Feeds

Infosys set for $35m fine over US visa naughtiness

Report says company undercut rivals by using cheap B-1 visas instead of pricier H1-B

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Indian IT services giant Infosys is bracing itself for a $35 million (£22m) fine from the US government for visa irregularities, in what will be the largest financial penalty ever handed out for an immigration infraction.

The fine, expected to be announced later today, comes after a Department of Homeland Security and State Department investigation into Infosys, according to Wall Street Journal.

The Indian IT giant is apparently being accused of routinely using B-1 visas for offshore workers to come to the US to service clients, rather than the harder-to-obtain H-1B visa.

B-1 visas, which cost $160 (£100) a pop, are technically intended for those attending conferences or other short business-related trips, while H-1Bs are valid for three years but can take months to process and cost up to $5,000 (£3,116) each.

As a result of its visa policy, it is alleged that Infosys managed to undercut its rivals in bidding for work on US soil.

The dispute can be seen in context of an on-going debate in which US interests complain that companies like Infosys are cheating the visa system by bringing cheap labour in from abroad on B-1 visas for long-term stays, rather than employing more expensive local workers.

Back in August, a lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Eastern Wisconsin by VMware specialist Brenda Koehler, alleged just this. It claimed that 90 per cent of Infosys US hires are not local and that the firm abused the B-1 visa system.

Allegations of discrimination against US staff were also made by ex-employee Jay Palmer, who brought a failed legal action against the firm. He claimed Infosys told staff to falsify letters of invitation to events to ease the B-1 application process.

On the other side, however, India’s outsourcers have complained that it is US immigration policy which is discriminatory.

There are currently only around 65,000 H-1B visas available each year which is often not enough and plans afoot could restrict that number even more.

NASSCOM president Som Mittal argued back in June that Indians working for the country’s outsourcing giants in the US have contributed over $15bn in taxes and social security payments over the past five years.

He said at the time that the proposed Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act places “restrictions on our ability to service our customers and prevents our ability to have a level-playing competition in the US”. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.