tunnel rat posted on July 30, 2011 11:41

This is just the beginning as Operation Uganda II ramps up:

ICE Investigating VA School's Visa Program

Dozens of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided offices at the University of Northern Virginia's Annandale campus Thursday.

The University of Northern Virginia is an unaccredited, for-profit private university that calls itself the most popular American university for students from India. Thousands of students are registered at three locations in northern Virginia.

Agents removed boxes of documents from a building on Little River Turnpike where the university leases two suites.

The university temporarily can't accept any foreign students, reads a notice posted on the door of the offices. UNVA students must leave the country immediately if they are unable “to continue to attend classes and maintain their active status in a manner required by federal government regulations,” the notice reads.

“Today, officials from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) served University of Northern Virginia officials with a Notice of Intent to Withdraw (NOIW) UNVA’s authorization to admit foreign students,” read a statement released by ICE spokeswoman Cori W. Bassett.

The school was told it can no longer participate in that program, but no specific reason was disclosed.

The school's chancellor provided a few clues Friday.

"The warrant included many items such as computer hardware equipment and paper documentation, which were all subsequently taken into government control," Chancellor Dr. David Lee said. "We were told that they would be returned early next week after they're copied."

On Friday, university officials said they are cooperating and have nothing to hide, News4's Jane Watrel reported.

"We want to emphasize that UNVA is open for business, classes are being held as scheduled, and as long as students attend classes as required, they will continue to remain in status," Lee said.

The raid is big news in India, where most of the schools students come from, Watrel reported. An Indian advocacy group based in D.C. went to the campus to investigate.

"Students are scared," student advocate Satish Vemana said. "Not only students. There are at least a lot of parents back home. They're crying, they're calling us because they send those kids here for their dreams."

No charges have been filed nor people arrested but the school is being investigated to see whether it conforms to federal regulations for the administration of student visas. Those regulations were tightened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Foreign-born students at the campus Thursday said they have attended classes in the building and earned degrees from the school. One said the school helps students get their student visas.

If the investigation discovers the school improperly handled student visas, the school could face severe penalties.



An attempt to turn Molina Healthcare Inc. into another curry den has resulted in a major lawsuit against the company.  The insurgents that are bringing this suit have a lot of ammo on their side and a good lawyer.  For the rest of you fucking collaborators that want to get in bed with Cognizant or any other slumdog sweatshop, you should watch your back.

Fired IT workers file lawsuit claiming H-1B workers replaced them

Workers file suit against Molina Healthcare and its outsourcer, Cognizant

Patrick Thibodeau
 

July 12, 2011 (Computerworld)

Eighteen IT workers in California have filed a lawsuit against their former employer claiming they were replaced by H-1B workers from India and then laid off in violation of the state's anti-discrimination laws.

In the lawsuit, the 18 workers say that IT managers at Molina Healthcare Inc. increasingly catered to the Indian workers while leaving U.S. workers, mostly security analysts and programmers who earned at least $75,000 a year, feeling excluded prior getting laid off last year.

The lawsuit, filed in April in Los Angeles Superior Court against Molina, its CIO at the time, and Molina's outsourcer, Cognizant Technology Solutions, contends that over a period of several years the U.S. workers were marginalized as the IT department became dominated by Indian nationals.

The laid off IT workers used anecdotes to make part of their case.

For instance, the workers describe an IT department that took to celebrating Indian holidays, while Indian managers "actively discouraged U.S. workers from celebrating U.S. holidays and traditions, such as Christmas, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, by assigning mandatory work that, in order to be timely completely, required work during holidays traditionally celebrated in America."

The lawsuit says that non-Indian workers were kept from participating in critical decision making processes "for the purpose of putting them at a disadvantage to the employees of Indian descent."

It also charges that the IT management team only hired and promoted Indian nationals

Some meetings that had long been conducted in English, would "on many occasions" be conducted in "the native language of Indian employees," the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit makes a number of charges, including discrimination based on national origin.

"The IT department was known as little India," said James Otto, an attorney for the 18 former Molina IT employees. The 18 workers were among 40 that were laid off in January, 2010. The 18 workers that filed suit claim the layoffs were made to make room for H-1B workers.

"They just wanted to fire the Americans, and that's what happened. It wasn't a downsizing, it wasn't an outsourcing, it was bringing in foreigners onto American soil to replace American workers. That [was] the scheme and it's going on around the country," said Otto.

Molina officials, in a written response to a Computerworld query, said the action is "nothing more than a shakedown lawsuit brought by a plaintiff's attorney who -- when the company refused his ridiculous financial demands -- filed a legal action grounded in falsehoods and malicious gossip."

Otto said he never made any demands and he had initially sought mediation.

Molina, in its statement, also said that "we will win in court because specific allegations in the lawsuit have been examined and found false. The fact that the general allegations also provide no basis for legal claims confirms that this plaintiffs' attorney included them solely for media attention."

Molina said it is an American company "employing more than 4,200 Americans," and that "less than 50 of our employees are H1B visa holders and they were hired only in cases when it was necessary to cast a wider net for particular skills."

The lawsuit says that on Jan. 14, 2010, one day after the U.S. Department of Labor approved Cognizant's application for 40 H-1B workers, Molina fired 40 programmers, security analysts and managers.

Molina, in response, said that particular Cognizant filing "had nothing to whatsoever to do with Molina and not a single person was hired at Molina based on that application."

Cognizant is named in the lawsuit, in part, for not trying to find qualified U.S. workers for the positions.

It also claims that the wages for the H-1B employees were approximately 50% less than that paid to their American counterparts.

In a written response to a query about the lawsuit, Cognizant said it "takes legal and regulatory compliance very seriously. It is Cognizant's view that this lawsuit is without merit, and we will vigorously contest it and pursue all legal remedies that may be available to us."

"The healthcare industry is one of the largest industry segments that Cognizant serves," said Cognizant. "Our expertise enables our clients to be more competitive in the marketplace, thereby enhancing their ability to provide affordable, quality healthcare to consumers."

Otto said allegations in the lawsuit are backed by direct testimony. He noted that Molina's former manager of budget and regulatory reports and audits testified that IT department expenses increased beyond its budget after the layoffs.

The lawsuit also alleges that in 2007 and 2008 "Molina learned of numerous material violations of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) but did not take any action with respect these violations."

When Molina's IT department runs a test on new software projects, the IT employees are required to mask the data embedded in the software to protect privacy, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges that that Molina's H-1B employees would send patient names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and full medical files to employees in India.

The lawsuit also alleges that on Jan. 12, 2010, Molina IT employees spoke with their manager about discrimination and HIPPA issues. Two days later, according to the lawsut, the employees who complained were included in a broad layoff action.

Molina, in response, said that this claim is false, and that it "rigorously protects patient privacy and fully complies with all federal and state laws" including HIPPA.

 


Del. man accused of abusing visa program, misleading immigrants

WILMINGTON -- Dozens of highly educated immigrants, most from India, were brought to Delaware over the past five years after being promised high-paying computer consulting jobs, only to find themselves warehoused at an apartment in Newark with little work and no pay for months and sometimes years.

Federal prosecutors charge that the man who brought them to the United States -- Srinivas Doppalapudi -- also may have inappropriately collected thousands of dollars in reimbursement from some to pay for their temporary worker visa fees.

Doppalapudi, an Indian citizen who is a permanent resident of the United States, is accused of conspiracy and violating immigration laws by lying to the government on temporary worker applications.

Also charged in the criminal complaint is Rakesh Mandava, who is described as an employee of Doppalapudi in court papers.

Doppalapudi's attorney, Christopher S. Koyste, said his client "made mistakes" in the way his companies completed required immigration paperwork.

"Mr. Doppalapudi greatly regrets these mistakes and understands the gravity of the situation as it not only affects him, but also the people that he employs and the companies for whom he provides services," Koyste said.

Doppalapudi lives in Delaware and operates five computer consulting companies -- each specializing in a different type of programming or service -- and he employs more than 90 people, Koyste said.

"All of the companies are going through a process of review in order to be 100 percent compliant with all United States immigration laws," he said, adding they will cooperate with the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Snyder declined to comment Thursday, saying the complaint speaks for itself.

Mandava is represented by Delaware Federal Public Defender Edson Bostic, who declined to comment.

Missing pieces

Charging documents on file at U.S. District Court in Wilmington allege Doppalapudi submitted nearly 500 temporary worker applications from 2005 to 2010, a number of which prosecutors now believe were falsified.

Most of the immigrants were brought to Delaware on the H-1B visa program, where employees can be brought in only if it is for an existing job to work in a position that requires at least a bachelor's degree. They must also be paid at least the prevailing wage or more, according to immigration law expert Matthew Hirsch. The employer, not the temporary worker, also is supposed to pay the fees associated with the visa that can cost more than $2,000 per application.

If it is done properly, Hirsch said, it costs more, not less, to hire H-1B workers.

On the surface, Doppalapudi's Delaware-based companies -- identified as Technosoft Inc., American IT Group Inc., Streamline Technologies Inc., GK Soft Inc. and PS Tech Inc. in court papers -- appeared to meet that criteria. The employees were all to be paid about $48,500 to $77,000 a year to fulfill computer consulting contracts Doppalapudi's companies had with businesses, including some in Delaware, according to court papers. But investigators found that in a number of cases, the jobs on the applications did not exist.

In one instance, Doppalapudi submitted applications for nine people to fulfill a contract with a pain management clinic in Dover, seven of which were approved. But the operator of that clinic said he never signed any such contract and never hired any of the employees.

In another case, a downstate liquor store operator hired a single employee through Doppalapudi, but prosecutors said Doppalapudi submitted paperwork for four full-time employees -- not including the one hired -- three of whom were approved.

Left out to dry

Prosecutors charge that through these bogus applications, Doppalapudi was building up a workforce he would house at company apartments and either not pay -- or pay only minimally -- while he waited for actual work or contracts to materialize.

Investigators describe this practice as "benching."

Hirsch said employers are able to engage in abusive practices like this because the workers are intimidated or fearful for their jobs, or do not understand how the system works.

One temporary worker told investigators he was interviewed at Technosoft's office in India and was offered a $60,000-per-year job at the company's Delaware location.

When he arrived in February 2008, however, he was put up at a Newark apartment owned by Technosoft and frequently was not paid despite doing work on "in-house" projects at the company. After complaining, he said he was sent to a client site for several months in 2009 -- and received the promised compensation -- but then was returned to "the bench" and was unpaid, according to prosecutors, until May 2010.

A different man told investigators that shortly after earning a master's at an American university, he was hired by Technosoft in January 2008 for a $50,000-a-year job, but said it was not until May 2010 that he was put to work and received the promised salary.

In the interim, he said, he shared an apartment with four or five other Technosoft employees and those roommates would change when "new batches of employees" arrived. At one point, he said Doppalapudi told him he needed to go out and find his own client to fulfill the terms of his visa.

During that time, he said, he was given money by Mandava to pay for food he purchased for himself and the others living in the apartment.

Hirsch said it is disappointing to hear about a case like this because "legitimate employers from all around the United States make good use of the H-1B visa to fill appropriate and legitimate needs."

He said this case appears to involve one bad organization intent on skirting the law.

 



- Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies

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