Business workshop / Immigration abuse crackdown

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A large India-based information technology consulting firm will have to pay the largest fine ever for immigration abuses. Infosys will pay a record $34 million for allegedly bringing Indian employees into the United States illegally by misclassifying their immigration status.

The U.S. Department of Justice accused Infosys of using B-1 visas to bring workers into the United States for jobs reserved for American workers or H-1B visa holders. B-1 visas, sometimes called “business visitor visas” allow people to enter the country for meetings, training or other temporary activities. Current immigration laws do not permit B-1 visa holders to do any work.

H-1B visas enable companies to hire foreign nationals and immigrants for jobs for which companies cannot find U.S. citizens to fill. Current law caps H-1B visas at 65,000 a year and the competition for these limited slots is always fierce.

Not only was Infosys accused of bringing the workers in under the wrong visa, but also of paying them below the prevailing wage in the United States, which is not allowed for H1-B visas.

During the investigation, authorities identified about 6,500 foreigners who came to the United States under the B1 visa program over a five-year period and worked for Infosys in violation of their visa. Infosys admitted no wrong-doing in agreeing to what is the largest fine ever for an immigration matter.

A spokesperson for the government has said that Infosys may not be the only company which is defrauding the government by misclassifying visas. Companies should be warned that the federal government is cracking down on companies that misfile or commit other types of visa fraud.

Joel Pfeffer, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, jp@muslaw.com


Business workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering tidbits on matters affecting business. To contribute, contact Business Editor Brian Hyslop at bhyslop@post-gazette.com.

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