May 15, 2018 By Christian Murray
A Woodside woman has been charged with visa fraud for filing false documents to get Filipino nationals work visas, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Rena Beduya Avendula, 50, who owned Woodside-based Professional Place & Recruitment Inc. (PPRI), would submit fraudulent documents claiming that her clients would be employed in “specialty occupations,” therefore qualifying for H-1B work visas, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Avendula is charged with five counts of visa fraud and with conspiring to defraud the U.S. by bringing in undocumented immigrants. The scheme allegedly took place from October 2009 through February 2015.
“Avendula engineered a fraud scheme for personal profit by creating fake job positions to deceive a government program that allows a limited number of foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily to fill highly-specialized positions,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.
Avendula’s firm specialized in recruiting nurses to work at nursing homes.
General registered nurses do not qualify for the H-1B program. The H-1B program allows foreign nationals with certain specialized skills to work in U.S. under the condition that they receive the prevailing wage rate.
Avendula secured H-1B visas by falsely stated that her clients—many of whom were registered nurses– would be working in “specialized nursing” at prevailing wage rages. However, they were working as general nurses at significantly lower rates of pay, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
According to the indictment, she sponsored dozens of fraudulent applications and profited from the filing fees she collected from the nurses and from the health care facilities that paid PPRI.
She faces a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment for the visa fraud charges and 10 years’ imprisonment for each foreign national she induced to reside in the United States in connection with the visa fraud conspiracy.
Avendula could not be reached for comment. PPRI’s phone has been disconnected.
For a copy of the indictment, click here