By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

Pradyumna Kumar Samal, a citizen of India and the former CEO of two Bellevue, Washington consulting companies, Divensi and Azimetry, that supplied tech workers to corporate clients, was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for an H-1B visa fraud scheme that cheated workers out of their wages and cheated the government out of over $1 million in taxes. Samal agreed to pay restitution of $1,119,867 for the tax loss. In addition, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart imposed a $10,000 fine.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Robart said “Based on your time in the U.S. you have basically defrauded everyone you could defraud. ... You engaged in an extensive scheme ... driven by greed - nothing more, nothing less.”

According to court records, two companies incorporated by Samal engaged in a scheme sometimes referred to as "bench-and-switch," to exploit foreign national workers, compete unlawfully in the market and defraud the U.S. government. Court records also show Samal submitted forged and false application materials to the USCIS, making it appear as if foreign-national employees named in the petitions had been earmarked for projects contracted to Samal’s companies by end clients. In fact, these project assignments were fictitious. The forged documents included forged letters and fraudulent statements of work that appeared as if they had been signed by senior executives at Samal’s clients. After the government approved the applications, Samal's companies "benched" the foreign nationals - left them unpaid and forced them to submit phony sick and annual leave requests until they were able to place those employees at actual end clients.

More than 250 workers were brought in under the phony applications. The employees were forced to pay Samal’s companies a partially refundable “security deposit” of as much as $5,000 for the visa filings, regardless of whether they were assigned to any projects that provided them with income.

If you want to know more information on employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at