DALLAS, Texas — An Indian management consulting firm based in Chicago agreed in August to a $2.5 million global settlement for visa fraud and inducing aliens to enter and remain in the U.S.
This investigation was conducted by members of the Dallas Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS); this settlement was coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) of the Northern District of Texas.
Mu Sigma – a large, advanced analytics service provider headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with its main delivery center in Bangalore, India – was illegally circumventing U.S. government H-1B visa regulations by actively employing B1 visitor visa holders under contract within the U.S. In addition, the company’s invitation letters for the B1 visa holders misrepresented the nature of the B1 visitors’ intended business. Furthermore, company officials illegally instructed potential B1 business visitors and company handlers how to avoid detection by U.S. authorities.
“To ensure fairness, U.S. visa and hiring laws are designed to ensure that all companies operate from a level playing field,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas. “Like children who get their hands caught in the cookie jar, this joint investigation shows a small sliver of corruption that some companies are capable of if they think no one is looking.”
“The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to protecting the integrity of all passports, visas and travel documents which U.S. companies rely on to legally employ foreign workers,” said Jeffrey McGallicher, special agent in charge of the DSS Houston Field Office. “This case represents the finest efforts of cooperative law enforcement at the federal and state level, along with DSS’ global network of special agents, working together to stop criminals from exploiting U.S. visas, passports, and foreign workers. DSS is committed to investigating passport and visa crimes around the world while pursuing justice and protecting the interests and security of the United States of America.”
Mu Sigma B1 visa holders who were illegally working in the United States were also paid in India at India-based wages, which are substantially lower than their U.S. counterparts. This unlawful employment tactic greatly increased Mu Sigma’s profit margins and the company’s ability to provide low bids for end-user contracts.
Mu Sigma also required its employees to sign bond contracts that unlawfully sought reimbursement of up to $10,000 of the H-1B visa costs if an employee ceased employment before an agreed upon date. Additionally, to circumvent U.S. laws that might delay or prevent their entry into the U.S., Mu Sigma instructed its H-1B employees to misrepresent to U.S. consular and border officials their intended destination of employment within the U.S.
This lengthy investigation began in 2013 after a Mu Sigma employee whistleblower alleged to authorities that Mu Sigma managers were circumventing U.S. government H-1B visa regulations by actively and unlawfully employing B1 visitor visa holders under contract within the U.S. This investigation involved criminal violations of visa fraud, and inducing aliens to come to and remain in the U.S.
This investigation identified about 400 potential B1 visa violators, and more than 300 instances of illegal visa bond contracts, during the defined five-year statute of limitations. Investigating special agents also identified nine Mu Sigma executives and managers who actively participated in these schemes.
On August 28, HSI’s Dallas Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, in coordination with the USAO, reached a $2.5 million final global settlement with Mu Sigma for allegations of H1B and B1 visa abuse. Of the $2.5 million settlement, $1.6 million will satisfy the civil allegations, and $900,000 will satisfy the criminal allegations. In addition to the monetary settlement, the non-prosecution agreement includes a compliance and monitoring program. All investigating parties – including HSI, DSS, and the USAO, as well as defendant Mu Sigma and its counsel – have approved the global settlement agreement. The initiating whistleblower has agreed to the settlement which satisfies the federal, civil qui tam False Claims Act suit concurrently filed with the criminal case. Department of Homeland Security debarment officials have reviewed the settlement and met with Mu Sigma counsel and have finalized a separate agreement that resolves relevant debarment issues.