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St Louis company violates H-2B non-immigrant visa program and immigration law.

Last week local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials announced in a press release that a local landscaping business pleaded guilty to charges of visa fraud.

According to ICE officials, Robert Brake, 33, of Byrnes Mill, Missouri, along with his company, Brake Landscaping & Lawncare Inc., pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor charges of employing foreign workers without authorization. Brake Landscaping & Lawncare Inc. is located in the 3500 block of Gratiot Street in St. Louis. The company pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Brake and his company were sentenced to two years of probation. The company paid $145,000 in forfeitures.

According to court documents, between March 2007 and February 2010, Robert Brake and his company illegally sub-contracted H-2B workers to an associate on a weekly basis at a profit of more than $2 per hour per foreign worker. To facilitate the unauthorized employment of temporary H–2B visa workers throughout the year, Brake Landscaping employees were hired by another company owned by Robert Brake, Brake Snow and Ice Removal, which artificially created a need for temporary or seasonal workers that did not actually exist.

The H-2B non-immigrant visa program permits employers to hire foreign workers to enter the United States to perform temporary, nonagricultural services on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent basis. The number of H-2B visas available each fiscal year is limited and in high demand.

Most H-2B employers are careful to comply with immigration rules and regulations. Companies interested in hiring foreign workers should seek the advice of an immigration lawyer when taking advantage of programs the H-2B visa for temporary workers.