Investigation finds fraud in student visa work program

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2020 | Business Immigration

Some companies in New York may hire foreign students on an F-1 visa that allows them to work for a U.S. company for one to three years as part of what is called the Optional Training Program. Colleges, employers and students alike praise the program, but according to an investigation, some students were “hired” by fake companies that gave employment verification.

Students are only permitted to apply in a small period of time that is 90 days before their program ends and up to 60 days after. Employers say they appreciate the new cultural perspective provided by international students, and colleges say the program is important in helping them recruit students from abroad. However, two companies, Findream LLC and Sinocontech, LLC were found to be false. Run by a Chinese national who is now facing a prison sentence, it provided nearly 2,700 students with false paperwork. An official at the University of Kansas, which had seven students who said they found employment with Findream, said schools could not police it because the students acted in good faith and the paperwork was all in order.

Program supporters say that proportionally few students are involved in anything fraudulent. The director of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program said that while people always try to exploit the system, their system of checks works.

Foreign nationals may possess valuable skills that are important to a company’s ability to remain competitive, and it may be helpful to have an attorney throughout the process. There may be important deadlines and paperwork that must be error-free. An attorney may also know whether there have been any recent changes in immigration law that could affect employees and what the best route to getting a visa given the employee’s individual circumstances would be.