Nearly 70 Indian nationals who have allegedly been denied H-1B visas due to fraud by their employers are taking legal action against the US government, news agency Bloomberg reported.
The complainants, employed in a training programme for foreign graduates of US colleges and universities, say they did not intentionally take part in the fraud despite the activities of their employer. According to the complaint filed in federal court in Washington state, the US government unfairly punished Indian nationals for their association with those businesses without giving them a chance to respond.
The plaintiffs argue that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wrongly denied them H-1B speciality occupation visas without affording them the opportunity to address the allegations of fraud.
The Department of Homeland Security has continued to deny the workers’ requests for H-1B occupation visas despite the fact that they now work at lawful companies. The workers have demanded that the court set aside the DHS’s decision on their visa applications. They also want the court to issue an order for the agency to allow them to respond to any fraud allegations before making a determination on their admissibility to the US.
The lawsuit also claims that the Department of Homeland Security violated the Administrative Procedure Act by overstepping its authority and deeming the plaintiffs as inadmissible without a full record of the evidence. Additionally, many also consider the agency’s failure to notify the visa applicants of the actions against them to be a procedural lapse, further emphasizing the importance of fair treatment.
Thanks to its strong graduate programs and post-study work opportunities, Indian students mostly prefer the US for pursuing their master’s degree. In fact, Indian nationals account for 18% of all international students in America, second only to China (35%) in student country of origin. In 2021-22, while 27,545 students enrolled in bachelor’s programmes in the US, the number of students pursuing postgraduate degrees was a whopping 1.02 lakh. Many foreign graduates opt for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows them to work in the US for a limited period after completing their studies. This initiative is especially appealing to STEM graduates who seek to establish their careers in the country while pursuing extended visas like the H-1B. However, the plaintiffs’ affiliation with certain IT staffing companies has led them down a convoluted path, tainted by allegations of employer fraud.
These graduates worked for four IT staffing companies — Andwill Technologies, AzTech Technologies LLC, Integra Technologies LLC, and WireClass Technologies LLC — which had the approval of the OPT program. Despite this, the companies were later found to be involved in fraudulent activities. The graduates are now striving to demonstrate their innocence and overcome the detrimental impacts of their employers’ actions.