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H-1B Employee Unpaid Wages Lawyer Update: Immigration violations lead to record fine

above-the-bar-logo-no12Our Award-Winning Employment Law Attorneys are often asked to comment on the H-1B employee rights. You or someone you know may be working for a company committing immigration fraud and not even know it! So, how do you know if this is the case? This blog post will review a settlement the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached with an Indian corporation and will highlight some of the more nefarious examples of immigration fraud committed by the corporation. To learn about your specific situation and how to assert your legal rights in the workplace, contact our H-1B employment attorneys for a confidential consultation at (800) 893-9645.

Federal Prosecutors in Texas revealed that Infosys Corporation, a foreign
corporation engaged in consulting, technology, and outsourcing, agreed to the largest settlement ever recorded in an immigration visa fraud case. Infosys has offices in 17 cities in the United States, including in Plano, Texas, the alleged offending location. Infosys’s Plano office is responsible for, among other things, handling Infosys’s immigration practices and procedures for its U.S. operations. Without admitting any wrongdoing, Infosys agreed to settle 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 foreign nationals (B-1 visa holders ) 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.

U.S. prosecutors 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:

ALLEGED H-1B VIOLATIONS
  • Failed to keep required I-9 records for its foreign nationals between 2010-2011;
  • 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;
  • 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.;
  • 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;
  • Large-scale failure of Infosys to re-verify or update the employment status of many of its foreign nationals;
  • 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 such as testing, and implantation, which sound like “work” , and to avoid discussing contract rates;
  • Used B-1 visa holders to perform skilled labor, which is required to be preformed by U.S. Citizens or legitimate visa holders (H-1B);
  • 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.
  • Infosys denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay the $34 million dollar settlement, due 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.

    United States Attorney John M. Bales was quoted as saying: “We 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” David M. Marwell, Special Agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas, 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 denied the allegations issuing a statement saying that its policies comply with all laws, rules, and regulations everywhere they operate and that they continue to take their compliance obligations “seriously.”

    While it is arguable that the immigration process can be manipulated, 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 costs 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 similar memorandums to you and your co-workers? Call our office now and speak with one of our experienced employment lawyers to learn your rights and options at (800) 893-9645.