DALLAS — Two brothers, who were convicted at trial in November 2015 on felony visa fraud offenses, were each sentenced Friday to more than seven years in federal prison.
These sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Department of State.
Atul Nanda, 46, and his brother, Jiten “Jay” Nanda, 45, were each sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. 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 had been on bond, were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Dibon Solutions is an information technology consulting company located on Chenault Drive in Carrollton, Texas; 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 is a powerful and positive tool for businesses and foreign workers alike when properly used,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “When employers abuse the program, however, the foreign workers become a captive stable of cheap labor, victimized to the company’s financial benefit.”
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 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, they did not have actual positions at the time they were recruited. The brothers 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 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 Nandas required the H-1B visa candidates to pay the processing fees that the law requires to be paid by the company. The Nandas attempted to hide this, however, by having the H-1B candidates pay the fees directly to Dibon either with cash or a check written to “Dibon Training Center.”
The following three other defendants charged in the case each pleaded guilty before trial to one count of aiding and abetting visa fraud: Siva Sugavanam, 37, Vivek Sharma, 48, and Rohit Mehra, 39. They were each sentenced earlier this month by Judge Lynn to two years’ probation. Sugavanam was the lead recruiter for Dibon; Sharma acted as Dibon’s office manager; and Mehra recruited employees for the bench and transported benched employees to and from Dibon Headquarters. All three had knowledge of and/or involvement in the filing of false documents with the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in securing recruits’ employment with Dibon.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Danial Gividen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Yanowitch, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.