Most of our articles have been on immigration laws, issues, and compliance. We cannot underscore the importance of complying with these laws. This is especially important, given that last week on Halloween the United States federal government imposed an approximately $35 million fine on Infosys, one of the largest India-based technology, consulting, and outsourcing companies for American IT companies.
The fine was imposed because Infosys allegedly brought a number of its employees for long-term stays on B-1 (business visitor) visas. These visas are much easier to obtain than the more appropriate H-1B visas, but are strictly limited for intermittent, temporary stays for non-employment purposes. For example, under a B-1 visa, a person may attend conferences, negotiate deals, or undergo training. They may not, however, be compensated for these activities other than reimbursements for expenses. In this case, Infosys submitted false “invitation letters” stating that the B-1 visa holder would be attending “meetings” or engaging in “discussion” when in fact they were engaging in activities not authorized under the B-1 visa. Infosys also distributed a memo to its employees telling them not to use certain phrases or words at the consular interview in order to falsely secure their B-1 visas.
According to an I-9 audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Infosys also failed to maintain proper I-9 records for its foreign employees during 2010 and 2011, including failure to update and re-verify employment authorization status of a large number of the foreign employees. The ICE I-9 audit also revealed that more 80 percent of Infosys’s I-9 forms for 2010 and 2011 contained substantive violations. There is a $935 fine for each I-9 form error.
The investigation stemmed from a 2011 lawsuit filed by a former Infosys employee, who sued Infosys for harassment and breach of contract. The employee alleged that he was retaliated against when he brought up concerns with possible immigration law violations with management.
This case highlights how important complying with immigration laws can be and the consequences for noncompliance. Contact our office today if you have questions about immigration compliance issues.