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Silicon Valley businessman charged with visa fraud

April 01, 2013 11:34 IST

Balarkishan Patwardhan, a Silicon Valley-based businessman was arrested on Wednesday, March 27, on visa fraud charges. He made an initial appearance in federal court, Northern District of California, on Friday and has been charged with 19 counts of visa fraud.

Patwardhan, 52, of Cupertino, is accused in an indictment  of providing fraudulent immigration documents to US Citizenship and Immigration Services in support of employment visa petitions for 19 Indian nationals.

The allegations against Patwardhan involve the H-1B visa programme which requires, among other things, that a US employer certify it has jobs available that cannot be filled by Americans.

According to the statement released by US Attorney Melinda Haag's office, Patwardhan knowingly submitted false immigration forms and supporting documentation to the government relating to I-129 petitions that require, among other things, that an American employer certify it has high-technology jobs that cannot be filled by Americans.

The indictment alleges that Patwardhan falsely represented to the government that 19 non-immigrant applicants had high technology job offers with an American employer, when in reality he knew that he did not have jobs for the applicants.

Patwardhan was released on a $50,000 bond with one of the conditions of his pre-trial release being that he not provide consulting services for technology companies or provide any visa services. His next scheduled court appearance is on April 22, before United States District Judge Edward J Davila.

The maximum statutory penalty for visa fraud is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Ritu Jha in San Francisco