Corporations, particularly those seeking IT workers, have long complained about the limited number of H1-B visas available. You may recall the government ran out of these visas in less than a week in April. But the U.S. government would like employers in general — and IT outsourcing providers in particular — to know that if they’re thinking about getting around the system by obtaining visitor visas instead, they’d better think again.
Bloomberg.com reports this morning that Bangalore, India-based Infosys has agreed to pay a $34 million penalty to the federal government over allegations that it was acquiring B-1 business visas in the place of H1-B visas, confirming that the Justice Department is serious about cracking down on employers attempting to get around the system. (The Wall Street Journal — subscription site — first reported yesterday that the settlement would be coming today.)
Infosys denies and disputes any claims of systemic visa fraud, misuse of visas for competitive advantage or immigration abuse. In a statement released this morning, it said …
Those claims are untrue and are assertions that remain unproven. The company’s use of B-1 visas was for legitimate business purposes and not in any way intended to circumvent the requirements of the H-1B program. Only .02% of the days that Infosys employees worked on U.S. projects in 2012 were performed by B-1 visa holders.”
No criminal charges were filed against the company. Further, its eligibility for federal contracts and access to U.S. visa programs would not be affected by the settlement.
At $34 million, the settlement has no doubt gotten the attention of anyone considering getting around the system in this way.
Late yesterday I asked immigration attorney Carl Shusterman to share his thoughts …
“I’ve been doing immigration law for close to 35 years and I have not seen a company that has tried to bring people here on visitor visas and put them to work in this way,” he told me. “I’m sure there have been a few individual cases that have not come to my attention,” but a fine of this [magnitude suggests the federal government believed this was being routinely done].”
Shusterman adds that he’s surprised leaders of a company this size would think they could get away with something like this.