Indian company Infosys Corporation, which provides IT consulting and technology outsourcing services, recently agreed to a settlement with the U.S. government in a lawsuit involving allegations of visa and immigration fraud. Per the terms of the settlement, Infosys is required to pay a $34 million fine – the largest immigration fine in history – and must also agree to abide by increased immigration compliance rules.
The Infosys Lawsuit
The Infosys company operates out of India and has locations in thirty countries. In the U.S., Infosys has established offices in 17 cities including Plano, Texas. It is the Plano, Texas location that has been responsible for processing the company’s immigration applications.
Typically, when companies wish to bring foreign workers to the U.S. for employment, the visa the employees obtain is the H-1B visa. Obtaining the H-1B visa can be difficult because employers have to prove that the foreign worker’s job position is in a specialty occupation (which is an occupation that requires at least a Bachelor’s degree to perform the job duties). Additionally, the H-1B application process can be very expensive as employers have to pay a base $325 filing fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and, depending on the company, may also have to pay additional fees of $500, $750 or $1,500 depending on the size of the company. These costs do not take into consideration that attorney fees which can vary between $1,000 and $3,000 or sometimes more.
Because of these costs and potential inconveniences of obtaining several thousand H-1B visas, Infosys obtained B-1 visas for many of its workers. The B-1 visa is not intended for regular employment in the United States and, because of this, it is much easier and cheaper to obtain than the H-1B visa.
Allegations Against Infosys
In connection with this B-1 in lieu of H-1B scheme, the U.S. government alleged that Infosys provided fraudulent information to the U.S. consular officers who were issuing the B-1 visas. Specifically, the allegations state that Infosys provided letters to the consulate that contained false information; that Infosys instructed the B-1 visa holders to mislead or lie to the consular officers; and that Infosys altered its client contracts to hide the fact that its B-1 visa holders were effectively functioning as H-1B employees.
The investigation into Infosys’s practices resulted from a 2011 lawsuit that was filed by Jack Palmer, an Infosys worker, who sued the company and claimed that his superiors had retaliated against him for questioning the company’s violation of U.S. immigration laws.
The Effects for the Infosys Workers
The news stories that have covered the settlement have largely omitted any discussion of how the settlement and lawsuit affect Infosys’s foreign workers. While each immigration case is different and largely dependent upon a series of individual circumstances, it is likely that a number of these workers will have a difficult time in obtaining a U.S. visa in the future.
The fee levied against Infosys should serve as a warning to other companies that errors in immigration applications – whether purposeful or not – can result in very serious penalties and fines as well as other long-lasting consequences. It is very important, especially for employers new to the immigrant sponsorship process, to consult an immigration law office for assistance on preparing and filing applications.
Additional Blog Posts
The Possible Impact of Sequestration for Employers and Immigrant Workers, ImmigRantings, April 22, 2013
More States Expected to Exert Control Regarding Illegal Immigration Problems, ImmigRantings, August 3, 2013