Sending IT Outsourcing Firms a Message

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.

119752726Bloomberg.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 sitefirst 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.

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