any evidence. If you have ever been employed by one of the above-mentioned companies, or been involved in a similar situation, we highly advise you to speak to a licensed immigration attorney before filing any applications with USCIS. Even though you have gone unnoticed until now, you will likely be caught once you file an application with USCIS.

Our second reason for addressing this issue now is to warn others not to become involved with any such organization that offers fraudulent offer letters or job experience. There are many smaller operations which still exist and have not been caught yet. Do not do any business with them. Do not give them any money and do not rely on them for stopping the clock on your deadline to find employment. The truth is that many have gotten away with this for years. Many of those people went unnoticed by the government and perhaps they have already received green cards, or even citizenship by now. However, the risk and consequences of getting caught are severe and will impact your future in the U.S. The government has identified these schemes and is dedicated to catching such activity. Even people who work for completely legitimate companies have been audited and forced to prove their employment. It is very likely that if you try to use a fake offer letter now, you will be caught. If you are struggling to find employment within the allotted time frame, please speak to a licensed immigration attorney before seeking assistance from a fake company.

Promising futures of working and living in the United States have been destroyed by this type of fraud. We know that you have worked hard and spent a lot of money to get to where you are now, and it will be wasted if you are caught being involved in such an immigration scheme. Please review this message carefully if you are considering paying for a fraudulent job offer letter or working for a company which misrepresents your job duties to USCIS.

Disclaimer

This article aims to provide new information. This article, under no circumstances, acts as legal advice; therefore, for any immigration questions, please contact your Attorney or the Ahluwalia Law Offices, P.C. (Team ALO).

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