Houston consulting company admits to H-1B visa fraud conspiracy
HOUSTON – Cloudgen LLC has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit H-1B visa fraud, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Cloudgen LLC is a consulting and strategic solutions company located on South Dairy Ashford Road in Houston. Through its corporate representative, Cloudgen pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit visa fraud from on or about March 2013 to December 2020. During the plea, the company admitted to recruiting multiple Information Technology workers from India and falsely procuring H-1B visas for them to enter and work in the United States. A H-1B visa permits the temporary employment of non-immigrants to fill specialized jobs in the United States.
Specifically, in this “bench and switch” scheme, the company would file documents with the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) containing fraudulent statements about the availability of work at third-party national employers. Cloudgen would then submit forged contracts stating each third-party company had a job for the individual Indian national. Next, based on those false documents, Cloudgen would submit paperwork to get an H-1B worker’s visa for the Indian nationals. When granted, they would use that visa to allow the Indian nationals to enter the United States.
However, because the jobs were fake, they were housed in different locations across the country while Cloudgen obtained other employment for them. Such action gave Cloudgen a competitive advantage by having a steady “bench” or supply of visa-ready workers to send to different employers based on market needs when the true process actually takes some time. Once workers had obtained new employment, the “switch” would occur when the new third-party company filed immigration paperwork for the foreign workers.
Cloudgen would also extend their visas, based on the original false ones, to allow them to stay and continue working in the United States. Cloudgen took a percentage of the worker’s salary as their fees, earning approximately $493,516.28 in profits during the course of the conspiracy.
Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal will impose sentencing Sept. 16. At that time, the company could have to pay up to $500,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss as well as a maximum five years of probation.
The Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service conducted the investigation with the assistance of DOL and DHS. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard W. Bennett and Jay Hileman are prosecuting the case.