Infosys – an Indian technology outsourcing giant – has agreed to pay $34 million to resolve claims that the company engaged in fraud with respect to H-1B and B-1 visas. Specifically, federal prosecutors accused the company of attempting to increase profits by illegally using the B-1 short-term business visitors’ visas to bring workers from India, instead of using the H-1B employment visa as required by immigration law. Infosys continues to vigorously deny the charges despite the settlement agreement, however.
Each year technology companies and other employers compete for the 65,000 H-1B employment visas made available. For the past three years, Infosys and two other Indian companies — Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services — were among the top five recipients of H-1B visas.
As pointed out in a New York Times article, the amount of the settlement was relatively small for Infosys, given that the company employs 160,000 workers worldwide and generates reported revenues of $7.9 billion, but the case highlights the increasing legal scrutiny and political skepticism in the United States regarding Indian companies that use temporary visas for guest workers employed at technology and software jobs in American companies.
The H-1B non-immigrant visa – commonly sought after by technology companies – is available to foreign workers who are employed by U.S. companies in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, the employee must meet the following requirements:
The applicant’s job position requires a bachelor’s or higher degree;
The applicant possesses at least a bachelor’s degree or its U.S. equivalent, or a combination of education and marketing experience equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree; and
The wage offered to the applicant is at least the prevailing wage, or the actual wage paid to other marketing professionals similarly employed, whichever is higher.
American technology companies have been urging lawmakers to increase the number of available H-1B visas. The current immigration bill that is stalled in the House of Representatives includes a measure to increase the H-1B limits, but it also includes new protections for American workers that could make it more difficult for foreign outsourcing companies to bring in temporary workers.