Our award-winning employment lawyers are experienced in representing parties regarding compliance with H-1B regulations and are often asked to discuss the Infosys case. As discussed below, this case highlights the need for proper legal guidance at the outset and particularly immediately if a notice of audit has been issued. Recently, the federal government announced that Infosys Corporation, an Indian corporation engaged in consulting, technology, and outsourcing, had agreed to the largest settlement ever recorded in an immigration visa fraud case. Infosys has offices in 17 cities in the U.S., including in Plano, Texas, the offending location. The Plano office is charged with, among other things, handling Infosys’s U.S. immigration practices and procedures for its U.S. operations. Without admitting any wrongdoing, Infosys agreed to settle alleged claims of systematic immigration fraud and abuse of the immigration process related to H-1B and B-1 visas. The crux of the case was that Infosys was accused of using B-1 visa holders (foreign nationals) to perform skilled labor that should have been performed by U.S. Citizens, or, H-1B visa holders. These employment visas, also known as business visas, are usually issued to foreign nationals for purposes such as training and attending meetings; not for work purposes. They are limited in number to about 65,000 annually. Compliance with the immigration regulations can be tricky and it is advisable to seek experienced counsel. If you have any questions about compliance under the H-1B program or received an audit notice, contact our employment immigration attorneys for a confidential consultation at (800) 893-9645.
Allegations of H-1B Fraud in Infosys Case:
Federal prosecutors had alleged that Infosys systematically abused the visa process, by, among other things, having their foreign national visa holders perform work not authorized by these particular visa holders. Prosecutors alleged that Infosys committed the following immigration related violations:
- Used B-1 visa holders to perform skilled labor, which is required to be preformed by U.S. Citizens or legitimate visa holders;
- Misled U.S. Consular Affairs officials by submitting “invitation letters” which misrepresented the true purpose of the visas by allegedly stating that the visas were for meeting or travel, not work;
- Deceived Consular Affairs officials by directing visa holders to avoid using certain terminology, and even went so far as to prepare a “Do’s and Don’ts” memorandum of terminology to avoid using such as testing, and implantation, which sound like “work” , and to avoid discussing contract rates;
- Directed foreign nationals to state that their intended destination was the same as that listed on their “Labor Condition Application” despite the fact that Infosys officials allegedly knew the destination had changed;
- Wrote and revised client contracts to conceal the fact that visa holders were performing unauthorized skilled labor, which should have been performed by U.S. Citizens or legitimate visa holders;
- Failed to keep required I-9 records for its foreign nationals between 2010-2011;
- Billed clients for off-shore resources, when, in reality, work requiring skilled and unskilled labor was being performed by B-1 visa holders in the U.S.; and
- Large-scale failure of Infosys to re-verify or update the employment status of many of its foreign nationals;
Despite denying any wrongdoing, Infosys agreed to pay the $34 million dollar
settlement, based in part on its cooperation with federal authorities. In addition to the monetary fine, Infosys also agreed to take corrective action to improve its record keeping operations related to the H-1B and B-1 visas and I-9 documentation.
U.S. Attorney, John M. Bales was quoted as saying: “[w]e will not tolerate actions that mislead the United Stated and circumvent lawful immigration practices, whether undertaken by a single individual or one of the largest corporations in the world.” Further, Special Agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas, David M. Marwell, stated: “The settlement against Infosys is the largest immigration fine on record. The investigation indicated that Infosys manipulated the visa process and circumvented the requirements, limitations, and governmental oversight of the visa programs. The investigation also showed that more than 80% of Infosys’s I-9 forms for 2010 and 2011 contained substantive violations. Ultimately these actions by Infosys cost American jobs and simultaneously financially hurt companies that sought to follow the laws of this nation. Companies that misuse the visa process can be expected to be scrutinized and held accountable”. Infosys issued a statement saying that despite the allegations, its policies adhere to all laws, rules, and regulations everywhere they operate and that they continue to take their compliance obligations “seriously.”
Individuals and corporations should be aware that the federal government takes immigration fraud seriously, and, “will not tolerate” any intentional misuse or abuse of the system. Moreover, this case clearly demonstrates that there is a cost associated with immigration fraud that it not purely financial in nature. The Infosys case also highlights the fact that immigration fraud related to the H-1B and B-1 visa process can cost American workers their jobs and their livelihoods when individuals or corporations choose to flaunt the laws of the land. As this case also demonstrates, penalties for violations of this country’s immigration laws can lead to potentially crippling fines for the offenders.
Do any of these situations sound familiar to you? Does your company issue memorandums like those detailed above to your employees? Or, maybe you know of another company engaged in similar behavior ? Can you afford to be silent? If you or your company have any questions about the H-1B program, its regulations and how it may relate to your business contact our office for a confidential consultation at (800) 893-9645.