APRIL 2015
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Immigration

Hotel Owner sent to Federal Prison for Hiring Undocumented Workers

Dilip Patel

By DILIP PATEL

This story shows how important it is for all employers to ensure that they follow the law regarding verification of employment authorization for all hires. The husband and wife owners of two Clarion Hotels in Kansas City were arrested and charged with employing undocumented workers in their hotels. On Feb. 17, 2015, the wife was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and forfeited her ownership in the hotels. The husband is waiting to be sentenced.

Violations of immigration law also often involve violations of other state and federal laws relating to taxes, etc. We are now seeing more and more examples of situations where offenders are charged with multiple crimes arising out of the same conduct.

The following is the Press Release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Rhonda R. Bridge, 42, and her husband, Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 53, both of Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain. In their pleas, they admitted employing undocumented workers at two hotels they owned: A Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th in Overland Park, and a Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo. Chaudary and Bridge lowered their hotels’ operating costs and put themselves at a competitive advantage by not paying Social Security, Workers Compensation and unemployment insurance for the undocumented workers.

According to court records, the investigation began in December 2011 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) received information that the owners of the hotels were employing foreign nationals who were not lawfully present in the United States. In June 2012, an undercover agent posing as an undocumented worker got a job at the Overland Park Hotel. He was hired even though he told his employers he was not authorized to work in the United States.

In 2011 and 2012, the defendants filed false and fraudulent Quarterly Wage Reports and Unemployment Tax Returns with the Kansas Department of Labor in which they under-reported the number of employees at the Overland Park hotel, the amount of total wages paid and the amount of unemployment taxes due.

Bridge is the third person to be sentenced in the case. Judith Vanzant, a hotel manager, and Syed Naqvi, a Pakistani native who worked as a desk clerk, already were sentenced. Co-defendant Munir Ahmad Chaudary is awaiting sentencing.

Grissom commended Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR), the Overland Park Police Department, the U.S. Department of Labor and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for their work on the case.

Locating and Printing Automated Form I-94 and Travel History After Each Trip Abroad

Nonimmigrant foreign nationals are reminded to print their I-94 and travel history after each entry into the United States now that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has fully implemented its automated Form I-94 program. (CBP also provides the arrival and departure records going back five years for nonimmigrants.) Nonimmigrants can retrieve their I-94 number by entering their passport information on the CBP I-94 webpage found at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. After printing the travel history and I-94 record, verify that the information is correct.

Locating I-94s can sometimes be tricky especially when a “not found” message is received. While it is possible that the Form I-94 does not exist because of a system error, more likely the I-94 is in the CBP system, but the data is formatted differently than how the individual entered it. Below are some tips on how to locate a “hiding” I-94. If, however, none of the methods explained below resolve the issue, telephone or visit the CBP Deferred Inspection Office and explain the problem. Some of the Deferred Inspection Offices have been able to resolve the problem over the phone without an in-person visit; however, other offices may require an in-person visit. Contact information for the Deferred Inspection Offices can be found on CBP’s website. While deferred inspection sites have been instructed to correct I-94 errors, not travel history, a deferred inspection site can correct historical I-94 information if evidence is presented regarding the error or inaccuracy.

Name Issues

Although CBP has stated it would draw the name for the Form I-94 from the travel document (e.g., passport biographic page), that is not always the case. The instructions on CBP’s website state that the name is drawn from the visa, if any. Therefore, check the passport, visa, and a copy of the submitted Form DS-160 (if available) for name variations. Try entering the name as stated on each document.

Also try entering the first and middle name in the First Name field. Do this even if the middle name is not stated on the passport or visa.

Switch the last and first name when entering the information on the website. Some countries state the name in the passport as first name, last name, rather than the more standard order of last name, first name. This may cause the name to be recorded incorrectly in the CBP system.

If the individual has two first names or two last names, type the first names without a space between them or the last names without a space between them. Example: type the first names “Mary Jane” as “Maryjane.”

Passport Issues

Check the Form DS-160 (if available) for the passport number stated. If the passport number on the Form DS-160 is different than the passport number on which the individual was admitted, type the passport number as stated on the submitted Form DS-160. Also, check the passport number stated on the visa. If the passport number is different than the current passport, enter the passport number stated on the visa.

Some passport numbers may begin with the year in which the passport was issued, causing the number to be too long for the relevant field in CBP’s automation system. If relevant, try entering the passport number without the year.

Dilip Patel of Shutts & Bowen LLP, a Florida Bar board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 227-8178 or e-mail dpatel@shutts.com

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