Work Permit Fraud Boosts Hidden Workforce of Illegal Professionals

MOHALI, INDIA: TO GO WITH "INDIA-IT-OUTSOURCING" Indian employees of the Quark call center work during their night shift, late 09 May 2005 in Mohali, in India's northern state of Punjab. Bangalore may be better known to people outside of India as the place where customer calls from around the world …
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The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly warned at least 200 Indian college graduates that it knows their “Optional Practical Training” work permits were gained by fraud at storefront companies, says an Indian lawyer.

But the failure to deport the Indians shows the weak federal response to a growing problem of illegal immigrant professionals, Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Breitbart News.

“This is not like the stereotypical illegal alien washing dishes or mowing lawns,” she said. “They are in office complexes in the suburbs, working under the radar … in the kinds of jobs that U.S. college grads could take,” she said.

When American graduates are denied starter jobs, she said, “they can flounder as a young person when they should be embarking on a career.”

Most illegals and asylum-seeking migrants work in blue-collar jobs where they cut wages for working-class American employes and provide cheap services to wealthier Americans.

But white-collar Americans are increasingly being hit by illegal and semi-legal immigration.

A few million illegal professionals are working in U.S. white-collar jobs after overstaying their visas, Vaughan said. Many additional foreign graduates enter the U.S. legally with B-1 visitor visas and then work illegally. This shadow workforce adds to the legal workforce of roughly 1.3 million foreign contract employees — including OPT recipients — in Fortune 500 white-collar jobs.

The news about the 200 Indians was broken by Rahul Reddy, an Indian immigrant lawyer who works closely with many Indian staffing companies in the ITServe trade association.

The “students, most from India, have received notification from a U.S. consulate [in India] that their visa has been revoked,” said a post by Reddy. “These students have used experience letters from Integra Technologies, LLC and AZTech Technologies, LLC in order to obtain the OPT, STEM Extension, or in some cases CPT [Curricular Practical Training] work authorization,” Reddy wrote.

He said the two companies made money by selling fraudulent job offers to the Indians:

We have found that these two companies have charged money from the prospective employees for giving [OPT] employment letters and in some instances, they have taken money to sign the I-983 training plan for submission to the DSO [university manager] in order to obtain the I-120 [document] so that students can file for their [two-year] STEM [visa] extension.

The job offers are valuable because they allow the Indians to get the OPT work permits they need to get real jobs at other companies.

The Delaware-based companies got good workplace ratings at Indeed.com.

DHS data shows that the Integra and AZTech companies claimed to have hired about 4,600 Indian migrants in 2017 and 2018 via the Optional Practical Training (OPT) pipeline. Their OPT numbers placed them in the top ten list of OPT-hiring companies, alongside Amazon, Intel, and Microsoft.
Reddy investigated the two companies because his Indian clients were asking for legal advice about the notifications they were getting from DHS.

So far, DHS has not moved to deport the Indians, or even to revoke their work permits, Reddy told Breitbart News. Two migrants were denied permission to reenter the country, he said.

“Until now, none of these people have been terminated from the SEVIS [government student database] system,” he said. “They may do it; no one knows why they have not done it,” he said. All of the Indian clients are engineers, Reddy said.

Under federal rules, foreigners who graduate from a U.S university with a technology degree can get three-year work permits and tax breaks to help them get the jobs U.S. graduates of the same university need. The programs earn roughly $40 billion for universities each year.

OPT and CPT are semi-legal programs. They were created by White House officials via the questionable 1324(a) regulation, not by Congress.

The CPT and OPT programs transfer new wealth to coastal cities. They shift the wealth because they reward investors who hire subsidized tech workers for jobs in expensive coastal cities, thereby reducing the marketplace pressure to spread the wealth by hiring workers for satellite offices in the non-coastal cities and towns.

In 2018, more than 500,000 foreign graduates and students had work permits for U.S. jobs. That population is somewhat fewer than the 600,000 foreigners who now hold jobs via the H-1B pipeline.

In comparison, approximately 800,000 Americans graduated that year with degrees in health care, business, engineering, science, software, math, or architecture.

The alleged OPT fraud was exposed in March 2019 when Breitbart News spotlighted the unfamiliar companies in DHS data released by Francis Cissna, then the head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. Breitbart News reported:

For example, Integra Technologies got almost 2,600 OPT workers in 2017, far more than Intel’s haul of 1,700 OPT graduates or Google’s 1,500 graduates, according to the USCIS data. The firm includes many Indians, according to LinkedIn reports, and is run by Indian-born Abhijeet Chakraborty.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Chakraborty said:

“Firstly, this is a very old data which you are referring to and from then onwards the entire scenario got changed specially in our case.

On that particular time frame we needed to hire different skill set candidates for our various on board projects as instructed by our Business Development Managers of that time and we hired mixed bag candidates irrespective of their citizen status.

Then onwards (Probably since mid of 2018) we started to loose on the projects and faced huge monetary losses and as a result we stopped hiring because we don’t require any.

Just to let you know that Currently Integra Technologies not hiring any candidates as we don’t have any big project in hand but somehow we manage to stay in the market as a small company and fighting for our survival.

Please wish us luck so that we can come up again with some big projects where we can create job opportunity for all kind of students including American Graduates.”

The companies’ phone numbers are no longer working. An email sent to Integra did not receive a response:

According to Reddy, Integra and AZTech Technologies shared the same address.

Reddy says Indians have also pointed to another suspect company, Andwill LLC, which has removed its webpage.

“There is a massive flaw in our enforcement system if people who are known to have committed fraud have not lost their jobs” and been sent home, said Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations at NumbersUSA. “If their visas have been canceled or not renewed, they are illegal aliens, so we have a massive lack of enforcement for not removing them from the country.”

“Every American who graduates this year with a degree should be outraged,” she said. “We have tens of millions of Americans out of work, and nobody cares there are these illegal aliens who committed fraud, who don’t have authority to work in the United States, and yet who are still here?”

The growing population of illegal professionals hides amid the growing population of illegal immigrants, legal contract workers, and legal immigrants.

The illegal professionals can also hide as gig workers in the many contract companies that provide a growing percentage of the labor used by Fortune 500 companies. The illegal professionals also tend to hold back-office jobs that do not need professional licensing, such as software maintenance, said Vaughan.

ICE does not have enough officers to exclude the illegal professionals or even to deal with the Indians who are known to be part of the Integra and AZTech companies, she said, adding:

ICE would have to find them, which it probably could do, and arrest them. But then the [Indians] would be entitled to an immigration court hearing, and so ICE would have to decide “Do I do keep them in detention and let them take up a bed in my limited detention space? … as judges are telling ICE to let people out, or do I put them on the non-detained dockets and their case will come up in four years, or five years?” ICE does not have enough officers to handle all the cases that exist promptly. They have to make priority calls: “Do I do this or else arrest somebody at a local jail who has been picked up for committing a crime?”

ICE has done some high-profile actions against OPT fraud by Indian and Chinese migrants. It shut down a company named Finddream that allegedly sold OPT documents to Chinese students. It also set up a sting operation at a fake university, Farmington University, to catch fraud by Indian workers.

“I think ICE could dedicate some resources to these kinds of cases and do it routinely,” said Vaughan. “If they were to invest some resources into this, you’d see a lot more people leaving on their own in a hurry because they don’t want to get arrested.”

The employers might make the best target, she said. “Better to threaten the employers for illegal hiring, and that would deprive these guys of jobs. Maybe then they’ll leave.”

But the payoffs from fraud are much larger than the scale of ICE anti-fraud operations.

Fraudulent U.S. work permits can be converted into high-paying, high-prestige U.S. jobs, and fraudulently won legal documents can be converted into the ultimate bonanza of a green card and citizenship:

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at NMunro@Breitbart.com.

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