On October 30, 2013, the Indian information technology and consulting firm Infosys Limited (“Infosys”) announced that it would pay $34 million to the U.S. government to settle claims that it engaged in systematic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged that Infosys routinely obtained B-1 visas for skilled, non-U.S. citizens to as work full-time employees at U.S. companies in violation of U.S. immigration law. The New York Times noted that the federal investigation into visa use by the Indian technology outsourcing giant “brought to light widespread abuses in the industry and prompted investigations into other foreign outsourcing firms.” Infosys denied it committed visa fraud.
What Is the Difference Between B-1 and H-1B Visas?
B-1 visas are short-term travel visas that allow business persons to travel to the U.S. for a short-term visit, such as to attend a conference, negotiate a contract, or participate in short-term training. B-1 visa holders may not perform skilled or unskilled labor while in the U.S.
H-1B visas are non-immigrant visas that allow employers to temporarily employ foreign nationals in positions that require specialized knowledge and high levels of education. The application process is highly regulated, and the number of H-1B visas granted is restricted to 65,000 visas annually. The employer must certify that the salary of the employee with the H-1B visa is within the prevailing salary for similarly qualified and educated employees working in the U.S.
How Did Infosys Commit Visa Fraud According to the Government?
The complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged that Infosys knowingly used B-1 visa holders to perform skilled labor in order to fill positions in the United States for employment that otherwise would have been performed by United States citizens or legitimate H-1B visa holders. Infosys allegedly did this for the purposes of increasing its profits, minimizing costs of securing visas, obtaining an unfair advantage over competitors, and avoiding tax liabilities.
The complaint specifically alleged that as a matter of practice, Infosys submitted “invitation letters” to U.S. Consular Officials that contained materially false representations regarding the true purpose of a B-1 visa holder’s travel in order to deceive U.S. Consular Officials and/or Customs and Border Protection Officers and secure entry of the visa holder into the United States. These “invitation letters” often stated that the purpose of travel was for “meetings” or “discussions” when the true purpose was to engage in activities not authorized under a B-1 visa.
What Compensation Did Employees Brought to the U.S. by Infosys Receive Under the Settlement?
No compensation was provided under the settlement to any Infosys employees.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office only brought claims on behalf of the government for statutory penalties and any actual damages that the government sustained. The settlement agreement called for payments of $5 million to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, $5 million to the U.S. Department of State, and $24 million to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
What Are Some Ways Companies Employing Non-U.S. Citizens in the U.S. May Violate the Law?
Lieff Cabraser has successfully represented non-U.S. citizens who worked in the United States on H-1B and L-1 visas in lawsuits alleging claims for breach of contract and violations of U.S. labor laws.
We are currently investigating claims against companies employing non-U.S. citizens in technology or information technology jobs for violations of the law including:
- Failing to pay the amount promised in the H-1B visa application for the employee;
- Failing to pay the amount promised in the contract with the employee;
- Having the employee work full time on a B-1 visa and paying the employee in the currency of the employee’s nation of origin and at a much lower salary than that paid to U.S. employees with similar qualifications and performing similar work;
- Making improper deductions of pay;
- Requiring employees to pay the company the entire amount of their federal and state tax refund checks;
- Charging assessments and exorbitant fees for visa applications, recruitment, and other charges never disclosed or in breach of the employment agreement; and
- Failing to provide overtime compensation, meal breaks, or rest breaks in accordance with state and federal law.