In light of the recent $34 million settlement between Infosys Limited, an international business and computer consulting company, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for I-9 and other immigration violations, computer consulting firms should prepare for audits.
The Infosys settlement was reached this past November following a two-year investigation. Throughout the investigation, ICE made allegations of systemic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes by Infosys. Among the violations, Infosys had used B-1 visitor visa holders to perform skilled labor requiring H-1B visas. Additionally, substantive I-9 errors amounted to over 13,500 violations.
The amount of the settlement and extent of the Infosys violations makes it very likely that ICE will be auditing more computer consulting firms in an attempt to find similar errors. Although it is unlikely that many other computer consulting firms are involved in such egregious violations, firms should be prepared and not be surprised when ICE wants to take a closer look. Consulting firms typically depend on workers in H-1B, F-1, and L-1 visa categories, have high rates of turnover, and have a large number of employees, many of which are brought on through mergers and acquisitions. Because of the complexity of staffing such companies, ICE is likely to find at least some violations in any company.
To mitigate and avoid the I-9 errors that can cost millions, it is very important for companies like Infosys to engage immigration counsel before an audit by ICE, especially now that audits are likely. Among other efforts, our team of competent immigration attorneys can help by conducting preemptive audits, correcting as many existing errors as possible, and implementing training and compliance systems to avoid future problems.