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Document and Benefit Fraud

Bay Area businessman charged with high-tech worker visa fraud

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A Silicon Valley businessman made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday following his indictment on 19 counts of visa fraud.

Balarkishan Patwardhan, 52, of Cupertino, is accused in an indictment filed March 27 with providing fraudulent immigration documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in support of employment visa petitions for 19 Indian nationals.

The charges are the result of a probe by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service's representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, a multi-agency group headed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). USCIS's Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also provided substantial assistance with the case.

The allegations against Patwardhan involve the H-1B visa program which requires, among other things, that a U.S. employer certify it has jobs available that cannot be filled by Americans. The indictment alleges Patwardhan falsely represented to the government that the 19

H-1B visa applicants had high technology job offers with an American employer, when he knew there were no job offers for those individuals.

Patwardhan was released from custody on a $50,000 bond, with one of the conditions being that he not provide consulting services for technology companies or provide any visa services.

Patwardhan's next scheduled court appearance is April 22 before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila. The maximum statutory penalty for visa fraud is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.