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Immigration fraud case highlights importance of applications

Most businesses that work with foreign employees understand that immigration is a complicated process. In fact, many visas are handed out via a lottery system, because the annual number of visa applicants tends to far exceed the permitted number of immigrants.

For businesses hoping to hire the best and brightest, difficulty obtaining the right kind of visa can leave them unable to hire the perfect applicant. There is a lot of paperwork involved with legal immigration into the United States, and getting a visa often proves to be a competitive process.

Employment visas can be hard to obtain

Typically, employers will request an H-1B visa for new, highly-skilled workers they want to bring into the United States. This visa lasts for three years and can get renewed for another three-year term.

Sadly, the number of visas under this program is limited to 85,000. There are other visas possible, including an L-1 visa for an employee who already works within the company in another country, the TN visa for Mexican or Canadian citizens or the O-1, which only gets awarded to those with extraordinary abilities.

The process of obtaining these visas requires diligence, funding and patience. All necessary background checks and paperwork need to be completed in a timely manner. There are also many costs associated with the process, from filing fees to travel expenses. Many times, a visa application may take weeks or months to move through the application and review process.

Case out of Indiana involves fraud and falsified documentation

Indiana attorney Joel Paul, age 45, plead guilty to charges related to filing false visa applications for immigrants. Although his practice involved individuals and not work visas, the details of this case highlight the desperation and rule-breaking that can result from the complicated and often frustrating visa process.

Over the course of four years, between 2013 and 2017, Paul submitted more than 250 visa applications with fraudulent paperwork. Specifically, the applications claim that the potential immigrants were victims of crimes in the United States and had worked with law enforcement to resolve those crimes. The attorney in question used unauthorized copies of certificates from a U.S. attorney's office.

The exact charges involved were mail fraud, immigration document fraud and aggravated identity theft. It is believed that many of his clients were completely unaware of the illegal steps Paul was taking to secure their right to stay in the country. He allegedly collected more than $750,000 in fees from clients related to these fraudulent applications.

While the visa applications in question were not related to work visas, the fact that an attorney was willing to falsify documents to obtain visas for his clients should make it clear that getting a visa can be a prohibitively difficult process for some. The system may be slow and bureaucratic, but the paperwork and checks are in place to protect the public. It's of critical importance that anyone immigrating or endeavoring to bring in foreign workers closely adheres to the law when it comes to immigration paperwork.

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