Sunday, March 20, 2011
PINOY RECRUITMENT VICTIMS WANT TO STAY
A dozen Filipinos have accused a New York-based medical research company of duping them and are seeking special visas so they can legally stay in the United States while they pursue their complaint.
“It was so inviting to get engaged with this clinical research company,” admitted Cleandra Oncines, one of the alleged victims and the group’s spokesperson.
Lawyer Arnedo Valera said the New York Attorney General’s Office is already investigating Care Worldwide Inc. for possible violation of state labor and penal laws.
In its website, Care Worldwide Inc. describes itself as an “international site management organization whose sole purpose is clinical selection, clinical and nonclinical team recruitment to support the successful outcome of clinical trials for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.”
But Valera said the company collected thousands of dollars from job applicants who were convinced to get additional training, allegedly on the assurance it will help them land jobs.
Oncines, who worked as an auditor for 14 years in the Philippines, was offered a job as clinical associate.
“I’m not a nurse, I have no medical background but based on my experience, I could qualify as a quality assurance manager,” she explained.
“This company promised to process our work visas to get a job. The ultimate goal is to get a green card,” Oncines added.
She got an H-1B visa in March 2010 – even though she didn’t have a job.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa which allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
“There is clear fraudulent transaction involving immigration laws. They were enticed to apply for positions and pay the fees for non-existent jobs,” Valera declared.
“There was a clear violation of H-1B visa regulations,” he stressed.
He explained that during the recruitment, Care Worldwide Inc executives had offered applicants with a company training package for a $3,000 fee.
“That should have been a red flag that there was no legitimate job offer. Those who got H-1B visas were even asked to pay the company which then gave the money back to make it appear they were paid wages and taxes deducted,” Valera charged.
He said the Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is also looking into possible H-1B visa abuse.
The Filipinos are part of about 40 people (mostly Indian and Nepalese nationals) allegedly victimized by Care Worldwide Inc.
Valera said the New York Attorney General’s Office has taken the cudgels for the alleged victims.
In the meantime, he is helping the Filipino victims secure U visas.
“These victims of labor trafficking should be given temporary relief such as the non-immigrant U visa provided they qualify and cooperate with law enforcement agencies, and should have lawful non-immigrant status while waiting for the pending investigation,” he explained.
While most labor trafficking cases involve Filipinos recruited in the Philippines, this is one of the rare exceptions because this group was recruited while they were already in the US.
Oncines said the company offered to return her money but she refused. She realized that the H-1B visa she was holding wasn't worth the paper it was printed on until she gets a real job.