Vimal Patel was studying for a master's in business administration in London when he saw an advertisement for work in the U.S. The ad offered a job in the tech industry, as well as sponsorship for the kind of work visa that allows foreign nationals
to take professional-level jobs in the country. So Patel applied and paid his prospective employer, Cygate Software & Consulting, in Edison, N.J., thousands of dollars in up-front fees. But when Patel arrived, Cygate had no tech job for him. He ended up working at a gas station, and Cygate nevertheless took a chunk of his wages for years, according to documents in a criminal case against Cygate.
After a federal investigation into Cygate, Patel and five other natives of India recruited by the company pled guilty to visa violations in June. They were sentenced to 12 to 18 months of probation, assessed fines of $2,000 each, and now face deportation. But at Patel's sentencing in the federal courthouse in Newark, N.J., his lawyer said the slim 36-year-old, with a mop of brown hair spilling over his forehead, was more victim than villain. Like many ambitious workers from abroad, he came to the country seeking his fortune, and he suffered for the effort. "It's a sad day," said Anthony Thomas, the public defender assigned to represent Patel. "He always dreamed of coming to the U.S."