Foreign Company Found Guilty of Visa Fraud; Ordered to Pay Largest Immigration Violation Fine in History

money-in-hand-1037536-m.jpgInfosys Corporation, a large multi-national company operating primarily out of India, is a provider of IT consulting and tech-support services. Due to activities arising out of its immigration and employment practices, the U.S. government sued Infosys in U.S. federal court. Recently, Infosys agreed to a settlement with the U.S. government to the tune of a $34 million fine - making this settlement the largest fine for immigration violations in history. The company must also abide by stricter immigration compliance rules in the future.

The lawsuit originated in Plano, Texas, which was Infosys's home base for its U.S. operations. All of its immigration paperwork and visas were processed through the Plano, Texas office location. From the settlement documents, it seems that Infosys wanted to bring Indian employees to the U.S. to perform job duties for the company. Usually, when companies want to bring foreign employees to the U.S., the company sponsors the work for an H-1B visa. An H-1B visa allows the foreign employee to work in the U.S. for the sponsoring company as long as the worker abides by the terms and conditions of the employment. The H-1B sponsorship process can be difficult in certain situations because employers must demonstrate that the foreign worker's job position qualifies as a specialty occupation (meaning the occupation requires at least a Bachelor's degree). Additionally, H-1B sponsorship can also be expensive as employers are required to pay a base $325 filing fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and may also be required to pay additional fees of $500, $750 or $1,500 depending on the size of the company, and other filing fees. Moreover, attorney fees for filing H-1B petitions can be $1,000 to $5,000 or more.

Due to the costs of sponsoring several thousand H-1B visas, Infosys allegedly obtained B-1 visas for many of its workers. The B-1 visa does not authorize the visa holder to engage in regular, ongoing employment in the United States, and it is much cheaper to obtain than the H-1B visa.

In order to obtain B-1s in lieu of H-1Bs, the U.S. government alleged that Infosys misrepresented the true intents of the B-1 visa holders and gave fraudulent information to the U.S. consular officers who issued the visas. Specifically, the U.S. government states that Infosys produced letters for the U.S. consulates that contained false information; that Infosys advised the B-1 visa applicants to purposefully lie or mislead the consular officers during their B-1 interviews; and that Infosys altered its company contracts and documents to hide the fact that its B-1 visa employees were actually functioning as H-1B employees.

The effects of this settlement will be long-lasting, not only for the company, which has to pay millions of dollars in fines and will now be subject to the strictest scrutiny should it attempt to bring workers to the U.S. in the future, but also for the Infosys employees who participated in the B-1 in lieu of H-1B scheme. If it is found that these employees misrepresented facts to the U.S. consulate in order to get the B-1 visa, it will likely be very difficult for the employees to obtain any sort of visa to come to the U.S. in the future.

Making material misrepresentations during the immigration process is very, very serious and if discovered will have enduring detrimental consequences. Any foreign national seeking to work in the U.S. is advised to at least consult a skilled immigration attorney who can help them with their visa application. Contact our office today at 650-293-0270 to speak to a member of our legal team about your case.

Additional Blog Posts

March Madness for H-1B Preparation Has Begun, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, March 11, 2012
Foreign Visitors Help Stimulate The U.S. Economy, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 14, 2012

Employer Compliance / by Michelle Gee