Employer Sentenced in Scheme Defrauding Foreign Workers

Alexander J. Segal's picture

On May 17, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the sentencing of an airline staffing executive for immigration fraud [PDF version].

Eleno Quinteros, Jr., who is the former vice president of operations for two airline mechanic staffing companies, pled guilty to having falsely certified that he had not received payments from mechanics in his employ for whom he had filed immigrant visa petitions. He pled guilty to a single count of violating 18 U.S.C. 1546(a) (making a false claim in support of an immigration application).

While in his positions, Quinteros recruited Mexican aircraft mechanics to work in the United States for his companies on TN [see category] or H2B visas. The indictment indicated that Quinteros subsequently agreed to help 85-percent of the foreign nationals that he had helped come to the United States as nonimmigrants pursue permanent residency. However, in so doing, he had also illegally solicited substantial fees from these employees in return for his assistance in seeking permanent resident status.

Quinteros admitted that he demanded and collected as much as $567,480 from his foreign national labor workers. The USCIS noted that “employers are prohibited by law from demanding payment for their fees-including attorney's fees-in connection with charged applications.” Furthermore, court filings showed that Quinteros used less than half of the money he collected in petitioning for immigrant visa petitions for his employees, while pocketing the remaining estimated $372,715. Despite having pled guilty to only one count of making a false claim in support of an immigration application, he admitted in his plea allocution that his underlying scheme involved more than 25 immigration documents. He has also been ordered to pay back $292,526 in legal fees collected from 52 of the victims of his scheme.

It is important for foreign nationals in the United States to know their rights under U.S. law. As the case highlights, it is illegal for an employer to solicit fees in return for filing a petition or application on behalf of a foreign national employee. Furthermore, it is illegal for an employer to make a false claim in support of an immigration application denying that he or she had solicited such payments. In this instance, the Department of Justice (DOJ), with the support of the USCIS, successfully prosecuted a major case of immigration fraud and abuse. Individuals with questions about seeking any immigration status or other benefit should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for case-specific guidance. Potential immigration fraud can be reported to the USCIS or first discussed with an experienced attorney.

Employer Sentenced in Scheme Defrauding Foreign Workers