Q: I am an H-1B visa holder and work for a computer software company. Lately, I have noticed that my employer has hired several new people to do the same job I do, but they are B-1 visa holders and are being paid much differently than I am. Is this legal?
A: You ask a great question that not only affects all employees but could also be a violation of many state and federal laws. If you work in a company that employs or does business with H-1B or B-1 visa holders, know your company’s responsibilities and your rights. Call our experienced Employment-Based Immigration Attorneys to help you determine if your employer is committing visa fraud and tax fraud.
There is a pending lawsuit in the media that will greatly affect your employment situation. Indian software giant Infosys Technologies (“Infosys”) is being sued by Jack Palmer, an employee who refused to help the company obtain B-1 visas for temporary workers. Palmer, who is a principal consultant for the company, has alleged that Infosys systematically commits visa fraud and tax fraud to increase profits, and has threatened and retaliated against him for his whistleblowing.
Palmer has alleged that he attended a meeting in Bangalore, India where Infosys management discussed ways to “creatively” get around the H-1B limitations. Palmer was asked to write a letter stating that an “employee was coming to the United States for a meeting rather than to work at a job.” When Palmer refused, he was threatened, harassed, and retaliated against.
A B-1 visa applies to temporary business visitors who come to the United States to conduct activities of a commercial or professional nature. For example, these could include consulting with a business associates, negotiating a contract, or attending business conferences. However, if you are here on a B-1 visa, you are not legally allowed to work at a full time job. B-1 visa rules also prohibit a U.S. employer from paying for a worker for obtaining a B-1 visa.
Infosys wanted to obtain B-1 visa workers because B-1 visas are much cheaper, faster and easier to obtain than an H-1B visa. Unlike an H-1B visa, the B-1 visa workers do not have wage requirements and are paid by the foreign entity. A B-1 visa holder also does not have their federal and state income taxes withheld. Given these differences, Palmer also alleged in his lawsuit that customers were overbilled for labor costs for the B-1 workers.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year, Infosys is a major user and reported that 9,300 of its technology professionals in the U.S. held H-1B visas. Additionally, Infosys applied for 3,800 new H-1B visas last year.
Palmer’s lawsuit exposes the visa and tax fraud occurring in many companies that employ H-1B and B-1 visa holders. When an employer uses a B-1 holder to perform an H-1B’s job, he is cheating the government of state and federal income taxes. Also, by using low paid B-1 visa holders to perform the higher paid H-1B jobs, employers are committing visa fraud and overcharging clients. Employees who blow the whistle and report tax and visa fraud may be able to collect significant monetary damages. If you have observed tax or visa fraud being committed against the government at your place employment, call our experienced Whistleblower Atttorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you decide if you have a whistleblower case.
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