LexisNexis is one of four area companies linked to Wright State University’s use of a temporary work visa program.
The university’s use of the federal temporary work-visa program, known as H-1B program, is currently under a federal, criminal investigation, according to a university-funded forensic audit released today.
The audit was produced for Wright State by the firm Plante Moran at a cost of more than $360,000. The audit was released Friday and raises concern about WSU’s use of the H-1b temporary work visa program with several companies.
The companies named in the audit as playing a role in WSU’s use of the H-1B permits are Lexis/Nexis of Miami Twp., Beavercreek-based UES, Inc., Beavercreek-based Universal Technology Corporation, and a company based in Montgomery County’s Washington Twp. named Web Yoga.
Two of the companies named in the audit are led by current and former Wright State trustees: LexisNexis top-level executive Sean Fitzpatrick was appointed by Gov. John Kasich last year, during the audit. Former WSU trustee Nina Joshi, who resigned from the board during the audit, oversees the Beavercreek-based company UES, Inc.
Fitzpatrick declined to comment on the issue at Friday’s board meeting.
UES issued a statement Friday saying it “has completed an internal review with expert consultants, and come to the conclusion we have acted appropriately.”
“We view this report as an issue internal to Wright State. UES remains focused on our recent business growth and on product development,” the statement says.
All four had contracts with Wright State Research Institute or its contracting arm Wright State Applied Research Corporation that included work done by people using H-1B visas obtained by Wright State between July 2010 and June 2015.
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“Our analysis identified multiple occurrences whereby it appears WSRI/WSARC utilized the H-1B Visa program to obtain foreign labor which was contracted out to external companies (i.e. to obtain foreign labor for clients),” the audit says.
Joe Schiabica, president of UTC, said the call from a reporter was “the first we knew that UTC had any affiliation or anything with this whole H-1B visa thing with Wright State.”
Web Yoga officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
The audit says WSU provided 22 foreign workers for Web Yoga, four for UTC, at least one to LexisNexis and one to UES.
Federal officials won’t comment on the scope of the investigation.
The audit cites other potential examples of this happening, but says before more info could be gathered auditors were told “to discontinue researching the Visa issue and focus on other potential issues.”
The audit is dated October 2016. In September 2015, this newspaper published an investigation that found WSU was sponsoring visas for foreign workers whose listed work location was Web Yoga, UES and LexisNexis.
Immigration experts said the arrangement may violate immigration laws designed to prevent staffing agencies from trafficking in cheap labor from overseas.
The arrangement also allowed companies to use special rules for universities that allow visas for less-than-market wages and that get around an annual visa cap that doesn’t apply to universities.