On March 1, 2012, a grand jury in Colorado indicted the owners of several long-term care facilities in Colorado on multiple charges related to human trafficking, including forced labor and visa fraud. See United States v. Kalu, 12-cr-00106 (D. Co. 2012). The indictment alleges that the individual defendants were involved in a scheme to fraudulently secure H-1B visas for FNs by claiming that they would work in this country as nurse instructors or supervisors at a fictional university. Once the FNs arrived, the defendants would force them to work for the Foreign Healthcare Professional Group, a business that the defendants controlled, which contracted out the FNs to long-term care facilities as staff nurses.
These defendants face 132 counts of mail/wire fraud, visa fraud, forced labor, money laundering, and human trafficking. If convicted, they face between 10 and 20 years in prison, fines up to $500,000, and the forfeiture of their business. There are no charges in the indictment against many of the long-term care facilities where these FNs were placed, but the investigation is continuing.
The Kalu case underscores the importance to all health care employers of knowing the immigration details of FNs they seek to hire, even if the FNs are presented by professional staffing agencies. The "Best Practices" issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") in connection with its worksite enforcement initiatives indicate that organizations must establish enforceable protocols for all contractors and subcontractors to ensure that they satisfy U.S. employment eligibility requirements.